On a sunny, spring-like morning, 22 teachers from across the city gathered at the Museum of London for a day of INSET training in Drama, Movement and Dance. Led by industry experts, Katherine Marwick and Andrea Puerta, the teachers gamely jumped head first into a series of activities that explored the use of objects as a source of inspiration for movement, character work and choreography.
Working in small groups, the teachers were asked to observe and then recreate the ‘qualities’ of melting sugar, paper, foam and even a rubber band. With a little trepidation and much laughter, they were able to create complex and original movement sequences in just fifteen minutes. Aside from the rich material created, many teachers commented on how this exercise could be a brilliant starting point for cross-curriculum science work or the early years curriculum.
The second part of the morning explored group poetry reading with each teacher learning a line from Lewis Carroll’s The Jabberwocky. Each teacher was then encouraged to experiment with their text by trying out different pitches, intonations, rhythms and sound levels. Feedback from the teachers was that they felt this exercise would be a great way to introduce Shakespeare to classes or as a starting point to explore language and the making-up of words. A Key Stage 1 adaptation might also be useful using Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhyme as a starting point.
The last part of the day explored how movement can demystify text, in this case Shakespeare. Participants were asked to lie on the floor and listen to a short, simplified version of the Romeo and Juliet story. Then as a group the teachers were invited to come up with an adjective, a word associated with nature, and an animal that described the feelings in the story. The words chosen were ‘yearning', ‘wave’ and, perhaps a bit surprisingly, 'meerkat'! Using these words as inspiration, in smaller groups the teachers then created movement sequences to music. The final development was to add one of Juliet’s speeches to the movement sequences and share it with the whole group.
The groups made several reflections on how this exercise had created a deeper understanding of the text. Many also felt that using movement in this way would enable students to translate abstract text into something more personal and relevant to them, and this would help students better relate to the language and overall meaning of the play.
After a fun and practical day, everyone was tired but positive that they had learnt new skills and exercises to take back into school. One teacher summed it well when she said, “It’s good to be reminded that creativity and learning can come through play.”
You can download the activity sheet from the workshop here, and you can hear how some of the other teachers found the day by watching the video below: