Workshop Reviews: 10 Day Masterclass in Drama Curriculum Design

David Porter
Friday, October 1, 2021

David Porter reviews the 10 Day Masterclass in Drama Curriculum Design resource from Burts Drama.

Burts Drama

Through his writing and courses Keith Burt has for years provided a practical, down-to-earth, hands-on approach to ideas and how to implement them in the drama classroom/studio for beginners and old hands alike.

His 10-day designing curriculum class comprised short daily CPD videos, tasks, and resources ‘to curate and create your ideal drama curriculum.’ There were two Q&A sessions – chances to put Keith on the spot to make the most of new thinking.

We're used to learning and teaching online these days, but these sessions of teaching, questioning and tasks remained accessible, informal, unfussy, and thought-provoking. You could pause or go back to sessions to suit; participants were promised permanent access to the resource.

He opened with a session on Identifying (your) Knowledge. What do you WANT to teach and why – themes, skills, genres, practitioners, performance, technical theatre? For exams, it is also what you NEED to teach. He probed the question – what is a broad and balanced curriculum? And what is it in drama?

Burt designed simple, effective worksheets and checklists to reinforce learning. I liked references to audience, safety in drama/theatre and your own school contextual boundaries.

Next, he set about identifying the ‘big picture’ via the importance of developing schema and the role of cognitive processes (remembering, understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating, creating) – the theory. Factual, conceptual, procedural and metacognition are the knowledge types underpinning the language of drama/key terminology.

Over two sessions he wove strands of knowledge into individual year group learning, to explore the content of units of learning and ways of delivering factual knowledge to students. Next, he looked at useful retrieval (memory) strategies in teaching/learning. The session on using rehearsal as deliberate and guided practice to extend students was especially valuable, as was the use of writing practice to learn terminology and evaluation. He included opportunities to ‘challenge and stretch’ every student plus a session on blending cultural capital such as visits out and companies in to buttress your curriculum. He discussed extending wide student reading opportunities and concluded with a strategy for essential summative assessment.

I wondered if this would be better in the summer term before autumn planning is completed, but he argued that he didn't know what students needed till he started teaching them! At £40 it's cracking good value. Any time is good to review our teaching and improve it.