THE ARTS: DRAMA ECHO MIME A TEACHING STRATEGY
Professional Standard 2
Know the content and how to teach it.
2.1.2 Apply knowledge of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area to develop engaging teaching activities.
Reading + response time 30min
The Teaching Strategy
An echo mime is a simple dramatised retelling of a story. It draws upon short phrases and movements to sequence together the key moments of a story. To enliven RE or literacy, this teaching strategy can be applied when exploring almost any narrative. In RE, the echo mime can be an engaging way to explore the narrative-scriptures.
As the name ‘echo mime’ suggests, this drama strategy utilises a ‘follow the leader’ approach. This guided method helps to maximise participation in the dramatisation through the explicit modelling of gesture, position, movement, facial expressions and use of voice. Furthermore, its simple form lends itself to improvisation and whole class creating/construction.
While this strategy can be useful in upper primary, especially as an entry experience, the simplicity and instructional nature of the echo mime makes it ideal for early learners and Foundation to Year 2 students. As such, this strategy supports learning experiences associated with following Foundations to Year 2 Content Descriptions from the Australian Curriculum:
Explore role and dramatic action in dramatic play, improvisation and process drama - ACADRM027
Use voice, facial expression, movement and space to imagine and establish role and situation - ACADRM028
Present drama that communicates ideas, including stories from their community, to an audience - ACADRM029
As you continue reading be mindful of the ways in which the echo mime strategy meets the above noted learning outcomes. At this point you may like to refer to your own state's drama curriculum to cross reference outcomes.
Creating an echo mime requires only a little creativity and imagination - which is quite encouraging for the nervous drama teacher. A good place to start is with a story map.
After reading a narrative-scripture, try mapping the story from beginning to end focussing on the key parts only. The story map can be visual or written. When starting out try not to have too many lines, about seven works well. However, the length of the scripture and the number of key parts to the story will be a factor. A long scripture may require more lines, while a shorter scripture - less. Either way use the narrative structure to help - beginning, middle, end. OR Orientation, sequence of events/complication, resolution.
Now for each part of the story come up with a short phrase to describe the action taking place. Similarly, create an action/movement/gesture to capture the action.
Once each part of the story has been allocated words and actions, begin the echo mime dramatisation. As the teacher, model each part of the story, and prompt students to copy or ‘echo’ you after each phrase/gesture.
Work your way through the story beginning to end.
Some Useful Tips:
Use a story map template from the internet or blackline master as would be used to support story writing. Here's one to get you started - story map template
RE textbooks may have illustrations. A great resource to help piece together a story. Similarly, the words from the text book might help with making phrases.
Consider keeping a consistent rhythm to each phrase so the retelling flows and doesn’t become clunky.
To help build fluency consider repeating each phrase a few times over before going for a one to one copy of the dramatisation
Once students become experienced with the echo mime try rotating different leaders
Once students become competent with the process have them work in small groups for future echo mime activities.
Use this learning experience as an assessment task to assess familiarity with the Scripture story.
Present this dramatisation at an assembly or children’s liturgy and consider it part of the performance outcomes for drama.
An Example Echo Mime Script:
The example script below is based on John 21:1-14 and has been adapted from the song Disciples Gone Fishing by Timothy Hart. For each line, the teacher/leader speaks each phrase as they mime an accompanying action. Use appropriate voice and facial expressions. Students then copy the modelled drama one line at a time.
Disciples Gone Fishing (Based on John 21:1-14)
1. “Disciples gone fishing.”
Reach hands forward and pull back as if to row a boat.
2. “Throw the nets over.”
Reach down and then throw hands forward as if to cast out a net.
3. “Disciples caught nothing.”
Open empty hands and make a sad face.
4. “Along came Jesus.”
Walk on the spot.
5. “He said, ‘throw the nets over’”
Reach down and then throw hands forward as if to cast out a net.
6. “They caught so many.”
Reach forward and heave back as if pulling in a heavy load.
7. “The disciples believed Jesus had risen.”
Raise hands up in praise.
The process outlined above integrates with the general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum: Critical and creative thinking & Literacy
Take some time to read through your state’s Arts Curriculum and identify similar outcomes/content descriptors to those named in the Australian Curriculum. What content and outcomes might the echo mime address? How might these be integrated into your teaching program?
Look ahead in your RE units for narrative-scriptures that might lend themselves to the echo mime teaching-learning strategy. Consider including this as a teaching strategy to enliven the RE classroom.
OPTIONAL TASK - GETTING CREATIVE
Create an echo mime for a suitable narrative-scripture to use as part of your own RE lesson. You could create this as a class OR make one of your own and prepare it in advance.
Share your results with the ButterflyHouse community.
ButterflyHouse has some echo mimes to get you started. Walking to the Tomb. Based on the women at the empty tomb.
Disciples Gone Fishing. Based on Jesus appears to the disciples
For extra engagement, these echo mimes are set to music and as such become call & response songs as well - more on this in another blog. For now, take some time to view the clips. In your own quiet space, upskill and practice by following along to build your confidence before leading your class.
Example Echo Mime Presentation: The Baptism of Jesus - Echo Mime presented by Flame of Faith Archdiocese of Brisbane
This article is brought to you by butterflyhouse.online and presented by
Timothy Hart is a Catholic Educator from the Diocese of Wollongong, specialising in Religious Education, Spiritual Formation, and Pastoral Music. Contributing widely to ministry throughout his career, some of Tim’s familiar works include Pray School and the ACYF 2017 Theme Song “Joyful Generation”. As a Butterfly Music member-publisher Tim’s resources are available through www.butterflyhouse.online
Inspiring thanks & praise,
joy & hope, through creative ministry.