View all Standards for California VAPA Standards (2001)

2.2 Creation/Invention in Theatre - Write dialogues and scenes, applying basic dramatic structure: exposition, complication, conflict, crises, climax, and resolution.

UNIT

What is Theatre?

by Karen Loftus

Students will explore the question “what is theatre?” and analyze it by comparing film and television productions. Each session comes with an journal prompt, a warm up game, and an exit slip for assessment. This is a great unit to start off a school year.

Feel free to customize it as much as you want, and refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials. While you’re analyzing “what is theatre?” with your students, you can introduce classroom procedures and do icebreaker/trust games. You can also remind the kids that Theatre is Ensemble - all of the games they play help to build ensemble.

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UNIT

Pantomime

by Karen Loftus

Students will explore nonverbal communication through movement, body language, simple mime, and storytelling. They will learn the specific art of pantomime through hand position, tension, follow-through, and action/reaction/interaction with objects through warmup games and exercises.

The unit culminates in a two-person pantomime performance. A rubric is included for the performance as long as journal prompts and exit slips. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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UNIT

Ancient Greek Theatre

by Karen Loftus

This unit on Ancient Greek Theatre focuses on the function of the chorus, the choral ode, and the details of the theatre space. It touches on plays and playwrights of the era, culminating in a final project of a modern version of Medea that includes a choral ode.

A rubric is included for the project as long as journal prompts and exit slips. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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UNIT

Improvisation

by Karen Loftus

Students sharpen their listening and reaction skills through improv games, exercises, and scenes. They will learn 5 specific guidelines to apply to their improvisation: accept the offer, bring information to the scene, make active choices, make your partner look good, and don’t force the humour.

There are so many different ways to approach a unit on improvisation. Keep in mind that you will have students who are really excited about this unit and some students who dread it. It’s best to start with low risk games and exercises and then build up to higher risk ones. Low risk games in this situation mean partnered interactions that aren’t shared with the whole class. Teachers can also refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

The unit culminates in a short improv performance. A rubric is included for the performance as long as journal prompts and exit slips.

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UNIT

Commedia Dell'Arte

by Karen Loftus

Students are introduced to, analyze, and explore the history, characters, and style of Commedia dell’arte. Commedia Dell’Arte is a theatre history unit mixed with improvisation, physicalization, and exploring specific characters.

In this unit, we’re going to focus on three main aspects:
(1) Causes and Effects of Commedia (History), (2) Stock Characters, (3) Commedia Performance Practices.

The unit culminates in a commedia performance. A rubric is included for the project as long as journal prompts and exit slips. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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UNIT

Playwriting

by Karen Loftus

Students will explore the structural elements of a play: character, objective, obstacles, tactics, resolution, and raising the stakes. They will also learn how to write character-driven dialogue and stage directions.

The unit culminates in a group written original play which is performed in front of the class. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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UNIT

Japanese Theatre

by Karen Loftus

This unit will enable students to identify, compare, and contrast three different styles of Japanese Theatre: Noh, Bunraku, and Kabuki. There are three proposed projects in this unit: a research assignment where groups delve into further detail about one of the three styles; a performance project where students utilize what they’ve learned by enacting a scene from a Kyogen (comedic) play; and a Bunraku puppet play.

The unit comes with a Google Slide Deck to help students visualize the information. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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UNIT

Drama One Final Project

by Karen Loftus

The final project will incorporate multiple areas that students have studied over the course of the year/semester: playwriting, acting, scenic design, and marketing. They’ll take what they’ve learned and create a 5-minute play with a monologue that they’ll perform. They’ll also describe the overall design of the show and create a ground plan and rendering for their design.

Finally, they’ll market their show by creating a poster and a press release. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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UNIT

Monologue Writing Made Easy

by Matthew Banaszynski

Join Matt Banaszynski in this dynamic unit designed to introduce students to the process of starting, drafting, polishing, and performing a self-created, stand-alone monologue.

Students will learn the steps involved in going from a simple idea to a full monologue, using the Story Mountain framework. They will also provide feedback, self-critiques, and teacher feedback during the process.

This is a great way for students to get creative and engaged in a genre that is meaningful to them, and can be customized to the needs of your classroom.

