The Benefits of Using Drama Activities in Your Classroom

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Next up on the emotional intelligence list is—wait for it…drama in the classroom…the kind that won’t make you nuts! This subject is near and dear to my heart because I have been a community theatre enthusiast most of my life! I suppose I just gravitated toward drama because I liked the fantasy, the story, the chance to be someone else.

Unknowingly, drama was actually helping me become more in tune with other people—on and off the stage. That’s the crux of helping students in the classroom with dramatic presentations. They allow kids the chance to grapple with their own emotions and personalities as they learn how to interpret a character in a play. Kids forge self-awareness skills each time they attempt to interpret a character in a story. These skills spill over into real life relationships.

Self-Management. If there is one quality a teacher wants in students, it’s self-management. Kids who can manage their own practice, their own behavior, and their own reactions to situations have a better chance at success in life. What better platform to practice these behaviors than a play!

Self-Direction. When kids engage in drama, they learn how to explore different parts of their personalities…sometimes parts that are very confusing—maybe even a bit scary. But, the setting for a play serves as a safe-zone by giving them the freedom to try various approaches to interpret their character. Kids who learn how to balance their own emotional needs and wants develop self-direction, in other words, they get motivated. Self-direction is slightly more complex than self-management. Self-directing kids learn not only how to adjust their expectations of themselves, but also that of others. Because drama pushes students to explore their own motivations and the motivations of others, they learn how to direct their own emotional messages and how to perceive the emotional messages of others. What a life benefit!

Fun. While drama does help kids with connecting their emotions with learning, let’s not forget that for many kids, drama is just plain fun! Just as in great novels and stories that kids read, a dramatic or comedic play can have a powerful impact on a kid’s outlook on life. Being involved with others, acting out roles, pretending to be something or someone else is often just what kids need to elevate their self-esteem and grow their confidence.

Give it a Try! To get the drama started in your classroom, search the internet for “plays for kids in the classroom.” You will find more than enough resources to get you going. Also, check out your anthologies and literature sets. Sometimes it is better for you and your students to write your own plays based on stories you all love. However you implement it, take it slow…start small. Then, as you all grow in your ability to interpret the various stories, branch out. I have no doubt you will be pleased with the results you see in your students.

(This post is part of a series on Emotional Intelligence. To start at the beginning, click here.)

Sound and Spelling Rules: How to handle the "ei" vowel pair

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I am sure you have seen posts like this before. I know I have, and I get a charge out of them. Whether or not you like to teach systematic phonics and spelling, you probably have a hard time getting kids to lock in certain sounds and spelling rules…and this one can be a doozy!  

Let’s look at this dastardly duo up close. You have probably heard the old rule “I before E except after C?” Well, the rule doesn’t really end there. Nevertheless, this rule doesn’t always make spelling words that contain an “ei” vowel pair any easier. Let’s try it this way.


Teach a Sound Rule AND a Spelling Rule

1. Teach students that “ei” will sound like one of the following FOUR sounds in most English words, where an “ei” is found together in a word:

ē (Long E sound)  

ā (Long A sound)   

ĭ (Short I sound)  

ī (Long I sound)

2. Teach words together that use both an “ei” or an “ie” in the middle and follow this simple rule:

Use ei after the letter C and to say /ā/; otherwise—use ie.

See how easy it is to spell these words right using this rule?

chief               tie                   field                beige              niece              heirs              weird


We already see either an “ie” or an “ei” in each word, so all we have to do is look at the letter in front of each vowel pair to be able to get their order right. If there’s a C, it’s “ei”; if not, it has to be ie. Then, to pronounce the vowel pair correctly, use the four sounds we learned earlier:

    ē (Long E sound)           ā (Long A sound)       ĭ (Short I sound)        ī (Long I sound)


Yes, a few exceptions exist, but by getting more direct with the rules, the exceptions won’t present a major sound or spelling roadblock. In future posts, we’ll check out some other letter combos that give us fits. See you then!


