Stacie Perez

It is no secret that this past year has brought on innumerable challenges, but for many, it has also been an opportunity of incredible growth. Orlando Family Stage is definitely one that hasn’t slowed down since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, in fact, its Education Department used this time to focus even more of its energy into developing new programming and professional development training within the Engaged Learning through the Arts (ELTA) professional development program. This unique time of change and reflection has allowed Orlando Family Stage to dive deeper and rethink many of the ways it has approached both its programming and partnerships in the community. One of Orlando REP’s hopes is to continue providing professional development opportunities for dual language teachers in Orange County Public Schools (OCPS). 

With the hopes of returning to classrooms to introduce this new work soon, Orlando Family Stage was honored to be awarded a grant from the Martin Andersen – Gracia Andersen Foundation to continue providing these professional development opportunities to dual language Pre-K teachers in Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) during spring of 2021. This updated model consists of residencies and workshops built around newly designed Story Drama lessons focusing on two of the four different types of drama strategies offered within Orlando REP’s Story Drama program, which included: pantomime and teacher-in-role. 

Ruth Garcia from Chickasaw Elementary engages her students through the use of teacher-in-role. This strategy allows teachers to become different characters that present a problem to students, thus making the students experts on giving advice and problem solving.
Sheralyn Casablanca at Shingle Creek Elementary leads her students through the exercise of transforming into different characters while using specificity of language and side coaching to help students transition into the imaginary world of drama.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, one of the classes had to be facilitated online. Here is Karen Marulanda, a REP teaching artist, facilitating Story Drama in Spanish online.
Ada Carballo from Little River Elementary engages and leads students using narrative pantomime.

Right before the pandemic in March of 2020, Orlando Family Stage had just ended a four-year program in partnership with OCPS, Arizona State University, and Childsplay Theatre that included training dual language Pre-K teachers through the use of drama strategies within Story Drama to help enhance pre-literacy skills in both English and Spanish. Aside from being a professional development opportunity for these teachers, it was also a longitudinal study that provided fascinating information about the impact of drama in the language learning process. This impact of that work sparked a special interest in Orlando Family Stage to continue working with dual language learners and teachers in the community. 

Since it has been over a year since Orlando Family Stage had worked in these classrooms, the strategies and lessons were carefully chosen as a way to ease back into using drama in the classroom. Training on the new elements and structures of these lessons requires time for process and learning, however, both the teachers and students caught on very quickly and classrooms were soon immersed in the joy of in-person drama lessons once again! 


See what participating teachers have to share about their experience with Story Drama in their dual language classrooms: 

“Before I was in the program, story time was not my favorite time of the day. Now I read like three books a day and do drama several times a month. I love the program because it made me confident in that area that I needed help on.”

Wanda Roman, Ventura Elementary 

“I really enjoyed and learned from the Dual Language residency. It is a great tool for students to acquire vocabulary words, concepts and to develop strategies to get a better understanding of a story. It is amazing to see students acquiring vocabulary words in English and Spanish.”

Ada Carballo, Little River Elementary

“Drama is a powerful teaching method that can help enhance student vocabulary proficiency and support literacy development. Drama strategies help children explore and learn in a different way. Drama helps to bring the lesson to life and encourages children to think critically and express their thoughts and feelings in a fun and engaging way.”

Ruth Garcia, Chickasaw Elementary


Interested in learning more about Orlando REP’s Story Drama program? Click HERE for more information or email us at [email protected] to learn about how you can use Story Drama in your classroom today! 


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