Department of Theatre and Dance Program Receives $100,000 Grant

Drama for Schools, an outreach program by The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance, is the recipient of a 2011-12 Longhorn Innovation Fund for Technology (LIFT) award.

The Research and Educational Technology Committee gives LIFT awards to innovative academic technology projects that leverage information technology to improve instruction quality, create a differentiator for attracting higher caliber students to the university, or result in a competitive advantage to the university in attracting sponsored research.

The $100,000 grant will allow Drama for Schools to give K-12 teachers instructional videos in drama-based instruction and use social networking to build and disseminate resources, among other things.

Drama-based instruction is an umbrella term for a collection of teaching tools used in conjunction with classroom curriculum, including interactive games, improvisation and role-playing. With LIFT funding, Drama for Schools is positioned to become a state and national resource for innovative arts integration instruction for pre-service and in-service educators.

"The LIFT award enables our program to create a dynamic technology-based resource in drama-based instruction for educators across Texas and the U.S.," said Katie Dawson, Drama for Schools director and lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Dance. "The videos and related crowd-sourcing effort will expand our ability to support teachers' shift toward job-embedded practice in an innovative, research-based instructional approach."

An extension of the university's Arts in Communities programming, Drama for Schools uses instructional strategies to make a sustainable difference in the learning culture of a classroom, school and school district. The program allows theater faculty and graduate students to train teachers to use a range of creative drama techniques that can be adapted to a variety of content areas and contexts, instead of one strategy for a specific lesson plan. In addition, these techniques support a variety of learning styles that keep students actively engaged in the learning process.

The university has ongoing Drama for Schools partnerships with school districts across the nation, from McAllen,Texas to Galena, Alaska.