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Learning and assessment in Drama

Posted: November 13, 2020

One of our main focuses in the Drama department at Discovery College is finding ways to give our students agency and a more active role in leading their learning. As a department, we are committed to furthering our teaching practices and learning strategies along with modern research and great pedagogy. 

Having spoken with students from all year levels, we heard the following things over and over again. They worry about assessments, and disassociate their learning from what they see as the final all important, end of the world task. We believe that a child’s focus at school should be learning, and the assessment is simply an evaluation of their progress. When students ask us, “Is this assessed?” our reply is usually, “How is your learning?”

We aim to help students better understand what the expectations are in each unit. We do this by discussing the knowledge, skills, creativity and responses that are needed in our tasks. This enables them to continually improve and develop, which is what we all want.

We are moving into a new exciting phase, where students demonstrate their understanding of what is expected and how they and their peers have learned. In the first unit of this year in Drama, students will report their own assessment levels in criterion B: Developing Skills and peer-assess a partner for criterion C: Thinking.

For criterion B: Developing Skills, students create a short video. In this they report what skills they have learned in the unit, how they developed those skills and how they applied the skills to a performance – culminating in awarding themselves a level of achievement from 0-8.

For criterion C: Thinking Creatively, students work in pairs and interview each other, using teacher-devised questions that guide the students to provide evidence of their creativity throughout the unit. The interviewer and the student then agree on an appropriate level (0-8) to award the evidence of learning. 

Students who award themselves a level different to what the teacher expected are given the opportunity to discuss and amend that level before reporting is final. These discussions are vital to standardize our mutual understanding of what each level looks like, and to be sure that the teacher and the student are in agreement with the levels awarded and reported.

So far
In this first unit, in a year 7 class, approximately 20% of students gave themselves a lower level than the teacher would have. 
In the peer assessment the levels awarded were 95% in line with those of the teacher.

We are extremely pleased with students’ honesty, kindness and fairness when making these choices. We now plan to continue these forms of assessment for criteria B and C to further student agency through the year. Our hope is for students to develop a greater understanding of their learning and the learning of others.

If you would like to review the Drama curriculum or the MYP Arts objectives, please view this quick tutorial about accessing the information on Ding! As always, we will use ARR on Ding to provide evidence of learning as well as reporting. 

We encourage you to initiate some conversations at home with your child about their learning and assessment in Drama. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions or get in touch for concerns.

Kind regards
Danielle Veilleux
Head of Drama