ICER: A model for making Drama

ICER is an acronym that I’ve been using with my Key Stage 3 students for some time now and as I’m working with Key Stage 3 again next year it is time to get it back out of the cupboard! It is a simple but effective method of keeping the lesson focused, with a good pace and allows you to have mini-plenaries at the end of every phase in case you need one for any reason!

ICER stands for Ideas, Create, Evaluate and Rehearse.

The ideas phase might last between 5 and 10 minutes and is the time for students to sit down and talk about their ideas, write them down if necessary, the more ideas the students have the better. A wiser man than me once said that the first idea a student has is always really basic, the second is the development of that but still not very well planned, the third or fourth idea from that are always the best ones. So I always encourage them to talk and discuss their ideas to the fullest. As a consequence, they are not allowed to stand up during the Ideas phase, but they have to remain seated at talk.

The obvious mini-plenary for this is a sharing of ideas or writing down some targets to achieve in the rest of the lesson.

The creating phase is the most manic and lasts at least 10, probably more depending on what you have the students working on. In this phase the students must have the whole performance completed but not to performance standard. One problem I’ve often noticed with students is that the opening section of the play will be brilliantly, even over rehearsed but the end will be rubbish and under-rehearsed. Making the students make the whole performance in one go helps them maintain focus on the big picture and not just on the section that they are working on.

The obvious mini-plenary for this is to share the work so far with the rest of the group, which could facilitate the next phase to be done as a class or in the students groups.

With the performance as a whole complete, students now evaluate their work in terms of the assessment criteria you are working with. Students must decide whether they need to adapt, change, develop or improve their work accordingly. They could receive peer feedback to help this as part of a sharing or self assess their work. They will need to establish some targets for improvement.

Finally in the rehearsal phase, the students work to develop their performance from the unpolished piece they’ve just created into something that they feel fits the assessment criteria to the best.

I’ve used this with my Key Stage 3 students for some years now as it provides structure to their lesson and gives me opportunities to make sure everyone is working at the same pace, I can identify and intervene with groups who aren’t working quickly and it provides opportunities to add AfL activities. It works very well at Key Stage 3 because we also tend to do one performance one lesson style of work. It doesn’t work so well over a series of lessons, although you can use it to create different scenes within a performance rather than a complete performance. From experience, Key Stage 4 students prefer that flexibility to work at their own pace.

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