Learning Through Drama in the Primary Years

This article is an extract from Learning Through Drama in the Primary Years by David Farmer available in paperback and Kindle.
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Thought tracking (also called thought tapping) is a quick fire strategy enabling children to verbally express their understanding of characters and situations without the need for rehearsal. Students gain confidence to speak in front of others, preparing the ground for them to move into extended improvisation. It is surprisingly easy for pupils to identify with a role and express their thoughts after holding a still image for a few moments. The teacher can efficiently gather feedback from all the students.

thought-trackingThought tracking is a natural follow-up to still images and freeze frames. Once children have made an image, explain that when you tap them on the shoulder you would like them to speak the thoughts or feelings of their character aloud. At the beginning this may just be one or two words but children will soon gain confidence to express themselves in longer sentences. It doesn’t take long to thought-track each child in a group so that you reveal a wide range of attitudes and feelings from different characters.

Students may want to be inanimate objects or animals in a still image. This is fine, as animal characters can have thoughts – such as “grrrr” or “I’m hungry” and you may find that even a lamppost can express its opinion, especially if you have used speaking objects with pupils. You can ask characters specific questions such as what they feel about another character, what they are dreaming or what they want to do next. Thought tracking can easily be employed in the classroom with children at their desks.

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