Through drama, students became a part of the learning process rather than mere observers or inactive receptacles of the rich experience of learning; in this way, their learning was deeper, more sustained, and infinitely more complex.

Jeffrey Wilhelm

In English Language Arts, when we talk about using drama to enhance learning, we are not talking about putting on a play for an audience. Rather, we are talking about improvisational role play or simulations that are unscripted and allow learners to come to new understandings about the texts they read, view and produce.

Download the infographic ELA Drama Activities here.



Small groups of students can create skits involving characters from a story. The skits might focus on retelling the story or a scene from a story. They might also explore a phase of the characters’ lives that was not explicitly in the story.

Oral Interpretations

Students plan an oral interpretation of a poem or a story. Students determine the meaning they want to convey and decide on the kind of performance that will best express that meaning.


Students chose a partner and tell them a story. The story should have a beginning, middle and end, and include details. Topics should be relevant to the students.

Role Play

Role play can help students develop a deeper understanding of different viewpoints. Students of all ages can explore familiar themes and characters through improvisation and role play.

After selecting a scene in a text or an issue presented in a text, small groups of students can create a role play situation around the conflict or tension. For example, they might portray the characters coping with a problem or making a decision related to an event in the text or some hypothetical event.

At the completion of the role play, students step outside of their roles and discuss:

  • how they felt in the role

  • their perceptions of others’ roles

  • what they learned from the role play that helped further their understanding of the text

Drama Adaptation

Working in pairs, students select a scene or scenes in a story or novel and adapt into a play with only dialogue and stage directions. The dialogue alone must portray characters’ traits, attitudes, agendas, and goals.

Literature-based Mock Trial

Groups of students work together to act as the prosecution or defense for selected characters, while also acting as the jury for other groups. This activity encourages students to work together to create their own meanings. See the entire activity at ReadWriteThink.

Hot Seating

Hot seating puts students “on the spot” in the role of a character, so they can be questioned by the group about background, behaviour and motivation. This technique helps students improve their ability to analyze characters and draw inferences. It is also useful for developing questioning skills.


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