The Drama Box

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Welcome to The Drama Box Blog.

 

Kirsten McCrossan is a Scottish drama practitioner who has been delivering drama workshops in schools across the UK, from Sunderland to Shetland since 2004.

 

Kirsten set up The Drama Box to inspire more teachers to use more drama through attending professional training and learning online.

 

Kirsten has an online training course available on www.thedramabox.online and she is also available for twilight sessions and in-school demos.

 

@the_drama_box

www.thedramabox.com

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hello@kirstenmccrossan.com

By thedramabox, Nov 2 2018 03:45PM

Hiya, Anne here! I thought I would share with you a wee summary of what I've been doing with The Drama Box this week. I was really excited to do work experience that was involved in Drama and the Arts as I’ve been doing drama for 10 years. I’ve been volunteering in drama classes at Largs Youth Theatre for 2 years and a few months ago I was accepted into the Junior Conservatoire at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for Musical Theatre, which assured me that I wanted a career in this industry.


On Monday (my first day) I threw myself straight into The Drama Box’ pupil workshops and helped Louisa lead 3 P7 classes. This was a great experience because I got to see how pupils can go from being super shy and quiet to totally confident and full of ideas just in an hour and a half. The next four days, I was in the office with Amy, and learned how to use Stencil, Biteable and Canva which I had some fun using to make cool marketing tools and twitter posts. I took the Teachers Online Course which I enjoyed because it showed how drama ties in with the curriculum which I'm sure is important to many teachers. I used Capsule to gather information about a ton of Scottish schools. I really enjoyed using my own knowledge of drama games to create two One Page Wonders and I loved being creative with drawings and ideas for the twitter posts.

This week, I’ve seen so many different sides to the business, from their products (pupil workshops, teachers online course, etc) to marketing (social media, colour scheme, fliers) to the more corporate side of the business (phone numbers, emails, addresses). I’ve learned a ton about how drama can help kids become so much more confident and social and how it can really prepare them for the world of work.


The marketing side of things was really new to me, but I absolutely loved it which made me think that this might be something I would like to do a bit further down the line (although my heart still follows the stage).


This experience could not have been better and I couldn’t imagine doing my work experience anywhere else!


THANK YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK, THE DRAMA BOX!


From Anne


By thedramabox, Mar 27 2018 02:22PM

Last year, we had the pleasure of delivering drama workshops as part of the Scottish Book Trust's 'Shared Reading' project. It was then that we first engaged with Michelle Sloan, author of The Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee which was shortlisted for the Bookbug Picture Book Prize 2018. Michelle shares our passion for drama in its ability to bring literacy to life and so, it is only natural that we asked her to be our very first guest blogger...


When I was at Primary School in Edinburgh many moons ago, (we’re talking the early 1980s here), I remember in P6 we did a class study of the novel, Children on the Oregon Trail. From memory, it was quite an abstract plot for a wee Scottish lassie! That is, the notion of travelling across the North West of America in covered wagons in the late 1800s seemed somehow alien to me. And if I’m being honest I might have disconnected from the story - but here’s the thing: it was tied into our drama lessons, not only with the class teacher but with our visiting Drama Specialist. These class lessons then culminated in a day at the city’s drama centre. That’s right! Edinburgh had a drama centre called Dr. Bells. It was a bus ride across town to the centre, at the foot of Leith Walk. There we linked up with two or three other schools for a day of workshops: re enacting, exploring, talking, problem solving, experimenting not to mention eating lunch and playing outside with our new friends, before hopping on the bus back to school. What a day! I remember it clearly - I remember loving the experience and how we all brought that book to life. The story became visceral, real and hugely exciting. It was undoubtedly one the best days of my primary school life.


Around twenty years later, I was working in Edinburgh as a Primary Teacher and I had the chance to return to my studies. I decided Drama was a natural choice, meaning I could combine both qualifications to become a specialist Drama teacher. But alas! No sooner had my studies begun when specialist teachers were phased out of Scottish Education. It was a blow - not just to my career plans but to the quality and dynamism of primary education in Scotland. The role of drama steadily slipped away, becoming a rarely utilised tool and for many teachers, feared. Its place in the curriculum as a partner for literacy became at best, undervalued at worst, forgotten - sidelined to gather dust on the shelf of education past.


But now, many, many years on, when the Scottish Government is invested in raising attainment, it is wonderful to see the resurgence of drama and literacy through the work of The Drama Box. I became aware of their work when, alongside Scottish Book Trust, they ran workshops across Scottish schools with the three books shortlisted for the Bookbug Picture Book Prize 2018. As the author of one of those books, The Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee, it was thrilling to track on Twitter their work with primary children across Scotland. Drama and literacy are a perfect partnership, boosting comprehension; bringing fun and energy; keeping children connected to stories by lifting them off the page and into life. Having Drama firmly back in its rightful place in the curriculum is essential to raising attainment - it is the very definition of ‘active learning.’ But most importantly, it’s great fun! And learning should be a joy!


