‘As You Like it’: Setting high expectations for Primary school students in performance literacy.’

Year: 2019

Author: Winchester, Joanna

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This workshop will engage delegates in research-informed drama activities developed at inaugural NSW Primary Schools Shakespeare Carnival in 2019. This project investigated the impact of a high-quality arts program to increase teachers’ capacity in assessing diverse students’ skills in drama literacy. Currently, the dominant ways of assessing literacies such as NAPLAN, give us only one snapshot at a point of time about a student’s literacy ability and do not reveal their creative skills in comprehending and interpreting high stakes literary texts within performance. As drama teacher educators, we need to develop ways to support primary and emerging secondary drama teachers, to assess literacy skills presented in diverse curriculum (Wyatt-Smith& Cumming, 2010) This project asks the question whether supporting students to engage with challenging material such as Shakespeare provides the opportunity for both teachers and students to realise their new strengths and weaknesses within performing arts literacy. Early indications are that high expectations of student ability and trust in the drama teacher’s methods may lead to incredible performance results, as seen in diverse communities in western Sydney. For example, students who are recent migrants to Australia with limited English two years ago, were reciting passages of Shakespearean language with meaning. The research findings will be presented within the style of a drama classroom, akin to a Masterclass. This will involve delegates experiencing firsthand the workshop activities the primary school students undertook when introducing them to Shakespeare, interweaved with the theory behind the choices of activities, and how this was reflected in the research outcomes.