At Head Held High, our speech and drama lessons follow a set structure which provides stability and continuity for students. This means they, and you, can know what to expect each week!
We start each lesson by exchanging some news – about what they’ve enjoyed that week or through another interesting conversation topic – and this give all students an opportunity to hold the space and engage with their classmates and teacher. Students might not have said much in class during their school day, and what might seem like an informal start to our lessons is actually key to building confidence by creating ownership for the student’s voice.
How we start the year
Our first two lessons of the 2020 school year focus on introducing students to each other and their Head Held High teacher We know how important it is to create positive relationships to put your child at ease, and we do this by playing fact-finding games to establish common links between us.
The games are active and interactive – for example “two truths and a fib”, and a web-weaving game with a big ball of wool! – and they encourage your child to think about expressing their identity. By the end of the sessions, students should hopefully have a good basis of understanding about everyone and be ready to collaborate in the year ahead.
Week Two looks at the teaching point ‘articulation’ – which means using the lips, teeth, tongue and jaw to give a crisp clear sound when speaking. Through an ‘emergency phone call’ game, students understand how helpful it is to be clear and not mumble!
As the phone-call receiver, their task is to help their classmate solve a problem. The other student improvises a garbled message and will be encouraged to slow down and repeat themselves or speak louder and articulate their words. The game is frustrating (and funny) by nature and gives students an understanding of how important it is to speak clearly, in order to keep their audience engaged! It also gives everyone a chance to practice their articulation in a fun, relaxed setting.
Week Three builds on articulation by looking at ‘projection’, which means using breath and posture to ensure words are loud enough to be heard from across the room. This is a very important skill for students to master, as some might be shy to speak up in a new environment.
There’s an important difference between shouting and projecting, and we work with all students to understand that they shouldn’t be straining their precious vocal chords. The games build much needed confidence in projection, allowing everyone to practice. One exercise we use to demonstrate this involves each student stepping out into the corridor, trying to hear what their classmate is saying. The classmate inside the room has to pick a simple sentence and project their voice loud enough so that the other student can hear every word. It’s a tricky skill to get to grips with, but by the end of the lesson all students will be ready to perform in a confident and clear voice.
Peer feedback and homework
A core part of our speech and drama classes is when we ask students to present a section of a poem or a script to their classmates. We encourage peer feedback, so students can learn from each other, and teachers also write comments in speech and drama books – which is why it’s so important for books to be brought to lessons! It’s a great opportunity for students to see what they can do to improve, and our comments let you know what their next section of homework will be.
Homework shouldn’t be daunting and is often a really fun way to engage your child’s memory by encouraging them to remember a small section of their poem. We are always amazed by how quick students take to the task and how much they enjoy presenting back to the class!
Key concepts to be learned in Term 1, 2020
Alongside articulation and projection, the remainder of Term 1 covers a range of topics including impromptu speaking and ‘modulation’ – which means adding colour and expression to the voice to create more interest. Each week a range of games are played alongside the teaching points, so we can guarantee our students are learning in a fun way.
You might notice how much more confidence your child has after a few classes – engaging more in their school or extra-curricular group activities, speaking up when asked a question – and these precious skills can enhance your child’s life in many ways.
We look forward to seeing this continue into the second term of 2020 and beyond!