By thedramabox, Nov 3 2016 12:42AM

Wow wee. So today was the day when everything just came so perfectly together for The Drama Box Ltd.



Three years ago I owned and ran a fantastic children's drama school In Edinburgh. The transformations that I was witnessing within the students were phenomenal and I could see that right in front of me drama was changing the lives of these young people and allowing them to be comfortable, confident and happy within themselves.



I wondered how amazing it would be if I could spread the effects of drama participation all over the world and not just in a small area of Edinburgh. I wondered how I could encourage more children to do more drama.... well today I can say this is starting to happen.



I have spent the last three years developing training courses with the aim to inspire more primary teachers to be confident with using more drama. The Drama Box Ltd was officially started in August 2016 and already I have had the absolute pleasure of working with many primary teachers from all over Scotland and beyond.



Today I was working with probation teachers from West Dunbartonshire Council. The probationers are doing four weeks of twilight drama sessions with me and today was session two of four.



The first thing I asked was if anyone had managed to use any of the drama teaching structures or techniques we had covered in the previous session. What came next was phenomenal...



One teacher has a lively p6 class of around 28 pupils. Not only had she tried out the techniques with her class, but she had discussed drama with them, discussed drama vocabulary with them, used one of the exercises as a starter for persuasive writing within literacy, used an exercise to bring topic work to life and used an exercise as a cool down in PE. The way she described how her pupils had enjoyed, questioned and embraced the new drama activities was brilliant and her own personal surprise at how all of the class had responded positively was wonderful. This was from a teacher who had described her feelings towards teaching drama as being 'basic and limited' just a couple of weeks before. Hats off to her for taking her new learning straight back to school and completely going for it! Lucky pupils!



Another teacher has a large class of p3s and had also tried out of the sections of the warm-up with the pupils. She had also used this in another curricular area, this time within physical literacy. This teacher explained with a bright smile on her face how her pupils had all shown outstanding focus within the game and that the game had had a real lasting calming affect on the whole class. She also explained how her class had been completely engaged in the exercise and excited by it. The thing that inspired me the most was that this teacher had taken the exercise from The Drama Box training and adapted it to suit that particular lesson and by doing this created an entirely new version of the game with different aims and objectives - this is what it is all about - taking that creative ownership.



The third teacher was planning on using another drama structure the next morning with a large p7 class and using it to explore WWII. She said it would be the perfect lesson to allow her pupils to explore the knowledge they had already been learning before. She enthusiastically told me she would drop me an email to let me know how it went - and I cannot wait to hear what happens!



So now I know that these three wonderful teachers have been inspired to use these ideas from The Drama Box and that already there are their 80 pupils all doing more drama.


The start of something very special...



To learn all of the techniques mentioned and more, sign up for The Drama Box Online at www.thedramabox.online


To book a face-to face training session for your staff please contact: hello@kirstenmccrossan.com











By thedramabox, May 16 2016 04:59PM

Albert Einstein once said:


"Everyone is a genius; but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it is stupid."


This very idea has been my driving force for years.


For the last 12 years I have had the privilege of visiting hundreds of different schools, education establishments and youth groups across the country. It is an utter joy, but there was one thing that started to worry me. A lot. So much that I decided I had to take action.


After only a few months of being a professional drama practitioner I had already noticed that after nearly every workshop I led with a class, the teachers would say the following two things:


1. That was great! I could never do that!

2. See Wee Jimmy over there, I have never seen him respond like that before, he's usually so quiet/reserved/disengaged/hyperactive/the list goes on.


Way back in the day as a 22 year old, I was pretty flattered by these comments. Wow, I thought, check me out I am doing a great job! But as the years went on and I heard about more and more and more Wee Jimmys, I started to worry. What were all of these Wee Jimmys across the country missing out on that I was giving them? I was no rocket scientist, no brain surgeon; just a girl in a dining hall with an hour or two of drama. Why was this having such a major impact on certain individuals?


I wasn't really sure. Maybe I had magical powers? Maybe I did. So what were the magical powers? I was keen to work it out and share them out as I was passionate about showing teachers that they could absolutely do what I was doing; as it was pretty easy! And think of all the Wee Jimmys that would benefit!


The years went on and I met more and more Wee Jimmys. Every single one has stuck in my heart. I would go home and question it over and over to myself... if Wee Jimmy has never responded like this before, and he is in primary 6... what is he missing? What is usually missing and what am I providing? I still wasn't sure.


