Hello all, my name is Lauren Mayhew, and I’m Head of Drama, Gifted and Talented coordinator and MIE Expert at Dubai British School. I’ve been teaching for ten years in the UK and abroad and, over that time, have discovered the power of technology in the classroom and how, as educators, we can develop these resources for subject-specific ideas. Recently, I was able to do just that with Immersive Reader in my Drama class.
Fortunately, my school is an innovative and forward-thinking establishment that believes in putting teachers’ expertise at the forefront of student progress and achievement. From the first day I joined the school, I knew I’d have the chance to reshape the new Drama curriculum through technology.
I started thinking about the GCSE and A-level students I teach and realized that, even though Drama is seen as a practical subject, it is based on a theoretical understanding of scripts and texts. Because my school encourages its teachers to reimagine how to instruct their courses to appeal to all learning styles, I began to strategize how I could adapt technology to make my teaching methodologies more accessible.
One of my students had a Special Education Need (SEN) and struggled with the reading in my GCSE course. I asked her how I could better support her efforts to retain information, and she expressed feeling overwhelmed by trying to learn a script for an entire performance. I set to work exploring how I could help alleviate that fear.
As an MIE expert, I’ve used new apps and resources to develop students’ learning with new methodologies. I had used Microsoft Teams in the past to develop collaborative learning for assignments, but I had yet to fully explore Immersive Reader. Here was a perfect opportunity to use this valuable resource in an innovative way: I was asking students to learn entire scripts for one of their GCSE components on a tight timeline, but I needed to further break down the task. And Immersive Reader was just the tool to help students learn their scripts for their practical unit and take the pressure off.
So, if my student was having trouble understanding the basic narrative structure of the script, how could she develop her character? I had her type up her script so that OneNote’s Immersive Reader could read not only her character’s lines but the other characters’ parts, as well. Now, while she was practicing at home, she could develop a better understanding of her own lines and the narrative structure as a whole by using Immersive Reader to rehearse the dialog at her own pace.
Immersive Reader also allowed her to highlight parts of the script where she was struggling, which helped her define and breakdown sections that were giving her trouble to come back to later. This encouraged independent learning and provided a clear path for progression. Thanks to these features and her own persistence, she began to feel in control over her own success. Immersive Reader became an everyday tool in and out of lessons for not only this student but for the entire class.
This led to the next step in my Immersive Reader journey. I decided to try and use it for an entire class to see how it could impact their learning. I wanted the students to develop their own original scripts and, having seen this process work so well for memorizing lines, Immersive Reader became a method for students to edit their work and track if the narrative followed their original idea and theme. This allowed for a more thoughtful redrafting process, especially when the points they wanted their character to get across weren’t translating. The process of redrafting became less scary and more of an opportunity for development.
Every educator faces diverse challenges every day in the classroom, but my hope is that my students can drive their own success. They should feel empowered to challenge themselves beyond the classroom by fully utilizing the support they are offered. Teaching is not a career for me, it’s a lifestyle. I believe that being a reflective practitioner has allowed me to consistently evaluate my own learning and, after ten years of teaching, I am still finding new ways of delivering topics and units of study within my own classroom to ensure that I’m able to offer the best opportunities possible to all of my students. Immersive Reader is just the beginning—who knows where it might take me next!