Creative dramas in a social studies classroom: An action research
This eighteen week long action research study (spring 2012) focused on students from a local 8th grade social studies class to see the ways, in which creative drama informs their perceptions of the subject of history, their self-concepts as students; their willingness to engage with texts and their abilities / inclinations to think critically. The findings of the study indicate that active narratives, or creative drama strategies, promote student comprehension of and engagement with the content studied. Students perceived that creative drama activities made the content more meaningful and engaging due to the fact that these activities incorporated social supports. Active narratives also support their reading comprehension due to increased social supports, listening skills and visualization. In particular, readers theatre strengthened the literacy tool of visualization, which appeared to provide the most help for students struggling to comprehend nonfiction texts. In addition, it was observed that students who were merely able to list and define reading strategies prior to the consistent use of active narrative instructional strategies (storytelling, readers’ theater, poetry enactments) began to independently and consistently employ them after a semester of interacting with creative drama methods. Students perceived their improvement to be particularly associated with their own collaborative writing and enacting of curriculum-based readers theatre scripts.