As I mentioned earlier, I was fortunate enough to attend an extensive reading workshop by Bill Bowler a couple of weeks ago, which now serves as a revelation for me because I approach the issue of integrating extensive reading into classes more enthusiastically than ever. Those of you who have read EXTENSIVE DRAMA-WAYS TO ENHANCE LEARNING (1) will remember that the particular post was about staging a chat show using any of the characters that Oxford University Press offers in the Bookworms series.
The second drama activity that can be applied as an EXTENSION to extensive reading is called “Character Role Play”. What it entails is that students get in pairs and each one picks a graded reader character; for example, Pollyanna and Dracula. Then, they compare and contrast the qualities of each other’s characters and try to create a context suitable for those characters to be able to help each other with their desires.
Although it might sound a bit challenging for students at first, it actually involves a lot of fun. I know it is because I had the opportunity to try it in one of my classes last week, and I can say without hesitation that my students loved it. I must also say that I modified the activity to some extent by asking students to pick any character from any tale that they had read because we had not specifically studied for extensive reading since the start of the module.
Back to the “role play”, the pairs decide WHERE and WHEN their characters meet and WHAT THEY WANT from each other. This done, they negotiate for a possible way of helping each other so that the desires of both parties are met and everyone is happy. Supposing the characters are Pollyanna and Dracula, the former can teach the latter to be content with drinking the blood of animals without harming humans, and Dracula can help Pollyanna to convince people that it is better to be a human than a vampire for they are blessed with the luxury of eating and drinking whatever they may like as well as the beauty of sunshine and the blue skies.
During the workshop, two of my colleagues staged a great performance playing Saladin and Dracula, and Saladin promised Dracula a certain amount of blood everyday while Dracula said he could help Saladin in his fight against his enemies.
Still I must point out that the performances staged by my students were by no means inferior to that of my colleagues. Some of them were even more imaginative than my colleagues and me.
This being the case, I feel confident that you would have no problem administering “Character Role Play” in your classes. All that is required is trust in students, and they will easily do the rest as their imagination can really surprise teachers.
Don’t you think it is at least worth a try?