KNOW THE STUDENTS AND HOW THEY LEARN

 

GENERAL DISCUSSION OF STANDARDS 1.1-1.6

In my current position as Drama teacher at St Hilda's Anglican School for Girls I am motivated to see students enjoy our lessons and excel in personal achievement. I believe that gaining confidence in a subject early on is the key to future success, and so I use a number of teaching and learning strategies to ensure no student is left behind. I feel that students learn best when they understand the purpose of learning tasks, and are able to see links to real life applications. I hold to Merrill's principles of activation, demonstration, application and integration in much of my teaching practice, building on existing knowledge and providing opportunity for ongoing informal formative assessment, where the students themselves can see how they improve.

 

Explicit direct instruction is a core facet of my pedagogy when introducing a new topic, which I like to blend with more inquiry based learning activities as my students develop their knowledge in the subject. I find that 'I do, we do, you do' is an effective way to introduce new skills and concepts before encouraging and guiding students to explore and expand on what they have learnt. To cater for learning styles, I provide instruction in both verbal and written forms before collaborative and practical activities, and open regular discussions and questioning opportunities to encourage higher order thinking.

1.1 USE TEACHING STRATEGIES BASED ON KNOWLEDGE OF STUDENTS' PHYSICAL, SOCIAL AND INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT AND CHARACTERISTICS TO IMPROVE STUDENT LEARNING.

I understand that a class is a collection of unique individuals with different abilities and diverse backgrounds. It is important for me to assess quickly the best approach for each student to help them achieve their potential and choose appropriate content and teaching strategies for the developmental stage of each year group. Evidence of my understanding of students' developmental characteristics can be seen through my assessment outlines and units of study provided for Standard 2, and the progression of  study through each year group.  

 

In performance tasks, in addition to a variety of instructional strategies (verbal and written), I monitor and quickly adjust how I can guide students to improve their practical work based on their unique characteristics. 

 

An anecdotal example of modifying instructional strategies: 

A Year 9 group of students working on a paired scripted performance piece in Term 3, 2019.  Nina is a highly intelligent student who learns terminology quickly and is quick to understand concepts. Nina responds best to intellectual discussion and prompts from theoretical approaches.  Annabelle has started to come out of her shell more recently and appreciates focused attention and guidance on her skill building and understanding of texts. Annabelle responds to teacher in role as Director, with clear discussion of the how and why an actor could or would do a particular thing. Evie finds it hard to focus when still. No DLP is recorded, but she struggles with written tasks and needs more scaffolding than her peers. She responds to observing different ideas and examples specific to her section of text and then feels more free to be creative. These approaches resulted in all three of these students presenting a final performance piece at a high standard, and chosen for inclusion in the Showcase performance to parents.  

 

1.2 STRUCTURE TEACHING PROGRAMS USING RESEARCH AND COLLEGIAL ADVICE ABOUT HOW STUDENTS LEARN.

The discussion and development of SHELLS (Evidence 1) has been enlightening this year, helping me reflect on what strategies I incorporate into my teaching to best cater to the students. As a highly practical subject, I am able to explore many of the different strategies discussed on our focus point of Social Capital this year. 

 

A large part of what we have discovered we can improve on in Drama this year has been a reaction to the professional learning required due to COVID 19. With two new online platforms introduced at the beginning of 2020 (SEQTA and TEAMS) I had to fast track my understanding of the capabilities of the ICT at hand, how I could best facilitate my students' continued learning, and maintain excellence in teaching. In the case of the Drama department, this also meant adjusting programs and tasks to cater for the isolation of students and limits of learning online in varied environments. As a response to this, SHELLS has been modified to include more blended learning strategies and I have continued to build on my skills in exploring the functions of these ICT tools to enhance student experiences. This is something I will continue to work on. 

 

1.5. DEVELOP TEACHING ACTIVITIES THAT INCORPORATE DIFFERENTIATED STRATEGIES TO MEET THE SPECIFIC LEARNING NEEDS OF STUDENTS ACROSS THE FULL RANGE OF ABILITIES. 

