Theatre Experiences

General Learning R. de la Cruz, studying how thirty-five learning disabled students, twenty-one in an experimental group and fourteen in a control group, perform in several social areas-courtesy to others, self-control, focus, and social compliance. Students engaged in twelve weekly, 35-40-minute creative drama activities, with three of the twelve focusing on each of the four areas. De la Cruz found, first of all, that the experimental group gained significantly more in all four of those performance clusters than those in the control group. Furthermore, two months later, at a follow-up, the experimental group maintained their post-measure levels of social and linguistic skill. Cruz, R.E. de la (1995). The effects of creative drama on the social and oral language skills of children with learning disabilities. Doctoral dissertation, Illinois State University.
General Learning Studying thirty-six kindergarten students raandomly assigned to either an adult-structured group training in imaginative play processes, a free-play activity group in the non-directive presence of the experimenter, or a control group, R.S. Fink tested the development of conservation and two kinds of perspectivism, as groups of four children met twice weekly for four weeks. Fink found that, although all three groups developed over time, the first group, the structured group engaging most heartily in imaginative play, consistently improved more than the other two. Fink, R.S. (1976). Role of imaginative play in cognitive development. Psychological Reports, 895-906.
General Learning Larry Kassab sought to establish the relationship between students who participated in a six-week poetry and drama workshop and their abilities to communicate orally. His study involved high school sophomores from a rural school in Pennsylvania. After taking part in the workshop, Kassab found that the students could better and more comfortably express themselves and had increased levels of self esteem and self confidence, all key factors for success in school and later in life. Also important, students in the workshop relied on their own writings, instead of those of other playwrights, leading to increased experience in writing for dramatic purposes. Kassab, L. (1984, August). A poetic/dramatic approach to facilitate oral communication. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Department of Speech Communication, Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania.
General Learning Tucson’s Arts Integration Program utilizes a mentor teacher model in which teachers who have been successful in integrating arts into the curriculum mentor other teachers to do the same. Key components include emphasis on one arts area, onsite mentor observations, planning meetings, and recording and reviewing arts lessons. The program concentrated on theatre instruction with activities that featured mime, character and voice building, and improvisation. Students reported positive effects, and teachers learned and implemented more effective classroom practices. Betts, J. D. (1994). Arts Integration Program II: A final report. Tucson, AZ: Arizona Arts Education Research Institute, Tucson/Pima Arts Council.
General Learning Catterall discusses general designs of dramatic inquiry including the body of research yet to be undertaken and also attempts to define terms involving drama and theatre. In the essay’s conclusion he offer’s Heathcote’s catalog of “‘guarantees’ Catterall, J. S. (2002). “Research on Drama and Theater in Education” in Deasy, R., ed. Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership. Retrieved on February 8, 2007 from
General Learning Project Zero’s REAP (Reviewing Education and the Arts Project) partook in the meta-analysis of over 11,000 articles focusing on the arts and it’s contribution to other academic learning. According to the reports found, “a causal link was found between classroom drama (enacting texts) and a variety of verbal areas. In all cases, students who enacted texts were compared to students who read the same texts but did not enact them. Drama not only helped children’s verbal skills with respect to the texts enacted; it also helped children’s verbal skills when applied to new, non-enacted texts. Thus, drama helps to build verbal skills that transfer to new materials.” Hetland, L. & Winner E. (Eds.).(2000). The arts and academic achievement: what the evidence shows. The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 3/4.
General Learning Preschool classes were divided into two instructional groups Russ, S. & Sacha, T. (2006). Effects of pretend imagery on learning dance in preschool children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33, 5, 341-345.
General Learning Lazarus, J. (2004). Signs of change: new directions in secondary theatre education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinmenn.
