TH.68.C.1.3 Determine the purpose(s), elements, meaning, and value of a theatrical work based on personal, cultural, or historical standards.
by Lindsay Johnson
This unit has six lessons that you can use in the first week of your middle school program. What do you do in the first week? The most important elements are creating routines such as journal prompts, opening and closing circles, and giving strong feedback; creating an ensemble and ensemble-building games; and introducing a Weekly Ensemble Rubric.
Students will define and build ensemble as a group, learning specific ways they can SAY YES and BE SAFE in class. They will understand the daily grading system and the basic routines of class. Finally, students will learn to give strong feedback by connecting specific evidence from performance to the Rubric language.
by Lindsay Johnson
Students will now start applying the skills they’ve learned thus far in the context of existing, fleshed-out scripts.
They will also have opportunities to shift from actor to director and hone such skills as collaboration, self-confidence, and problem-solving which can be used in many other areas of their lives.
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.
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.
by Angel Borths
Teacher Angel Borths developed this unit when she was looking for lessons to teach the basics of pantomime in the classroom.
This unit culminates in a finished product for performance, either for peers, or for theatre festivals. The rubrics and written work for this unit take planning and preparation for performance into account. The exercises can be pulled out and used independently, but work best when used to build toward a finished product. You can also pull the ground plan and stage directions lesson plans to use with playwriting or directing lessons.
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.
by Lindsay Price
In studying Ancient Greece, we’re looking at the foundations of theatre as we know it today. Without the Ancient Greek Era, we do not get actors, theatres, plays, and the definitions of tragedy and comedy.
The issue with studying theatre history, or anything historical is that it can become an exercise in memorizing dates and reciting facts. When the truth of the matter is no one in the 21st century benefits from learning by rote. This is especially true when studying history in the framework of a drama classroom. We need exercises that bring history to life, instead of having students plot dates on a timeline.
To that end, this unit does not focus on dates and data. The essential question for the unit is how can we connect the past to the present and this question is explored through the theatricalization of information. Students will access all four 21st century skills, critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration and communication as they explore this amazing world.
Reflections, exit slips, and rubrics are included throughout the unit as well as a mid assignment evaluation for the culminating project.
by Lindsay Price and Kerry Hishon
This unit focuses on character creation: How do you create a character from the ground up? Use this unit as a precursor to a playwriting unit, to a devising unit, or to a class production.
Using the archetypes of the superhero, the sidekick, and the supervillain, students work on exercises to help them create unique characters through physical and vocal qualities, character profiles, and theatrical writing.
Because many of the exercises have an individual focus, this unit works in a distance learning environment or for your no-technology students.
by Allison Green
This Indigenous Storytelling unit is brought to you in a different format than a traditional lesson plan. It uses a learning circle format. It was developed by Allison Green, a member of the Algonquin Band of Mattawa Ontario, who is also the author and instructor of the DTA course Approaching Drama Class with an Indigenous Perspective.
Students will discuss origin stories, research the background and land connection of a variety of Indigenous creation stories, create a plot graph of their story, share with the class what they have learned, and then retell the story in their own words. Once students have practiced this process, they will repeat the steps with an Abenaki creation story: Research | Recreate | Understand.
by Annie Dragoo
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the foundations of acting. At the end of the unit, students will be able to understand the value of making rich acting choices on stage.
This unit gives students an opportunity to explore and develop acting skills on a more advanced level, regardless of experience. They will explore skills, including voice, movement, emotional recall, memory, playing objectives, and character development culminating in a final scene.
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.
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.