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UNIT

Voice

by Anna Porter

The voice is a key element in performance and can be used in many ways. In this introductory voice unit with instructor Anna Porter, students will explore how to thoughtfully communicate character, story and emotion vocally.

Lesson one focuses on the articulators and the importance and of speaking clearly on stage. Lesson two introduces students to the use of vocal variety with pitch, tone, rate and volume. In lesson three, students develop a character with background as well as design a puppet. Lesson four brings together the elements of voice studied in this unit to create vocal characterization.

Through this four lesson series, students will use journals, participate in class discussions and practice the elements taught by performing for their peers and as a class. Assessment tools include both informal assessment as well as a final puppet show performance.

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UNIT

Puppetry

by Jenny Goodfellow

This unit on Puppetry is designed for middle school and up, to introduce students to the material and get them comfortable with performing in a safe and low exposure environment.

This is a unit that builds to a culminating experience for your students. Each lesson is designed to explore techniques, provide opportunities for creative collaboration among your students, and give them opportunities to perform. Some of the lessons require materials to build or create puppets. Puppetry can be as easy as drawing a face on your finger for finger puppets, to actually purchasing your own finger puppets for students to use.

While the focus of this unit is puppetry, your students will explore other skills as well. There’s the obvious ones of creative thinking, teamwork, and problem solving. They are also going to explore storytelling, performing skills, and playwriting.

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UNIT

Theatre of the Absurd

by Lea Marshall

WARNING: This unit is ABSURD. However, instructor Lea Marshall decided to do something really ABSURD with the unit, which was make it a bit more predictable. First, the unit takes two lessons to go over the Historical and Philosophical background of Theatre of the Absurd. It starts with just a visual exercise to really bring students into the emotional bleakness of the landscape and then group work to look at some of the other foundational elements that will drive the Absurdist movement into the Theatres.

Next, students break down absurd scripts into some “recognizable” elements of language, plot structure, acting choices, and storyline. With each lesson that introduces an Absurdist Element, there is an opportunity for students to “play” with the element. Then, students explore the element through an Absurdist text. This will help familiarize the students with the 4 Absurdist scripts used in the unit. These bite sized forays into the scripts will help students to choose a script to fully immerse themselves in for the final project.

As a final project, students will choose one script to work with, and choose the format of their project (performance, costume or set design, or playwright).

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UNIT

Devising

by Corinna Rezzelle

In this unit, students will work with their peers through a series of exercises and activities designed to lead them through the process of creating, writing, rehearsing, and performing a new, original script.

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UNIT

Character Analysis

by Matt Webster

The Drama Two Curriculum has been developed to expand and deepen the students’ skills as actors. In this unit, students will use open scenes to generate characters and scenarios. They will then explore the ideas of “objective,” “tactics,” and “status.” The unit culminates with students applying learned character analysis techniques to classroom generated open scenes.

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UNIT

Devising

by Corinna Rezzelle

What is devising? It’s a process of playwriting as a group. Plays are created through improvisation, process dramas, and a lot of teamwork. The Devising Unit includes an overview to get you started, and 12 lessons jam-packed with activities.

This unit includes doing some basic Forum Theatre, which is a technique coined by Augusto Boal. It covers Process Drama in a variety of ways such as Hot Seating, Role on the Wall, and a fun exercise called “Character Bag”. There are also some great bonding games for your students to enjoy.

This unit is designed to show students (and teachers) that playwriting doesn’t have to be a solitary, lonely exercise. It can be a fun, sometimes chaotic, and very energetic experience.

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UNIT

Commedia dell'Arte

by Todd Espeland

Commedia dell’arte is a 16th century masked acting form. It is the basis of all comedy, including all tv sitcoms. This form is characterized by masked types and archetypical characters and a specific way of playing comedy. To that end, this unit is divided into two parts.

Part One focuses on the foundations of commedia - playing comedy. These principles will be important to learn when it comes to developing commedia characters, specifically the physicality of the characters. Part Two will cover lazzi.

Note: there are links to video demos in many of the lessons of this unit.

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UNIT

Playwriting Unit: 10 to 15 Minute Play

by Lindsay Price

This playwriting unit offers lessons for students to complete a 10- to 15-minute play, instructed by professional playwright Lindsay Price.

The unit includes class writing time as well as students writing on their own; in setting it up this way, the unit can be interspersed between other lessons.

