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The Song Room at Queensland Conferences

On March 16 and 18 2013, The Song Rooms Regional Program Coordinator in QLD, Belinda Berrington presented at two conferences in Brisbane and the Gold Coast looking at the impact of Song Room drama programs in special schools.

Belinda has also been working as a Song Room Teaching Artist at Mt Ommaney Special School since 2009, using drama as a way to engage students with complex and multiple special needs. The impact of the program had a wide and far reaching effect on both students and teachers and as a result the partnership between Mt Ommaney and The Song Room was awarded a NAB Schools First Award in 2011.

Belinda is currently running a Song Room program at the Early Learning Centre at Mt Ommaney and was invited to present at the annual Early Childhood Intervention Australia Conference where she presented a practical, hands on workshop focused on drama activities to use in the classroom. The workshop aimed to help teachers connect with their own creativity and provide skills and ideas about how to plan, implement and enjoy drama, music and dance for early years needs students.

This session was interactive with all of the participants being given an opportunity to experience drama activities to explore their own creative potential. Belinda looked at the benefits of using drama in an early years setting and in particular with special needs students. She took participants through lesson planning for this setting, including looking at resources and links to key learning areas. Participants were able to brainstorm their own lesson plan ideas in small groups using picture books as a pretext.

The feedback for this session was extremely positive, with participants commenting on the relevant and accessible information presented.

Belinda and two teachers from Mt Ommaney Special School were also invited to present at ACER’s Excellence in Professional Practice Conference. This conference celebrates excellence in teachers’ professional practice by drawing together teachers from across Australia to share expertise and learn from one another.

The 2013 theme Teaching the Australian Curriculum: Excellence and Innovation in the Classroom was designed to showcase best practice from experienced classroom teachers.

This presentation focused on The Song Room program at Mt Ommaney Special School and the impact it has had not only on the students but also the teachers and their confidence in planning and delivering an arts program. They also articulated why drama works as pedagogy and the links to curriculum.

There was a great interest from the participants with all teachers commenting about how inspiring the project was. The Associate Dean of Flinders University in Adelaide said it was as inspiring as the opening keynote of the conference! She also went straight out at the end the presentation and told others who then came in for information and expressing regret that they missed it!

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