Debra Bertulis
Debra Bertulis

All About Debra Bertulis

Debra works as a Peripatetic Speech and Drama teacher, and is pleased to place today’s National Curriculum requirement for Speaking and Listening Skills at the heart of everything she does.

Pupils are offered stimulating drama and poetry workshops. Debra also prepares pupils for participation at Festivals and offers tuition in LAMDA Examinations. She has teaching experience in both the Independent and State sector as well as with pupils for whom English is a second language in her work at an International College.

Debra is also a published children’s poet and staged playwright and is currently working on her first novel for middle grade children. Her writing background means she is also able to offer imagination stretching poetry and story workshops, to encourage and inspire pupils to produce their own work.

Having always had a passion for the written and spoken word, Debra sees her role as inspiring children to cultivate the same. The emphasis is on enabling pupils, as she asks open ended questions in order to encourage pupils to think for themselves and ‘light that spark!’ The pupils are the main contributors in Debra’s workshops!

She is happy to work with key stage 1-3 as well as the Able and Reluctant Writers Workshops. In view of increased emphasis on poetry and performance in the new curriculum, she is also able to tailor lessons and activities to complement the school’s requirements. Flexibility is another of Debra’s strengths!

She is based in Herefordshire where she lives with her twin daughters and husband Martin.

Debra’s School visits

Speaking and Listening

Speaking and listening continues to be an essential requirement of the National Curriculum. It is also a natural thread which runs through all of Debra’s workshops. Turn taking, learning to listen to others, sharing ideas and being encouraged to speak with clarity to a group form the basis of every workshop. Schools can be assured that whichever workshop they choose, Speaking and Listening will be a vital component throughout.

Following on from this, Debra has devised a new workshop to benefit pupils for whom English is not their first language:

English Speaking Skills

An additional pressure for some teachers is how to integrate pupils for whom English is a second language. In Debra’s experience, some pupils may struggle to learn the basics of everyday speech and instruction. They may hang back and fall behind in progress, continually hindered by their lack of speaking skills.

Taking pupils in small groups, and working with the medium of basic conversation, Debra works with children to help build self-confidence. By the end of the workshops, pupils will have acquired a better understanding of every day speech, feel happier and more confident and able to become more involved in class. The sessions are fun and interactive and can be tailored in conjunction with teacher consultation.

A series of workshops is recommended for this group of pupils to achieve the maximum benefit.

An Example of Typical Workshops:

Key Stage 1

Story Interpretation/Magic Bag

The Magic Bag is always hugely popular with younger pupils. A magical, mysterious bag of objects has appeared in the classroom. Children feel in the bag and take it in turns to describe what the things inside feel like and guess what it might be.

Each group suggests ideas on how the objects can be used in a story. The emphasis is on using imaginations to the full. Each groups build a short story based on their ideas and act it out. This involves teamwork and collaboration as they consult on who will play which character!

Pupils will be made aware of the importance of structuring a beginning, middle and end. At the end, pupils will learn about interpretation, teamwork, the importance of sharing ideas and will have gained increased confidence through a short structured performance.

Build a Poem

We decide on a theme then collect associating words around the theme, in order to build a poem. Pupils are constantly involved in the process and the ideas come from them, using connective words and colourful and descriptive language. Pupils will have explored ideas and words and learnt how to fit them into a story in order to shape a poem.

Lift The Words Off The Page

We read through a poem chosen by myself and decide how the words can be brought to life. What does expression mean, why is it so important and how can we use our voices and faces to help us do this?

Pupils will learn the importance of lifting words off the page in order to tell a story and convey meaning. They will learn how we can use ourselves in a fun way to do this.

Imagination Stretching Workshops (Example of)

Pupils are encouraged to let their imaginations run wild! Pupils are split into groups. Each group has a card with the name of an animal/place/person. Working within their group, pupils come up with words in order to create a character/atmosphere including types of behaviour, appearance, sounds and smell! Using a flipchart, we then construct a whole class story.

Pupils will have used their imaginations to construct a story and used their knowledge of the senses to develop their descriptive skills.

Class Books

Debra is often asked to work with younger pupils on a particular book being studied in class, such as Dick King Smith stories or The Gruffalo.

Fun and interactive workshops are made relevant by the use of drama. This involves interpreting the descriptive language the author has used and acting out the characters from the book!

The aim of this workshop is for pupils to reinforce a greater understanding of the story by way of interpretation and sequence of events by using their own imaginations.

Work In The School Hall

Debra can take groups of a maximum of 20 children into the school hall for a variety of energetic and stimulating drama games.

Key Stage 2/3

From The Page to The Stage

Pupils are helped to compose their own poems or story with various first lines to stimulate imaginations such as “When I went to…..” Or “I wish I was a……” with a lot of support as I move around the groups. Pupils are encouraged to be brave with their ideas!

We will then talk about how to bring their words to life. Pupils will perform their own work in front of the class. Reluctant performers work will be read by myself.

By the end, pupils will have composed a short poem, learnt how using our imaginations can create a poem and how to bring words to life with effective use of modulation.

Poetry Recital and Performance

With increasing amount of emphasis being placed upon speaking and listening and the art of poetry recital and performance in the curriculum, this workshop will start at the very beginning. Pupils will learn the secrets of how to memorise a poem, how to bring the words to life with modulation and the importance of engaging with an audience.

It may be a poem the class is working on as part of the curriculum or contrasting poems chosen by myself.

By the end, pupils will have gained confidence in their performance abilities, improved memory and literacy skills and will be all set to perform in your next assembly!

Headline News

Pupils are helped to create their own headline, using themselves/family or their school/neighbourhood as the subject!

What has happened to them and why on earth are they headlining the television news?

Headlines are read out in classic newsreader style as pupils sit inside my fun makeshift television!

Pupils will have explored a different genre of writing and speaking, developed presentation skills and confidence.

Key Stage 3

From The Page to The Stage, Poetry Recital and Performance Workshops are both suitable for all key stages.

Bringing Prose to Life

We look at various pieces of prose and how best to read them aloud. This could be a text the pupils are working with in class or a text brought in by me.

Pupils will have learned the skills required for effective expression for performance. These include clear understanding of the key messages from the text, use of eye contact and modulation.

Again, I am keen to work with the school curriculum and schemes of work to reinforce learning, so teachers please get in touch! If you have an assembly or performance planned, use me!

Flash Drama!

Pupils are encouraged to construct a story based on a title within groups of 3/4.

They are given several ideas which aren’t compulsory.

The telephone call, The Visitor, The Accident etc.

Pupils perform their improvisation to the class, based on their joint ideas.

The catch to this is that there is a time limit of only 5 minutes consultation time!

Pupils will have collaborated to produce a short piece of drama. They will develop teamwork and cooperation as well as having the opportunity to think on their feet.

Presentation Skills-X Factor!

This workshop will examine how we present ourselves. Pupils compose a short informative piece about themselves and present it to the class. We will also examine the skills of modulation, the importance of how we dress and present our physical selves in order to give a good impression and performance.

To Make a Booking

To make an enquiry about Debra Bertulis, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at trevor@caboodlebooks.co.uk