Acting Out: Literature, Drama, and Connecting With History




This article describes a successful teacher-professor collaboration to plan interdisciplinary curriculum and team-teach it in a first-grade classroom. The goal was to use literature and drama to help children learn about and find meaning in African American experiences and perspectives. Writing, staging, and performing three plays about African American history had a profound effect on the students. Dramatic engagement greatly enhanced their understanding of the stories, adding depth and dimension to the plot, setting, and characters that simple reading of the printed words could not accomplish. Producing the plays allowed students not only to improve their basic skills but also to experience the excitement and joy that literacy can bring to life. The stories that students read and acted out stimulated their questions and desire to share their knowledge with one another. They became intensely involved in the stories, disturbed by the history they were learning, and committed to learning more about and reducing prejudice in their world. The article includes recommendations for teachers interested in integrating literature, drama, and history.