Students are challenged to apply themselves to write on their own - as all writers must do. Class time also focuses on giving and receiving feedback.

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UNIT

Playwriting Unit: Beginner

by Lindsay Price

This unit provides an introduction to the process of playwriting in a practical step-by-step framework. Playwriting can be a practical task-driven process that any student can accomplish, given the right parameters. This playwriting unit will give students the tools they need to write their first short play and gain the confidence they need to write further. The culminating project for this unit is a three- to five-page play or extended scene.

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UNIT

The Working Playwright *Hyperdoc

by Lindsay Price

In this unit, students will gain insight into the day to day responsibilities of a working artist. This unit aims to illuminate for students that creative expression is only one element in a sustainable arts career, and attempt to address the essential question: How does a playwright turn creative expression into a career? The culminating project for the unit is a playwright submissions packet for a theatre company.

This unit is delivered in hyperdoc format. What does that mean? A hyperdoc is an interactive tool that encourages digital learning. In this case, students are given a document on a subject, and there they can read articles, watch videos, do some independent research, and apply what they’ve learned. Because they’re working on their own, students are in charge of their own pacing.

Before you start the unit, ensure you read the Teacher Guide first. It will give you clear instructions on how to distribute the hyperdoc format and make it easy for you and your students.

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UNIT

Creating Your Own Musical

by Laramie Dean

Instructor Laramie Dean uses this unit as the final project for his Drama 2 students. Drawing upon any of the skills students have developed throughout they create a product that could be used within a new piece of musical theatre.

Students start by analyzing three musicals, study guides included, and practice creating musical elements. They are then giving class time to prepare in groups as many elements as their can for a new musical using devised theatre techniques.

There are 24 lessons in this unit which culminates in a final assessed performance.

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UNIT

Unit Five: Intro to Script Writing

by Lindsay Johnson

In this unit, students learn how to write their own scripts using correct formatting. These scripts will be more detailed than the contentless scenes. Students will learn how to write dialogue that provide information about relationships, conflicting objectives, and setting.

They’ll also learn how to correctly add expression and movement directions into the script itself. The unit will end with a partner script writing assignment which is performed in front of the class.

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UNIT

Unit Eight: Theatre of the Oppressed

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will have a chance to merge their understanding of scene elements with their improvisation skills in this final unit based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. Theatre of the Oppressed is a style of theatre specifically created to highlight the injustices of power and oppression in society and to problem-solve ways to bring about change.

Starting with image theatre techniques to identify issues of power and oppression, students will then use forum theatre to create scenarios of oppression taken from their own lives and improvise realistic solutions.

The unit culminates in a performance in which students participate as both actors in a scene they create themselves and spect-actors in scenes created by their peers.

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UNIT

Our Town Unit

by Lindsay Price

This is a read, discuss, and apply literature unit. Students will study the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder.

Our Town is often referred to as “nostalgic.” It’s seen as an antiquated look at a moment in time. But this play is called Our Town, not My Town. What’s happening in Grover’s Corners happened in the past, the distant past, in our present, and even in the future. The themes of the play—the ordinary versus universality, the concept of time, the cycle of life, the ignorance of humanity to the eternal—these are just as relevant in the twenty-first century as they were when the play was written.

The purpose of the unit is not to have students recall knowledge about the play. Students will be able to identify, articulate, and dramatize text themes and concepts and compare/contrast these concepts to their own experiences.

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UNIT

What is Theatre?

by Lindsay Price and Karen Loftus

Students will establish a definition of theatre, know the difference between theatre and film, and start to explore who’s who in the theatre.

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UNIT

Improvisation

by Lindsay Price and Karen Loftus

Students sharpen their listening and reaction skills through improv games, exercises, and scenes. They will learn five specific guidelines to apply to their improvisation: accept the offer, bring information to the scene, make active choices, make your partner look good, and don’t force the humor.

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UNIT

Pantomime

by Lindsay Price and Karen Loftus

In this unit, students will explore nonverbal communication. First through body language and gesture, and then through the specific art of pantomime. Students will learn hand position, tension, follow-through, and action/reaction/interaction with objects through warm-up games and exercises. The unit culminates in a one-person pantomime performance.

