Grade 10 students at Qatar Foundation school, Qatar Academy for Science and Technology (QAST), have enhanced their learning through the power of creativity, by participating in a-first-of-its-kind theatrical school play experience at QAST, led by their Arabic language teacher.
The drama, titled A Dream of a Lifetime, was designed to develop students’ Arabic language skills through a creative activity. The students took centre stage in all aspects of creating the play, from writing the script to stage preparation and management, acting, and directing, all under the supervision and support of their teacher.
“The early vision of this activity had clear goals: to enable the students to create and enjoy the experience of learning Arabic in a more dynamic and pragmatic way, instead of relying on traditional methods that might quickly lead them to feel bored or static,” said Zayed Qasim, Arabic language and Islamic Studies teacher at QAST, part of Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education.
“We held brainstorming sessions and students were eager to bring the language from text to life. Every student was involved in a practical experience, which enabled them to practice and get a better sense and feel of the language, including scriptwriting – which is pivotal in enriching the imagination – practicing correct pronunciation and articulation, in addition to handling the technology and engineering for stage preparation, controlling the lights, and creating sound effects for the play.”
For the students, the theatre experience added another dimension as well as language learning.
"It was a special experience for me," said Nader Hamed, a Grade 10 student at QAST, an author and actor in the school play. “I enjoyed all the stages of its implementation, from writing the script to recording, acting, and stage management.”
“Before this project, I did not really have the confidence and courage when it came to acting and speaking in front of audience, and this activity helped me overcome stage anxiety and the fear of speaking publicly. It improved my ability to memorise, thanks to the constant practice and the rehearsals, which trained me on memorising the lines without the need to read the script every time, it also helped me to express the meanings and feelings of the words.”
The play was just the latest creative and innovative method used by QAST to support the learning of Arabic, with the school’s students having also participated in activities such as a shadow puppets theatre, producing short awareness videos in Arabic with 2D graphic designing programmes, in addition to making films and utilising visual and sound effects to create backdrop scenes. They have also developed news broadcasts that simulate the real-life news on TV, and that help them practice and master the language.
In addition to these activities, Qasim, who holds a Master’s degree in Islamic studies, Master of Computer Science, and a Diploma in 21st Century learning skills from the State University Of New York, along with his major in Arabic language emphasised the importance of letting students’ imagination run free, He involved students from all classes in a creative storytelling activity, allowing them to choose an image from among dozens of pictures selected by the teacher, and write a short story from their imagination about that image.
“I was so impressed by the passion and the tremendous response from the students in terms of writing stories, which highlights the importance of providing opportunities and giving students the freedom and space to imagine and express, which can reveal their true talents,” said Qasim.
“Now we have a book consisting of about 35 short stories written by students from all stages. We have reviewed and compiled all the stories into a reference book which students who attend QAST in the future, and those from other schools, can benefit from. We also asked the older students to apply their own analysis and criticism to the stories and share it with their colleagues in order to widen and expand the scope of the educational experience.
"The activities that we carried out have received great encouragement from parents, as they have noticed their children’s increasing interest in Arabic language and the rapid progress in their performance, and they have demonstrated their constant support in parents' meetings and communications with the school.
“Teaching methods that utilise creativity for learning are being exchanged between teachers of all subjects to activate such ideology across QAST. This aligns with our project-based learning approach, and with the teachers’ belief in the importance of developing innovative, resilient methodologies and maximising the opportunity provided by Covid-19 to push the concept of education towards more dynamic models that can keep pace with our current world.”
The promotional video of the play produced by QAST students can be viewed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1QQxA6QDFbKtxzH2oGDgdJqenNq9Hmyjn/view?usp=sharing