Of Mice and Men
For drama specialists, this scheme can fit into a variety of specifications. It provides:
- stimuli for GCSE coursework devised pieces
- a general introduction to drama skills, overlapping neatly with students’ English work
- and/or material to enrich students’ drama portfolio development if working on other related stimuli or texts
Meanwhile, for English teachers facing a time of change in syllabi, Of Mice and Men continues to feature in new GCSE English specifications as a ‘different cultures’ text, and will be a tried and tested option for many, who are understandably reluctant to branch out at a time of increased workload, and yet who would like to enrich students’ English diet and create functional opportunities for applying students’ knowledge in different contexts. This scheme aims to be a bridge towards that change in pedagogy. It will enhance the teaching of the text through a range of active approaches, which can be used in a cross curricular way.
In this spirit, you’ll find here eight drama approaches to the novel. The scheme takes a section by section pathway through the book, including more technical activities too, leading to both English and drama outcomes. It can therefore be taken as a whole standalone, to be taught as part of the English and/or drama curriculum, or can be ‘dipped into’ in order to complement an existing English unit.
With references to group work, investigation and thinking skills, the module builds to higher level thinking skills of synthesis and evaluation towards the end. Liaise with other staff about how they teach and organise investigative lessons, as you may be able to provide opportunities for students to apply what they have learnt in a different curriculum area. Likewise, if your school is developing a ‘Thinking Curriculum’, this scheme provides an excellent opportunity to be explicit with students about the type of thinking you expect them to do each lesson.
Lessons last about an hour and teaching spaces should be adaptable for whole class teaching, circle time, group rehearsal areas and a performance area. Access to PCs or laptops would be helpful, and somewhere to show film is needed.
- Lesson 1: contrasting characters through vocabulary work, whole class discussion and performance
- Lesson 2: using flashback in group work to explore the reading strategies of predicting and questioning
- Lesson 3: using role-on-the-wall to develop insight into characters, and interpretive and analytical thinking
- Lesson 4: developing performance skills by building on role on the wall
- Lesson 5: using ‘prop boxes’ to stimulate investigative group work around character and events
- Lesson 6: visual and aural activities to develop responses to the writer’s creation of mood and atmosphere
- Lesson 7: using Forum theatre to compare and synthesise clues within the text, and consider the way the author builds up to an event
- Lesson 8: exploring the effect of surrealism at the end of the novel through devised group work