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UNIT

Playwriting: Part 1

by Lindsay Price

Every drama program should have a playwriting unit. Playwriting applies creative thinking skills and, through feedback and revision, critical thinking skills. Playwriting also allows students to engage in self-expression. It is a powerful act to take one’s thoughts, give them to a character, and have them said aloud.

Playwriting can be a practical task-driven process that any student can accomplish, given the right parameters. This playwriting unit is broken into two parts. This unit is Part 1.

Part 1 is a standalone playwriting unit for beginning writers. Students go step by step through the elements of the playwriting process, which culminates in a short scene, monologue, and character profile. All the exercises can be done synchronously in your class sessions or small groups through breakout rooms.

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UNIT

Playwriting: Part 2

by Lindsay Price

Every drama program should have a playwriting unit. Playwriting applies creative thinking skills and, through feedback and revision, critical thinking skills. Playwriting also allows students to engage in self-expression. It is a powerful act to take one’s thoughts, give them to a character, and have them said aloud.

Playwriting can be a practical task-driven process that any student can accomplish, given the right parameters. This playwriting unit is broken into two parts - this unit is Part 2.

You can continue the playwriting process from Part 1 by having students apply what they’ve learned through writing a five- to 10-page play. Or, if your students are familiar with the playwriting elements, perhaps they just do Part 2 of this unit. Students will write a first draft, revise, give and receive feedback, and read their work aloud. The unit assumes that either students have completed Part 1 or they already have a grounding in the playwriting form.

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UNIT

Theatre of the Absurd

by Lea Marshall

We included this unit in our Distance Learning Curriculum because if any group of students would understand how the world turned upside down and then apply it to theatre, it would be the students dealing with a global pandemic.

First, we take two lessons to go over the historical and philosophical background of Theatre of the Absurd. We start with a visual exercise to bring students into the emotional bleakness of the landscape and then group work to look at some of the other foundational elements that will drive the absurdist movement into the theatres. Next, we break down absurd scripts into some “recognizable” elements of language, plot structure, acting choices, and storyline. In each lesson that introduces an absurdist element, there is an opportunity for students to “play” with the element.

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UNIT

Playwriting Kickstart: Multi platform

by Lindsay Price

This unit focuses on the idea stage of playwriting. Before you start a playwriting project, take students through these lessons to provide students a step-by-step process for idea generation. When students are told they’re going to write a play, they often freeze. I can’t do it. I’m not creative; my ideas are stupid. The purpose of this unit is to give students a place to start and a way to move from finding a topic to creating an idea to writing theatrically on ideas.

This unit is designed to reach as many classroom environments as possible and includes: standard in-class lessons, instruction videos, instruction handouts, and quizzes.

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PD COURSE

The Top Ten Playwriting Exercises

by Lindsay Price

The Top Ten Playwriting Exercises Course not only gives you ten great exercises to ease your students into the playwriting waters, it's also going to give you the confidence to teach playwriting to your students.

Each exercise comes with instruction, why the exercise is important, how to assess the exercise and something specific for you to try.

Many of the modules include assignments and rubrics so you will be fully prepared to comprehend, apply and teach every these exercises.

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PD COURSE

Working With Monologues For Rehearsal And Development

by Gai Jones

In "Working With Monologues For Rehearsal And Development" you will develop ten sessions of study on monologues. The study contains the definition and history of the monologue; monologue vocabulary; analysis of a practice monologue, staging a short monologue; working with musical theatre lyrics as a monologue; writing short autobiographical monologues.

At the end of this course, you will have a curriculum which can be used as introduction to monologue work. You'll outline a curriculum for your classroom and tie the learning benchmarks to the new National Theatre V&PA standards, as well as to Ontario and BC curriculum expectations.

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PD COURSE

Yes, And... How to Teach Improv

by Jennine Profeta

“Yes, and…” is the guiding principle behind all improv. This course will teach you how to teach improv, and more importantly how to give feedback to your students. The course looks at making strong offers and also using gibberish to ironically improv communication skills. You will also see how feelings can safely be used to add flavour and get laughs in our scenes.

Jennine Profeta, Second City performer and theatre educator, leads this course with a clear methodology for teaching and giving positive nurturing feedback. This course will give you all the tools and the insight you need to teach improv with confidence.

