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Escape the Classroom: Bringing Literature to Life

By Sarah Anderson

Creative subjects, like literature and drama, are dynamic and exciting topics that have been taught in classroom settings for centuries. Unfortunately, many of these subjects are now taught using passive lecture techniques, and energetic live theatre performances have been replaced with students watching online shows and plays. However, there are many ways for teachers to make literature exciting and increase learning engagement in their lessons. With this in mind, here are some simple ways to bring literature to life in the classroom.

Know and love your subject

As a creative arts teacher, you have the unique ability to pass on your skills and knowledge and inspire the next generation of artists and performers. Subject knowledge plays a vital role as high-quality teaching relies on teachers being experts in their subjects. According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, “to be effective in the classroom, accomplished teachers need to have a strong command of the subject matter they teach.” The best teachers have excellent subject knowledge and are truly passionate about the subject they teach. You can update and maintain your subject knowledge by continuing to read about your subject field. You can also develop your skills by attending regular courses in your subject area or completing additional qualifications.

Encourage regular theatre trips

People have been enjoying the magic of the theatre all throughout history. Theatre trips are a fantastic way for students to see literary texts brought to life and gain a true appreciation for the art. Attending a live performance allows students to witness firsthand the hard work and dedication of the actors, directors, set designers, and production staff. While modern technology means that watching online plays and performances is now a useful tool in literature studies, this should not replace the theatre experience all together. Students can gain a lot from viewing live performances and attending the theatre gives students a real insight into the industry. Arranging a theatre coach trip is the perfect way to inspire students and generate interest in literature and performing arts. Try to plan a theatre trip with your students at least once a term and encourage students to attend performances in their free time.

Create an interactive learning environment

Creating an energetic, interactive learning environment is an effective way to motivate students and keep them interested and engaged in the subject matter. You can easily create an interactive learning space by doing the following:

  • Adopt an interactive teaching style that encourages active involvement from your students during lessons. Make sure your lesson plan includes plenty of question-answer techniques, fun activities, and group work to increase engagement.
  • Seat students in groups to encourage interaction and collaboration throughout the teaching session.
  • Try to limit the amount of passive listening during classes and only adopt a lecture style of teaching when necessary.
  • Use ice-breaking activities to create a welcoming environment where students will feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions.
  • Make sure you get feedback from your students about what they did and didn’t enjoy and find interesting about your course. Send out an anonymous questionnaire to ensure that you get honest feedback on your lessons.

Let the students be the experts

Another great way to get students involved in your lessons is by allowing them to become the experts. Theatrefolk explain how you can encourage class participation by letting students take the lead in lessons – “Divide students into groups and give them the opportunity to teach something to the rest of the class. Have each group do the research, then present a brief lesson and a performance.” Researching a topic, preparing a lesson, then delivering this to the class, is a highly effective way for students to absorb information and gain knowledge on a specific subject area. It also gives students the opportunity to build their public speaking skills and share their opinions with the rest of the class.

Final thought

As a teacher, it is your responsibility to pass on your expert skills and knowledge and inspire the next generation of creative professionals. There are plenty of simple ways to create a positive learning environment and encourage interaction and enthusiasm from your students. This includes – creating an energetic interactive learning environment, planning regular theatre trips, and demonstrating a passion for your subject. Try these useful tips and bring your literature lessons to life!

The Actors Space wants to thank Sarah Anderson for sharing this blog with us. Thanks Sarah!


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