I would mull it over. What do these drama workshops entail that could potentially be different? The freedom to fail; no right and no wrong answers; being physically free, being at one with your own unique imagination, being silly, me prancing around like a numpty throwing myself on the floor? I didn't know if these things were missing or not from everyday school lessons as I wasn't there - so these were just random guesses.


Then I met a bigger Jimmy. This was the one that made the rage run through my veins. This was only a year or so ago. Say 2015.


I arrived at the high school and my first class was due to arrive in the hall. I was checking if there was any behavioural or medical information I needed to know before I started. The teacher told me that I should be wary of a pupil who was a problem in the school. This pupil had 'nothing between the ears' and had caused embarrassment to the school in front of visitors before. I couldn't hear anything else as I was so shocked and horrified at a pupil being described to me as having 'nothing between the ears'. I couldn't believe my own ears.


Just then the class entered the hall and my energy was consumed by the workshop. I enjoyed every moment of the class and had completely forgotten my conversation with the teacher that had occurred beforehand.


The class of secondary pupils were an utter blast to work with. Often to explain an exercise I ask for volunteers to do a demo for the rest of the group with me. I had one particular pupil who had helped me out doing this a number of times. He was calm, bright, intelligent, hilarious, polite, courteous and a role model. An utter delight. If someone had asked me to select a pupil to represent the school within drama I would have have suggested him without any hesitation.


The class were all on task working away in groups and suddenly the previous conversation popped back into my head so I quietly said to the teacher how amazing the class were and I commented that the problem boy I had been told about must be off. No the teacher replied, he’s over there. I was completely confused. So much so that I spent about a minute clarifying. I asked her to clarify it was the same person over and over. What on earth was she talking about. It was the same boy. I jumped to his defence and started to bullet point all of the positive and amazing things that he had done in that short space of time. The teacher agreed to watch the rest of the session.


After the class left, the teacher was ‘impressed’ by the boy. I was dumbfounded. Imagine people describing you as having ‘nothing between the ears’ - I’m sure it was never said to his face, but even that vibe - it's insanely unfair - and wrong. He has a whole lot going on in between his ears.


I spoke to the management of the school and reiterated what I had seen. I sang this boys praises and I was heard. I don’t know what happened next.


It made me think of all the Wee Jimmys and all the Wee Jamimas that I had met over the years and why they could be slipping through the net.


If I could hazard a guess at what the drama workshops provide that allow the Wee Jimmys to step up - I’d say it could be the environment. Like the fish that Einstein spoke of being asked to climb the tree, no matter how much they try, or how much extra tuition they get - the fish will never be any good at tree climbing. Even if they get a bit good at it, by that time they will have most likely damaged their scales and fins and their swimming wouldn’t even be that hot.


I imagine all the Wee Jimmys are the fish. They are all in the forest and I have never seen a fish thrive in a forest. The fish just need water. Maybe they have never been in the water, and maybe they don’t even know that water exists.


Maybe the drama workshops were the first swim in the water. It would feel natural, relaxing and maybe a bit magical.


And there is the magical power. I think.


So back to those two comments I hear time and time again after a drama workshop:


1. That was great! I could never do that!


Yes you can, let me show you how!


2. See *Wee Jimmy over there, I have never seen him respond like that before, he's usually so quiet/reserved/disengaged/hyperactive/the list goes on.


Let’s try to change that. Let’s see how he gets on in the pool.


I have taken action by creating training courses in drama for teachers, I want to show all the wonderful teachers I have worked with that they can easily deliver these transormative drama workshops week after week, and help all the Wee Jimmys around the world.


EVERYONE IS A GENIUS.


*We are all a Wee Jimmy in some areas of life.



By thedramabox, May 12 2016 07:05PM

Today I went to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with my 84 year old grandpa and my mum. It is one of my favourite musicals and I know all the colours off by heart and could do you the full thing beginning to end.


I was looking forward to seeing it and drove us all up from Ayr. We had a lovely lunch and then headed to the theatre and sat in the stalls. When music began playing today at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow I was completely caught off-guard when tears started spouting from my eyes! No one had even stood on the stage yet. Joseph hadn’t been sold to be a slave yet. Poor wee Benjamin hadn’t been accused of stealing Joseph’s precious golden cup yet. I was just sitting there listening to the intro music.


As the show began I pondered why I had such an emotional connection to even just the idea of this live show. Then I realised that this had been the start. The start of everything for me.


