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Why We Need Arts Integration In The Classroom, And 4 Tips On How You Can Include It

Drama, to me, has always been a fun way of engaging the mind to be more creative and attuned with all aspects of life. When we act we become a different person; through their movement, their voice, their motives, we learn how to engage in empathy and understanding using character analysis. When we sing, we bring joy to others and take risks in our own comfort levels. When we dance, we embrace physical movement and exercise that is good for both our body and mind. And when we write, we build fictional realities with our minds. Drama, and the arts in general, are a vital part of learning, and more integration in the classroom is needed. Here are four ways you can add drama into your classroom:

1. Use Warm up Activities Used in Theater

Sometimes students need an adrenaline rush to stay motivated and active in their learning, especially after lunch. Similar to a morning set up routine of having students draw and write to gain focus, you can do a physical activity to get them to be more energized and aware. Shake it Ten, a simple dance, breathing exercises, or characterization exercises are all useful ways to liven up a classroom. And as for that morning focus time, have them reproduce what they have learned but in poetry form, or give them writing prompts so they can be inspired.

2. If You can Show it, You can Sing it!

Presentations are already a great way to bring drama based pedagogy into the classroom, but why not also allow for more poetry, singing, or visual presentations for assignments? By adding just a little bit more “flare” to an assignment by having students use a unique way to present the information they gather, they will connect more to the memorization and learning, as it will create secondary memory bonds to the information learned. Like a song stuck in your head, or an acronym you learned by heart, information can be held longer and be easier to recall when it is associated with a physical movement, a melody, or a catchy phrase.

3. Build Your Lesson Around a Mystery or a Journey

If you find it hard to create new material for your classroom, a simple shift in perspective is all that may be needed to change your already pre-planned lesson. For instance, you can “teach” the subject you were intending to present that day, or you can go on an explorative journey learning about it. The teacher can add a simple change to your plan, maybe instead of showing your students how to do something to reach the answer, you give them the answer and then they have to be detectives in figuring out the information. Cryptic information and countdown clocks can also be useful, as they give the illusion of an escape room; give them the page number as a clue and have them find the relevant information. Or, invite them on a journey of learning, where you help them become the information you are teaching: You are the narrator, and they must follow the steps and directions provided by you. The magic school bus is a great example of this; they use storytelling to amplify the learning, using common tropes of characters as a way to understand things more easily. If you could do the same things for your classroom and create a story based off your lesson plan, where they have to find those answers, it will help students feel more connected to what they are learning, and should be fun for you as well.

4. Reach out to an arts teacher in your school or district community

If you still feel completely lost for adding arts integrated exercises in your classroom, you can always ask for assistance. Most professionals in this industry would be happy to offer you advice on how to begin adding drama into the classroom, and based on what you are teaching they can offer advice on “how” you should teach it, through a dramatic lens. Whether it is math, science, language arts, or any other class, an arts educator would have a multitude of ideas to bring forward based on the desired outcomes you would like for the classroom.

Studies have shown that by adding drama and arts integration in your teaching, students will learn more readily, have better recall to information, and build confidence. So give these four suggestions a try for this September!

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