“It’s easy to imagine ... because you’ve been up there!”—A case study of drama as a pedagogy for writing in one New Zealand classroom
Recently in New Zealand education there has been an increasing focus on finding more effective ways of improving the literacy achievement of students, particularly diverse learners. While internationally there have been some important studies into the effects of using drama within the literacy classroom, there has been little research that specifically relates to the New Zealand classroom. Do the approaches and findings from international studies translate to this very different context?
This paper reports on a case study that aimed to explore the impact of using drama as a pedagogy for teaching writing within a Year 5 classroom of diverse learners. The 16 students involved participated in drama and writing sessions taught across eight weeks, with data gathered through a variety of methodologies. The findings suggest that by working within an imagined situation with the teacher, students were provided with a context where there was an authentic need for them to write, to address a particular purpose and audience. Because of this authentic need, students appeared to have improved motivation, which in turn gave rise to a strong personal voice in their writing. The drama also provided opportunities for oral language which further impacted positively on students’ writing.
This study may offer some insight for those wanting to consider ways to motivate students who are disengaged from writing, through building strong, purposeful relationships with students where the balance of power is shifted.
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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015