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Classroom Drama

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


Drama is a way for students to access the curriculum using several of Gardner’s multiple intelligences. Recent brain research and theories of learning have shown that dramatization is an effective teaching strategy. 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 the learner to come to new understandings. 

Classroom Drama Ideas

Creating Skits

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 exlore a phase of the characters’ lives that was not explicitly in the story. 

Oral Interpretations 

Have 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. Give the story a beginning, middle and end. Include details. Topics should be something that is relevant to the student.

Role Play

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

Select a scene in a text or an issue portrayed in that scene. Small groups of students can create a role play situation around the conflict or tension. For example, the characters themselves having to cope with a problem or make 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 as a pair, select a scene or scenes in a story or novel or an entire story and adapt to 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 will work together to act as the prosecution or defense for the 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

Hotseating 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. Find out more about Hot Seating here

Additional Resources

Wilhelm, Jeffrey D. “Drama is Imagining to Learn : Inquiry, Ethics, and Integration through Drama”

The website Drama Resource has a number of excellent drama activities for ELA teachers.