________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 10. . . .November 5, 2010.


Drama Schemes, Themes & Dreams: How to Plan, Structure, and Assess Classroom Events That Engage All Learners.

Larry Swartz & Debbie Nyman.
Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers, 2010.
176 pp., pbk., $24.95.
ISBN 978-1-55138-253-1.

Subject Headings:
Improvisation (Acting)-Study and teaching (Elementary).
Improvisation (Acting)-Study and teaching (Middle school).
Drama in education.
Active learning.
Learning strategies.

Professional: Grades 4-9.

Review by Jocelyn A Dimm.





Working in the classroom in the 21st century, we are aware of the need to open the classroom doors to the issues, events, and themes, challenging and shaping our students? lives. Drama helps to convince young people that the world belongs to them and that they can affect their world in constructive ways when they engage with it. It is essential that we encourage each student to understand and to act responsibly in order to live as a caring citizen inside and outside the classroom.

True to form, referring to the well-written and planned elementary text, The New Dramathemes, 3rd ed. (Swartz, 2002), Swartz & Nyman (2010) present a valid, viable resource for any educator working with young adolescent learners in Drama: Schemes, Themes, and Dreams. The text more than meets its goal of providing plans, strategies, and structures of assessment that engage all learners through exploring appropriate themes introduced in its eight chapters: Being different, Identity, Bullying, Communication, History, The Refuge Experience, War, and Dreams. The themes from this text are chosen from a variety of literary genres, such as picture book, poetry, novel, image, graphic text, and script. The introduction gives a solid argument for why this text will provide a workable frame for focusing on pertinent issues, multi-literacy skills, cross-curricular experiential learning, and valuable learning contexts for young adolescent learners.

     Each chapter has been framed in the following way:

Theme overview
Learning opportunities
Launching the Drama

Games, movement, and activities with a skills focus
Mental set prep for theme
Framing the theme

Drama learning that sets context to support student connection
Development of role-play and improvisation
A Drama Structure

Overview of drama episodes
Literary source from a particular genre
Extending the Drama

Suggestions for extending the theme
Opportunities for further drama work
Script Variations

Opportunities for interpreting and improvising new scripts
Opportunities for students to build interpretation
Script sources
Strategy Schemes

Offer a menu of suggestions for exploring a focus strategy
Provide framework to deepen work further
Assessment Profiles

Rubrics, criteria checklists, self-assessment
Recommended Resources

Contemporary lists of literature available
The references and resources
referred to in this text are strong, reliable ones and reflect the expertise and experience of the authors, and their commitment to quality learning through dramatic engagement focusing on relevant issues for young adolescent learners.

Highly Recommended.

Jocelyn A. Dimm is a sessional instructor and a PhD Candidate at the University of Victoria where she teaches drama education and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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