Posts Tagged ‘Helping Children’
Response to: Instructional Effectiveness of an Integrated Theatre Arts Program for Children Using Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Their Nondisabled Peers John McCarthy and Janice Light
Instructional Effectiveness of an Integrated Theatre Arts Program for Children
Using Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Their Nondisabled Peers
John McCarthy and Janice Light
Children using Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) systems face seemingly insurmountable challenges on a daily basis. This article provides a fine look at how children using AAC can be benefit from engaging in creative drama activities with their nondisabled peers. These activities can lead them to more success with engagement levels in their school and home lives as well as increasing their opportunities for and skills as communicators.
I found this article to be quite a fascinating look into the lives of this population young people, as well as another example of the positive effect drama activities can have in helping children with yet another manifestation of the possible communication issues. The subject of engagement was discussed quite liberally in the piece, because the possibilities for students operating at this high level of communication impairment to disengage from the learning environment are common and extremely problematic. Teaching through drama requires a high level of individual and group engagement, and so it is theorized by the authors that drama is a very positive way to secure optimum engagement with the impaired children in the study.
The authors also point out that in addition to providing enhanced experiences for the children using the AAC, there were benefits to the unimpaired children in the study as well, stating that “the high levels of engagement, participation, and success across children lend support to the use of theatre activities in integrated settings – an approach that may provide a nonthreatening way to help integrate children and their nondisabled peers.”
Link – http://libcore.csd.sc.edu:50080/ebsco-web/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=b77f6ecd-f352-417c-a66c-9311243b17a9%40sessionmgr13&vid=2&hid=111
This article explores the uses of drama toward helping children with social challenges learn to think in terms of narrative conversations. The theory is that teaching them to use this skill will enhance their abilities for developing holistic, creative thinking and conversation rather than the analytical sequential mode of thinking that many of these children often use for communication and interpreting the world around them.
Much of the research and anecdotes center on work with children on the autism spectrum.
It is noted that ability to engage in narrative conversation requires”sensitivity to patterning, sequencing and the “framing” of experience(Bruner and Feldman, 1993) and that babies in all cultures are taught this through give and take games such as peek-a-boo, etc. Children with autism often do not master this skill in infancy and it appears that this is perhaps one of the causes for their failing to understand the sequence of social interaction. The dilemma for researchers is to understand whether this is a cause or a consequence of autism, but the fact remains that lack of participation in this type of experience at an early age leads to an interference in the way very little ones with these deficits develop normal play and the subsequent narrative thinking and language.
The article provides additional information on the neurological differences found in children on the spectrum, as well as how these differences can effect the development of social language and communication. I feel strongly that this article speaks to the concerns of teachers of children who struggle in social situations whether they are considered “on the spectrum” or “typically abled,” and the information provided can have a very positive effect on the understanding and practice of all teachers and towards all students.
This subject has always interested me. I have had experiences looking on when theatre professionals counseled students to understand their “type” and have thought that in the case of auditioning and in looking toward a career in the theatre, that this made great sense. I have had my own experiences as the mother of children who have dissolved to the floor in puddles of despair after they were not cast as a character they were in no way suited for but dearly wished to play. As the director of a youth theatre I have received angry emails from the parents of young actors who had in their own living rooms dissolved into these sad same little puddles when I did not cast them as the characters they yearned to be but were the wrong physical type, or not old enough, or not (oh I hate this) strong enough (at least at that point) to play.
So in some ways I do think it is important for kids to know their “type.”
However! From an educational standpoint I do agree that helping young actors stretch into new places can benefit them in so many ways. That: “theater is a powerful instrument in conquering adolescent self – consciousness and insecurities.” I also agree that playing new characters can help a teenager with those ever present teen issues: discomfort in their body, discomfort relating to characters who differ greatly from who they are, and can offer a world of useful opportunities to enhance social and collaborative work skills.
I feel improv activities such as the Viola Spolin work we have been studying here at USC will go a long way toward helping children access these creative goals in the classroom.
Do you think these techniques will translate into “real learning”? Why or why not? Please be specific with examples from the video.
I think that not only will these techniques translate into “real learning” but that they will go far towards the goal of helping children learn to relax and enjoy math as well. The excellent teacher in the video said it best I think when she told us that when they do Math without the drama component, the children seem to race through their work and are only happy when they announce, “I’m finished!” but that when they are working in a Math drama activity they want the lesson to go on and on.
I also thought it interesting the way the Drama Specialist pointed out that instead of just doing math work, the children were – in the way that all drama activities are connected to the human experience – helping a fellow person out with a problem. This will also, I believe, go far towards reinforcing what they were leaning. The enjoyment of the experience as well as their pride in helping solve the mess that chef Jeff was in will help anchor the skills in their minds.
The teacher in role was doing such a great job. And it was obvious she had everything planned down to the most minute detail. And the assessment at the end of the lesson was again quite impressive and had obviously been planned for.
I was really interested to hear more about the DforLC program. I was surprised, though I donlt know why I should have been, that the schools had to approach the program and to come up with the projects they wished to use the drama lessons for on their own. And that the program was so successful for teachers who had had no previous drama training.