Drama in the Classroom

Aloha! It's Nicole from Teaching With Style!

I shared some pretty big news on my Facebook page this week - I'm moving to 5th grade next year! Not only am I changing grade levels, but I am changing schools once again.  This time, I'm moving to our neighborhood school.  My commute will go from 21 miles to 1 mile! I can't wait and am hoping to stay there for a long, long time!

My new school uses some strategies that are new to me, so I've been brushing up.  They are REALLY big on using drama in the classroom to teach vocabulary and demonstrate comprehension kinesthetically and cooperatively.


One main strategy they use is tableau vivant, or just tableau, which means "living picture" in French.  In a tableau, students use their bodies to create a still picture to show the meaning of the concept they are working on.  They usually do not move or do not talk, they need to only rely on their gestures, body position, and facial features. 

You can learn more about teaching tableau here, here, and here.

Earlier this year I went to a drama workshop in Honolulu and learned about tableau.  As an intro to drama integration, we learned a technique called snapshots.  In a snapshot, students work individually to convey a message.  This is low-risk because all students are doing it at once and only the teacher should be looking around the room and seeing what the students are doing.  The easiest way to get started with this strategy is to use it when teaching Language Arts vocabulary.


To get started, you need to teach students "actor's neutral".  They should be standing straight with their arms at their sides, facing forward, not talking.  They are also facing away from the teacher or the front of the room.

Next, teach the students that when you say ON, students will turn around and assume their pose to show the vocabulary word.  When you say OFF, they will go back to Actor's Neutral and turn around.  Students need to control their bodies, not flop on the floor or fall over.  They need to also be quiet.  There is no talking in Snapshot. 

Practice ON/OFF with emotions (such as happy, sad, embarrassed, confused), verbs (such as beg or demand) and adjectives (such as bumpy and slippery). 

Call on volunteers to demonstrate their Snapshots to the class and start a discussion about what they did with their bodies to show us the vocabulary word.

Do you integrate arts strategies already? Could you see yourself using Snapshot? Let me know!

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3 comments

  1. That is such a cool idea. I might have to find a way to incorporate this into my day! Thanks for sharing!
    Ryan
    The Disneyfied Teacher

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