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PD COURSE

Commedia I: Playing Comedy

by Todd Espeland

Commedia dell’arte is a 16th Century masked acting form. It’s the basis of all comedy and it’s a form that many teachers want to include in their curriculum.

Instructor Todd Espeland has designed two courses that work hand-in-hand with teaching this fantastic physical form.

In Commedia I: Playing Comedy - Todd teaches the principles of comedy through four key elements: status, appetite, swing, and intention/invention. This course provides an excellent foundation upon which to explore Commedia to its fullest. Includes bonus videos, handouts, reflections, and exit slip question ideas for each lesson.

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PD COURSE

Creating the Ensemble-Based Classroom

by Gai Jones

Gai Jones will help you establish an ensemble-based environment from the first day of class or rehearsal.

Learn how to set up your ensemble-based classroom from day one, get students to set classroom norms, and find the balance between creative activity and structure. You’ll learn how to give your students creative freedom through structure and classroom management. The cornerstone of this course are the detailed ensemble experiences from large group to small group and even individual experiences.

This course culminates in a devising model that you can use with your students, and takes you through process, product, performance and an evaluation.

You too can create the ensemble-based classroom.

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PD COURSE

21st Century Skills Through Devising

by Allison Williams

Allison Williams leads the course: 21st Century Skills Through Devising. This course covers what devising is, why to do it, how to do it, and how your students can master the 21st Century Skills of collaborations and cooperation, critical thinking, creative thinking through devising.

High school is a great place to try devising with your students. But it’s not something you want to throw at your students without any preparation. Framework is important and this course takes you through a number of exercises you can take into the classroom tomorrow to help build a place of physical safety, a place where students work at making a lot of choices instead of waiting for the perfect choice, and a place where students feel comfortable making creative choices. The material also reviews the process of putting together a show from the idea/research stage to editing, to giving feedback.

Your students have what it takes to create their own material, collaborate with each other, and have a unique theatrical experience!

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PD COURSE

Play Adaptation Project

by Lindsay Price

Adaptation is a fabulous classroom project: it requires students to analyze, adapt, modify, plan synthesize, devise. All the higher order thinking skills.

But you can’t just throw a narrator into a script and call it a day. You have to have a preparation process leading up to the writing process.

In this course you will learn practical exercises and a path to prepare your students to take on their own adaptation project. We’ll look at the guidelines to adaptation, things to think about when choosing a text, how to analyze the source material and writing that first draft.

So join me, Lindsay Price, in the Play Adaptation Project.

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PD COURSE

Get Students to Embrace Failure in the Drama Classroom

by Lindsay Price

This course by Lindsay Price explores strategies you can use to encourage students to embrace failure rather than see it as a point of shame or something to hide from.

Our goal for students is to embrace a try/fail/try again/fail/try again/succeed formula. Each module in this course comes with exercises and activities that you’ll be able to take into the classroom right away.

It’s one thing to talk about embracing failure, it’s another to give students practical tools to help them achieve that goal. Join Lindsay in getting students to embrace failure in the drama classroom as we look at Failure from a Yes! perspective.

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PD COURSE

Hands-On Theatre History: Creating a Modern Day Morality Play

by Wendy-Marie Martin

Who says theatre history has to be boring? Hands-On Theatre History: Creating a Modern Day Morality play is an interactive course by Wendy-Marie Martin, combining hands-on activities with research and analysis techniques leading to a full performance of the popular medieval morality play, Everyman.

This course gives students an overview of the medieval period and the various medieval play forms and teaches students the key points of storytelling and adaptation.

It includes dynamic individual and group exercises leading students from the first steps of the adaptation process through a final, full-class performance of Everyman—and proves, once and for all, that theatre history can be fun and exciting to learn.

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PD COURSE

The Dilemma Project

by Claire Broome

Moral dilemmas are not only faced by characters in gripping plays, but are also faced by our students. The project outlined in this course will help students develop their critical thinking skills through the use of one of the dilemma questions to shape a student written production.

If you had the choice to press a button and earn $25,000,000... but a species (not of your choosing) would become extinct, what would you do? More importantly, what would your character do?

Join drama teacher and playwright Claire Broome through this course which includes role-playing, Stanislavski’s Magic If, character creation, playwriting and staging.

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View all Standards for California VAPA Standards (2001)    Standards Master List