General Learning This Theatre Communications Group, Inc. article tackles the following questions, “How, with smaller grants and changing priorities, does an arts education program serve the needs of the school and remain true to its artistic goals? What is the most effective means of reaching students to create a cultural awareness of and desire for the arts? How do we advocate for the inclusion of the theatre arts in an educational climate that has become test-bound and results oriented?…Developed in collaboration with artists and teachers, the framework outlines a scripted approach to nurturing teachers who incorporate theatrical concepts into the learning process, the ultimate goal being to create teachers who actively engage in the artistry of teaching.” Renner, D. (2002). Building Bridges Centerpiece focus on: education. TCG Centerpiece publication retrieved March 11, 2007 from
Reading and Language Arts Three groups, each consisting of seventeen fifth-grade students who were in remedial reading courses, were placed in a structured remedial reading course for six weeks. Group One, in addition, used creative drama to support reading comprehension; Group Two was taught traditional, non-remedial methods to support reading comprehension; and Group Three only made use of the structured course. S. DuPont found that Group One scored significantly higher than Groups Two and Three on both a weekly criterion-referenced test (CRT) and the Metropolitan Achievement Test (MAT6). DuPont, Sherry (1992). The effectiveness of creative drama as an instructional strategy to enhance the reading comprehension skills of fifth-grade remedial readers. Reading Research and Instruction, 41-52
Reading and Language Arts Literacy – defined as the use of reading skills, the decoding of written materials, drawing inferences, and the translation of narrative and sequence into dramatic text – is the focus of this study on five-year-olds. J.R. Goodman found that reading comprehension is enhanced when a child acts out dramatically a story he or she has read. More interesting, though, is Goodman’s discovery that those same children better comprehend overall – in other words, even when they are not dramatically enacting the passages they are reading, they still manage to comprehend said passage. Goodman, J.R. (1990). A naturalistic study of the relationship between literacy development and dramatic play in five-year-old children.Unpublished dissertation, Vanderbilt University.
Reading and Language Arts Shakespeare and Company aims to produce quality productions of Shakespeare’s plays and to teach Shakespeare at all academic levels. The program sets out to make its participants confident, competent readers. Participants in the program not only noted changes in their reading levels, but the students also claimed significant results in the fields of mathematics and science. Because Shakespeare and Company challenges students to read and dissect every word of Shakespeare’s texts, students learn how to read on many levels, helping them also to analyze their physics books. Seidel, S. (1998). Stand and unfold yourself: a monograph on the Shakespeare and Company research study. Harvard Project Zero, Cambridge, MA.
Reading and Language Arts Researchers Blaine H. Moore and Helen Caldwell studied 63 second and third graders to find whether participation in theatre and drama activities improved students’ writing skills. Divided into three groups, one group participated in drama activities, another in drawing activities, and the final group as a control. The drama group focused on the students’ ideas for plays; here, students engaged in pantomime, games, movement, and improvisation to strengthen their fictional writing skills. Students took part in these activities over a period of fifteen weeks. After that time, investigators found that the students who participated in the drawing and drama groups improved their narrative writing abilities. Moore, B.H. and Caldwell, H. (1993, November/December). Drama and drawing for narrative writing in primary grades. Journal of Educational Research, 100-110.
Reading and Language Arts Anita Page investigated the extent to which story dramatization affected students’ reading comprehension. She used two groups: one in which the children listened to an adult read the story and another in which the children heard the story on tape and acted out the story. Page found that dramatizations tended to engage the students more so than did a traditional reading. Further, through dramatizations, students could better identify key elements of the story, including main idea and character development. These two things led to better reading comprehension. The research also found that younger children showed better results than older children; perhaps, because younger children had less sophisticated reading skills. Page, A. (1983). Children’s story comprehension as a result of storytelling and story dramatization: a study of the child as spectator and participant. Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts.
Reading and Language Arts Michaela Parks and Dale Rose investigated the connection between a reading comprehension/drama program and reading and standardized test scores. In the Whirlwind classrooms, teachers cooperated with an opera singer and an actor who worked with students over ten weeks, focusing on reading and dramatic-presentation exercises. This participation resulted in significant increases in Iowa Test of Basic Skills scores; the scores most improved when students had to “identify factual information” from readings. Also, participants were better able to express factual material nonverbally. Parks, M. and Rose, D. (1997). The impact of Whirlwind’s Reading Comparison through Drama Program on 4th grade students’ reading skills and standardized test scores. Unpublished evaluation, 3D Group.
Reading and Language Arts Researchers tested the effects of three types of stories on students’ development of reading comprehension. They examined thematic-fantasy play, teacher-led discussion, and drawing. After participating in these activities, the students in kindergarten and first grade who took part in the thematic-fantasy play produced significantly higher story comprehension scores than did the students in the discussion and drawing groups. The students in the thematic-fantasy play group also scored higher in story recall, recalling sequences of events, and answering judgmental questions. Pellegrini, A.D. and Galda, L. (1982, Fall). The effects of thematic-fantasy play training on the development of children’s story comprehension. American Educational Research Journal, 443-452.
