And Now Presenting…! How Dramatic Arts Integration Increases EL Students’ Use of Academic Language in the Classroom
Now create a skit!
In their paper, “The Influence of Classroom Drama on English Learners’ Academic Language Use During English Language Arts Lessons,” Alida Anderson and Sandra M. Loughlin investigate the effect of classroom drama (aka dramatic arts integration) on English Language learners’ use of academic language in class.
Anderson and Loughlin note that contextualized language-learning tasks, such as dramatic arts-based activities, have a powerful effect on students’ acquisition of academic language, as these types of activities support “connections between concepts and language expression” (265). However, decontextualized language instruction is often the norm in ELA classrooms, in which “language-learning tasks…are removed from immediate or accessible meaning beyond the language itself” (266). Yet there is a powerful case for contextualized learning environments, given that they “foster academic language proficiency through discovery and experiential approaches that integrate basic communication skills, new information, procedures, tasks, as well as vocabulary, structures, and functions in academic discourse” (267). In this learning environment, teachers would provide “action-based language opportunities” that enable “collaboration, discussion, and planning” (267).
Want Students to Memorize Content? Have Them Draw It.
It is typical for a teacher to ask students to write down information so that they can learn and memorize some given content. But authors Frits F.B. Pals et al. question whether writing information is the most effective way for students to memorize class material. In their paper, “Memorisation methods in science education: tactics to improve the teaching and learning practice,” Pals et al. examine the efficacy of writing versus student-created drawings for long-lasting student retention of content. In addition, the authors investigate whether “muttering” during writing or drawing makes a difference for memorization and retention of material, as previous studies have suggested (238). In particular, the study focuses on student memorization of science propositions.
Time Pressure, Positivity, and Creativity in Elementary School Classrooms
For decades, educational researchers have noted the benefits of creative thinking. Arguably, in today’s competitive and globalized society, creativity is more important than ever. In their paper, “Learning under time pressure: Learners who think positively achieve superior learning outcomes from creative teaching methods using picture books,” authors Chih-Yung Tsai et al. examine how teachers can boost student creativity in the classroom. In particular, they argue that by creating an environment in which students demonstrate positive emotions and by also exerting moderate time pressure, teachers can help develop students’ creative thinking (61).