I was sitting next to my wee grandpa who is in his mid-eighties, so just to have the privilege to still be in his company and enjoying shared experiences and common interests is an absolute joy. It was my grandpa who had introduced me to the theatre. He took my brother and I along to The Gaiety Theatre in Ayr on a regular basis. As well as getting to see The Gaiety Whirl and the pantomimes, there also used to be an annual tour of Joseph that we always went to see. Oh my word I loved it. I was a wee mesmerised child; taking it all in. What is this? People exuding energy, singing smiling, dancing, having fun, telling us a story with humour and continuous ever changing spine tingling music.


From then on my drama training included a cassette tape of Joseph, a tape player, a bedroom, a whole load of energy and my dad shouting up the stairs at me telling me to shut up.


Like many of us, my joy was listening to music in my bedroom. I believed that if I put on my Kylie record - yes a record, we are back in the 80s here, that the sun would come out. Sometimes if I wanted to go out to play I’d leave it on with the sound right down so the sun would stay out while I was out.


Days were spent dancing around and singing along to anything. One day my step mum asked me if I liked dancing so much then why didn’t I start going to classes? It was not something I had ever really thought about. I was a horse rider and that took up my Saturdays.


Then one day when I was in p5 a poster appeared on the Heathfield Primary School noticeboard about a new dance club opening in Heathfield Community Centre, Karen’s Dance Club. Monday nights! I was going!


A couple of years went by of dancing a couple of times a week and then at the start of primary seven Mr Vincent announced that we were doing a production of Joseph in the summer. You are kidding me!! YES!!! The excitement was too much.


There was a sign up sheet where you were to write down what part you would like to audition for. All my dance pals said that they were putting their names down as dancers, so I did the same. I did a wee singing audition for Mr Vincent. Now Mr Vincent was a pal of my dad’s, they had gone to uni together to do their teacher training. Anyway… after my wee sing-a-long to Joseph Mr Vincent said “Tell your dad you’re a good singer!” YES!! I was beaming. I got home and told my dad who burst out laughing and told me he was only saying that because he was his friend. Burst.


Anyway I did not let him get to me and I was excited to hear what part I had. Aww naww I hadn’t got a part. I’ve written about this moment before as it was a big moment for me at ten years old. Mr Vincent said - and for this he continues to be a role model to me - “If anyone is sitting thinking that they are really unhappy with what they have - now is the time to say”. I wasn’t the brave one who put my hand up, but Kimberley McGraw was, and inspired by her braveness I put my hand up too. Mr Vincent said “Oh Kirsten, you hadn’t put your name down for a part, OK you can be Levi”. Thank-you Kimberley for your guts! Oh and Kimberley became a brother too.


What an opportunity; to get to recreate the show that has been in your local theatre in your own school hall. We had a really enthusiastic PE teacher who did our choreography, I can’t remember her name but I do remember her good energy! There was one rehearsal when a group of us had to come in late as we had had our cycling proficiency test. Mr Vincent was stressed and snapped at me to read my script and not play with my (Tuffty Top) cycling helmet. Come on now Mr Vincent, us primary sevens have a lot on our plates calm down, anyway I don’t need the script I know all of the words! I didn’t say any of that, I took a massive beamer and swapped my helmet for my script.


Wow, what an amazing few months it was rehearsing and performing that show. This was it. It was the start for me. I have said it before, but I do not know what would have become of me if I hadn’t found my outlet. It is my mission to spread the magic of drama across the world and inspire more drama in more schools so that more children can reap the many benefits that drama bursts with.


I am the biggest ambassador for drama in primary schools. It’s the energy, freedom and the outlet that is the magic. Just yesterday a pupil said to me that there should be more drama in his primary school as it is better than doing work. Doing drama is work; to him it is ridiculously fun work. Amazing!


In the training that I give to teachers I strip it right back to basics to allow a starting point that is simple, easy for teachers to deliver and super effective in providing pupils a creative and exciting experience. Good drama experiences do not have to include putting on a show. All you need is a room, some great ideas for drama games and exercises (this is what I am here for!) and your pupils.


Anyway back to the Joseph show I saw today. The audience were buzzing. My grandpa was singing along the whole way at 80 odd years old and there was a wee girl in the front row standing up dancing the whole way through literally lit up by the show. The lady on the other side of me, her wee girl was in it so she was brimming with pride and the performers were giving everything they had to us. A room full of electricity.


So I knew what the tears were for. They were tears of gratitude and tears of recognition of the start of my epic drama journey.


From Joseph to youth theatre to panto to studying musical theatre to a drama degree to working all over the place teaching drama to coaching kids to be in shows just like that to setting up a theatre school to working in schools all over the country to the Education Scotland Drama National Working Group to being a teacher trainer and spreading the love of drama to writing this blog. That's what I have grown so far from my seed.


Every time I am in a school I sprinkle some seeds and wonder who will grow theirs and what it will grow into.


It all starts from a wee seed from somehere.



Go go go Joseph.




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