Reading and Language Arts In her study, Ann Podlozny investigated the effects of classroom drama on students’ development of verbal abilities. This review of instructional practices analyzed eighty previous studies and tested whether or not three characteristics of dramatic instruction—enactment, plot, and the leader’s level of involvement—improved verbal knowledge. After performing statistical tests, she found that dramatic study improved students’ abilities to understand stories, especially for students who came from lower socioeconomic groups or who were delayed in their development of reading skills. She also discovered relationships between dramatic instruction and reading achievement, reading readiness, oral language development, and writing achievement. Podlozny, A. (2000, Fall). Strengthening verbal skills through the use of classroom drama: a clear link. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 239-276.
Reading and Language Arts Betty Jane Wagner studied the effects of theatre and dramatic play in the classroom on the persuasive writing abilities of both fourth and eighth graders. She divided the students into three groups—some received facilitator-guided-role-playing instruction, others received instruction in persuasive writing, while the third group did not receive either type of instruction. Following the given activities, students from each group wrote a persuasive letter to their principal. Wagner found that when students worked in pairs in role-playing activities, their persuasive writing capabilities were further developed than students who received a lecture with examples. The role play was more effective with fourth graders. Eighth graders who participated in the role play showed improvement over those eighth graders who did not receive instruction; however, they did not show a significant improvement over those who received a lecture. Wagner, B.J. (1986, October). The effects of role playing on written persuasion: an age and channel comparison of fourth and eighth graders. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Reading and Language Arts Researchers from the Education Department of Tasmania wanted to determine the relationship between drama in the classroom and the language development of fifth- and sixth-grade students. Teachers from nine schools participated in a two-day workshop and had constant access to speech and drama coaches. After teachers engaged their students in dramatic activities, they gathered examples of language and verbal exchanges from their students. The researchers investigated these samples and found that the language in those classrooms differed from those in other classrooms. Communication in other classes tended to be totally informational, while that of the dramatrained teachers’ classes was half informational and half expressive. In addition, drama encouraged more student-to-student interaction and exchanges. Students also became more self-reflective. Schaffner, M., Little, G., and Felton, H. (1984, August). Nadie Papers No. 1, drama, language and learning. Reports of the drama and language research project, speech and drama center. National Association for Drama in Education, Education Department of Tasmania.
Reading and Language Arts This study follows a remedial class of seventeen third- and fourth-grade students. Defined as “at-risk”, these students participated in typical round-robin reading lessons in which one student reads, followed by another student with minimal discussion. During the school year, the teacher introduced the students to a theatre instructor who worked with them weekly. Students read multicultural books, participated in dramatic expression activities based on the books, and discussed the books. This exposure to different reading material and a different way of reading helped the students to argue points and to interpret texts. Wolf, S.A. (1998). The flight of reading: shifts in instruction, orchestration, and attitudes through classroom theatre. Reading Research Quarterly, 382-415.
Reading and Language Arts Classroom Theatre, a program that involved remedial readers in the third and fourth grades, consisted of ten sessions of drama activity with instruction from a theatre director. The program allowed students who disliked reading to perform dramatic interpretations of scenes from texts, using various theatrical techniques such as script meetings, rehearsals, and performances. The researcher collected qualitative data, including videotaped performances for review, student records and journals, and student interviews about character and scene exploration. Participants began to appreciate the written text and chose their own scenes to interpret from self-selected books. Students also began to understand the need for rules in dramatic play. Through their interpretation, they analyzed situations from characters’ perspectives and made connections between themselves and the characters. Wolf, S. (1994). Learning to act/acting to learn: Children as actors, critics, and characters in classroom theatre. Research in teaching English, 28, 7-44.
Reading and Language Arts Researchers investigated the effects on literacy of the Arts Alternative Program for at-risk urban elementary school students. The Arts Alternative Program provided participants with the opportunity to explore role play and story writing. The study used inner-city schools in Newark, New Jersey and documented the experiences of fourth through sixth graders who were largely from minority populations. These students worked closely with a teacher in small groups on drama lessons from October to May. When compared to a control group, the participants had significantly higher scores in vocabulary and reading comprehension on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills. Students also reported attitudinal gains in self expression, trust, self acceptance, awareness/acceptance of others, and self empowerment. Gourgey, A. F., Bosseau, J., & Delgado, J. (1985). The impact of an improvisational dramatics program on student attitudes and achievement. Children’s theatre review, 34, 9-14.