Study Skills: Developing good habits that last a lifetime

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I simply cannot wait until spring to get my home and office in order; my brain won’t allow it!  Both of these spaces need a major overhaul.  (Trust me!  With four grown-ups and a grandchild in the house, I often feel like I need professional help from someone like Marie Kondo.)

For me, the process of organization begins with sorting all the stuff that needs to be put away or filed.   Since I know that I’m the one that will have to retrieve the items later, I have to do the job all by myself!  Yes, I have designated storage areas for things like tax receipts, important documents, Christmas decorations, and so on and so forth.  It just seems as though I delay putting this stuff away until I can’t stand to see it any longer! 

Even though I dread the time it takes to get organized, for some strange reason, I wind up feeling greatly satisfied when everything is tucked away and in its place.  These feelings remind me of the Shurley English Study Skills lessons centered on a character named Quigley.  Quigley is a guy that seems to learn life lessons the hard way, and I can personally relate to the stories used to describe him when he is disorganized and when he’s not.

The Study Skills lessons focus on the steps Quigley must learn to get organized, listen, and use his time wisely.  (There is even a Study Skills Jingle to help Quigley on his journey!) These lessons teach important life skills and are applicable to everyone, including me!  Here’s a glimpse at what’s involved…

How to Get Organized: 

1. Write it down! Keep an assignment notebook to record assignments, page numbers and due dates.

2. Put it away! When you put things away, always put them in the same place.  If you know where something goes before you put it away, you will already know where it is when you need it again.

3. Organize your space! Each time you put something in your desk, backpack, or locker, put it exactly where it goes.  Avoid “stuffing” things in at random.  Start today by having a complete clean-out and fix-up.

4. Divide and conquer! Keep each subject in a separate folder so that you can find papers easily.  Put all folders and notebooks on one side of your desk, and put all textbooks on the other side.  Small items should be kept in the front in a zippered bag.

5. Keep it up! Staying organized is easy if you take just a few minutes every day to reorganize.  If you don’t do it every day, you will get unorganized in no time.


How to Become a Better Listener:

1. Listen carefully! Look directly at the speaker.  Listen to every word, and focus your mind on what the speaker is saying.  Don’t fidget.  Hearing happens in your ears, but listening happens in your brain.

2. Think about it! Think about what the speaker is saying.  Does it make sense?  Do you agree or disagree with the speaker’s opinion?  Can you repeat what the speaker said, but in your own words?

3.  Ask questions! Try to understand what the speaker is saying.  When the speaker says something you don’t understand, raise your hand and ask the speaker to explain.

4. Write it down! Write down anything that you think you might forget.  Write down important information like dates, times, addresses, and so on.  Also, write down questions to ask the speaker.

How to Use Your Time Wisely:

1. Plan ahead! If you know you won’t have time to do something later, do it now!  If you don’t have time now, plan to do it at a definite time, not just “later.”

2. Prioritize! “Prioritize” is just a fancy word that means “do the most important thing first.”  When that is finished, do the next most important thing.

3. Make a schedule! Write down all of the things you have to do.  Write down the time and the day you will do them.  Check things off as you finish them.

4. Think about homework before you leave school! Check your assignment folder and decide what you need to take home.  Put books and folders you will need in your book bag.  At home, put your finished homework in your bag, and you will always have it ready to take to school.

5.  Schedule a time and place to study! Think about your family’s routine and decide on a good study time away from distractions like TV and conversations.  Have all the supplies you will need at your study area.  Concentrate on what you are doing.  Keep your eyes on your work and your pencil moving until you’ve finished the task at hand.


Do you need a comprehensive Study Skills lesson plan? Don't worry, Shurley English has you covered! Simply go to the Unit Studies Section in the back of your Shurley English book and check it out! Our Study Skills Unit is jammed packed with ideas to help the struggling, organizationally challenged students in your class.