In Evidence 2 Year 7 Voice Unit 2020 and Evidence 3 Year 7 Vocal Task, I demonstrate how I incorporate clear scaffolded activities and performance opportunities into the students learning activities so that they feel comfortable and confident in developing their skills in the Drama classroom. The activities include a range of group, pair and individual tasks to allow all students to explore their strengths and warm ups can be adjusted for each class, depending on their unique makeup of individuals. I instill understanding of terminology through both practical tasks verbal discussion and written activities, resulting in the students to be able to capably describe what techniques they use and how they used them in performance. Continually making opportunity for reflection on their own and others performances helps the students build their skills in constructive analysis for continual improvement.

 

The choice of the 'Rap' storybook task for Year 7s was made to be age appropriate, fun and engaging, and could be performed as simply or complicated as the students desired. There were two reasons for this. The first being that the Year 7 classes were compulsory, with a wide range of abilities, interest and existing knowledge amongst the students, so I planned a task which could be safe for more timid students to explore, or be broad enough for those students who needed extension. The results in performance were great. Some students who had a huge fear of performance learnt how to record audio files and demonstrated their vocal skills through a 'Radio' presentation of their rap (Evidence 3), and others presented highly planned and well executed music video clips to show a mix of Drama skills beyond the task requirements (Evidence 4). The students loved this task and being able to choose their format of presentation, and this resulted in greater engagement in other tasks and in sign ups for cocurricular Drama activities.

 

1.6. DESIGN AND IMPLEMEMNT TEACHING ACTIVITIES THAT SUPPORT THE PARTICIPATION AND LEARNING OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITY AND ADDRESS RELEVANT POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE REQUIREMENTS.  

I have also provided adjustments for students with DLPs, mostly in regards to providing extra time or support for reading and written work. I have easily incorporated this into classes, providing one on one structured support to individuals as they complete their work, or ensuring these students get the time needed to finish tasks. 

An anecdotal example of additional modifications to teaching and materials for student learning needs: 

 

Year 9 student, 2020. Amber struggles with dysgraphia. I provide all printed materials to her in size 16 font. When I do board work, I ensure that I write neatly and use a magnetic strip to indicate the end of the line. She struggles to get written work completed to the same standard as her verbal responses, which are very strong, so I provided support for written tasks done in class by first eliciting a verbal response to the questions, and then allowing writing time. I did this as a whole class for some questions and then when the body of students moved to work by themselves, monitored and gave support to Amber as she required. This resulted in Amber feeling more comfortable in volunteering for verbal responses in class discussions (which demonstrated some higher order thinking) and confidently asking for help when she needed it. 

In drama I often encounter situations where students are inhibited by physical injuries or disabilities. I endeavor to adjust activities to be inclusive of all students. I regularly change room bookings to allow access to an appropriate classroom space and I adjust activities to build on a different skill or incorporate a new role in an activity to include the student with disability.

 

An anecdotal example of additional modifications to assessment to support participation: 

 

Year 9 student, 2019. Eliana is a student with a physical disability. She manages this mostly, with adjustments to seating arrangements in the classroom (I always provide her with a chair rather than sitting on the floor). She is able to do most physical activities in Drama, and is comfortable adjusting self-modifying. Eliana's disability flares up as we near a practical assessment where she is to perform with a partner. They have been working hard on this for a number of weeks and I had observed them developing some strong skills. To prevent Eliana from being excluded from the assessment, and her partner being left to perform alone, I modified their task: the able-bodied student performed the scene as rehearsed. Eliana could perform the scene sat in one place on stage and her assessment would be focussed on her vocal techniques and communication of themes in performance. This resulted in both students feeling less stressed about any penalties, and displaying some good skills in the assessment. Because I had observed their progress, I also made some adjustments to their summative mark to include their strengths observed in rehearsal, meaning it was a more accurate record of their achievement. 

EVIDENCE
1. SHELLS outline
 
 
2. Year 7 Voice Unit 2020
3. Year 7 Vocal Task 2020
4. Radio Rap student work 
5. Music Video student work
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