Reading and Language Arts Pellegrini investigated, “relationships between kindergarteners’ symbolic functioning in free play, selected demographic variables (sex, age, and socioeconomic status), and the children’s ability to generate isolated written words. Over a 4-week period sixty-five kindergarteners in their classes were tested and observed. In conclusion, teachers can facilitate achievement in reading and writing by providing dramatic play opportunities for kindergarteners.” Pellegrini, A. D. (1980). Symbolic functioning and children’s early writing: relations between kindergarteners
Reading and Language Arts This study examined the success of elements by the thematic-fantasy play training paradigm in facilitating story recall of 192 disadvantaged kindergartners and first graders. Results include: adult tuition did not facilitate story recall; and fantasy enactment affected immediate but did not maintained story recall. Pellegrini, A. D. (1984). Identifying causal elements in the thematic-fantasy play paradigm. American Educational Research Journal, 21, 2, 691-701.
Reading and Language Arts Researcher Cramer engaged fouth and eight-grade students to learn more about the relationship between literacy and oral dramatic expression. The author states, “Results reflected an across the board positive correlation between students’ perceptions of reading as a significant and meaningful learning experience and students’ use of dramatic interpretation through the indices of the voice. For oral dramatic readers, the purpose for reading was the process, not just the product. Dramatic readers see reading as something composed that must be performed. They are able to perform the “story” much like a musical score, backing for patterns, beats, and rhythms. Literacy then is a performing art, by definition a form of aesthetic response that is autobiographical in essence, constructivist in nature, and a highly personal ‘”phenomenon.’” Cramer, N. V. Literacy as a performing art: a phenomenological study of oral dramatic reading. (Doctoral dissertation, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College). Dissertation Abstracts International, 0127103-211254.
Reading and Language Arts According to Kelner and Flynn, “Drama and reading comprehension share a multitude of authentic connections, including meaning making and interpretation. Each subject complements the other, leading, ideally, to increased abilities in both. A Dramatic Approach to Reading Comprehension explains the what, how, and why of effective classroom drama as well as how drama increases students’ reading comprehension skills.” Blank Kelner, L. & Flynn, R. M. (2006). A dramatic approach to reading comprehension: strategies and activities for classroom teachers. Portsmouth, NH : Heinemann
Reading and Language Arts “Heinig proves what a valuable medium improvisation drama is for the student of literature. Using nineteen traditional tales as a springboard for exploration Heinig, Ruth. (1992). Improvisation with favorite tales: integrating drama into the reading/writing classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Reading and Language Arts This article proposes, according to Mages, “a cognitive theory of how drama affects two aspects of language development: narrative comprehension and narrative production. It is a theoretical model that explicitly posits the role of the imagination in drama’s potential to enhance the development of both narrative comprehension and narrative production.” Mages, W. (2006). Drama and imagination: a cognitive theory of drama’s effect on narrative comprehension and narrative production. Research in Drama Education, 11, 3, 329-340.
Reading and Language Arts Pellegrini and Galda examine recent research on the effect of children’s symbolic play on their literacy development. The article states, “longitudinal naturalistic and experimental research on the role of symbolic play in literacy development is reviewed. While all studies reviewed were limited by possible observer bias, consistent results were found whereby adults’ roles in children’s symbolic play and oral language production were limited. Further, children’s use of language to talk about language while interacting with peers was a key factor in early reading. Lastly, propositions for pedagogy and future research are discussed.” Galda, L. & Pellegrini, A. D. (1993). Ten years after: a reexamination of symbolic play and literacy research. Reading Research Quarterly, 28, 2, 162-175.
Reading and Language Arts This research study looked at the involvement of play, metaplay, and productive language competence in the thematic-fantasy play context to kindergartners’ comprehension of stories Silvern, S. B. & Williamson, P. A. (1992). You can’t be grandma; you’re a boy: events within the thematic fantasy play context that contribute to story comprehension. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 7, 75-93.
Reading and Language Arts According to the abstract, “Many current criticisms of literature-based curriculum revolve around the use of balance in literacy instruction. This paper challenges these criticisms by sharing a personal history and proposing a curricular framework that provides an alternative view of balance, particularly in relation to the role of guided reading and literature discussion groups in children’s lives as readers.” Short, K. (1999).The search for “balance” in a literature-rich curriculum. Theory into Practice, 38, 3, 130-37.
Reading and Language Arts Metzger, “Considers that if there is one writer who may appear in successive years on the AP (Advanced Placement) literature exam, it is Shakespeare Metzger, M. J. (2002). “The villainy you teach me…”: Shakespeare and AP English Literature. English Journal, 92, 1, 22-28.

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