CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.9-10.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
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.
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.
by Anna Porter
Musical Theatre has two components that separate it from straight plays: song and dance. This unit gives students the opportunity to try out both. In musical theatre, music signifies heightened emotion. We can’t express ourselves with just words, we need music (and through extension, song and dance) to take it further.
This unit includes three lesson plans:
1. Acting the Song - “Musical Tactics”
2. Acting the Song - “Textual Analysis”
3. Introduction to Dance
A solo performance assignment is also included, and the unit includes assessment tools - rubrics, reflections, and self-evaluations.
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 Anna Porter
In this unit by Anna Porter, students are introduced to the works of Shakespeare and explore how to bring a character to life in a monologue performance. Students are also introduced to the tools to help them unlock meaning in Shakespeare’s text. Through this eleven lesson series, students will participate in class discussions, activities and performance. Assessment tools include informal assessment, submission of textual analysis work and a final performance.
by Anna Porter
Shakespeare’s text holds valuable tools that students can use to unlock and understand meaning. In this unit by Anna Porter, students explore how to use the tools of research, context, textual analysis, imagery and punctuation to help them unlock meaning in Shakespeare’s text. This unit is created for an Intermediate to Advanced drama class with a basic background in plot structure and acting technique.
Through this five lesson series, students will use journals, participate in class discussions, activities and performance to explore the tools used to unlock a text. Assessment tools include informal assessment as well as a final group presentation and performance.
by Holly Beardsley
A costume designer and a costumer are two different things. A costume designer creates pieces from the drawing board to the stage, while a costumer pulls from already existing pieces to create fully realized characters. This means that the approach is different.
In this six lesson unit students will learn the tools of a successful costumer. They will start by reflecting on their own personal style and the choices that go into that style. They’ll move on to look at versatility and adapting costume staples, creating a costuming vision, period clothing as the costumer, how to use the colour wheel as a costuming tool and everything culminates in a final project (two options).
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.
by Matt Webster
In the Monologue Unit, students will learn the building blocks of monologues while writing a simple monologue. This unit is divided into two parts.
In part one, the Monologue Writing Made Easy unit by Matt Banaszynski is reviewed or executed in full, depending on class needs.
In part two, students will dissect monologues as a vehicle for character and performance and will write more refined monologues based on existing fictional characters from fairytales or myths. Students will then rehearse and perform their monologues, as a final project for the unit.
by Anna Porter
Students are introduced to scene work performance through a simple, contentless scene unit. In this unit, performers will use exercises like “Show and Tell” to learn how to fill in the gaps of a story by creating scenarios and detailed characters with backgrounds.
Students will further fill in the gaps by exploring environmental and physical conflict as well as stage business. The lesson “Thou Shalts of Staging” will guide students through basic staging and performance technique.
by Kerry Hishon
When teaching students who are brand new to theatre, it’s important to discuss and apply the expectations of the drama classroom and the theatrical world. How do you implement and instill theatre etiquette in your classroom and your rehearsals – before a show and backstage? A cohesive theatrical community starts with the rules and codes of behaviour both onstage and off.
Topics covered within the unit include: What is Etiquette, Real World vs Theatre World Etiquette, Audience Etiquette, Audition Etiquette, Pre-Show and Performance Etiquette. The unit ends with a culminating activity which included a rubric and reflection.
by Rachel Atkins
In this middle school unit by Rachel Atkins, students will explore how to strengthen a theatrical argument through objectives, communication, and conflict: What characters do, what they say, and how they say it when they make an argument or try to achieve an objective. To do this, students will use tableaux, dialogue, and improv. There are presentations and post-lesson writing assignments that you can use for assessment.
How do characters, actors and writers use a variety of actions to achieve an objective or support an argument? How do they enhance their communication by word choice and emotion? How do they develop and strengthen their own arguments by understanding other points of view?
by Lea Marshall
Aristotle was a huge fan of the theatre. He philosophically believed in it and argued with other great thinkers at the time about the necessity and good results of theatrical pursuits. This makes him a great topic for a drama classroom unit.
Aristotle identified six elements that needed to be in a play for it to be worthy: plot, thought, character, diction, spectacle, and sound. This unit by Lea Marshall focuses on and offers exercises for each of Aristotle’s elements - from using fairy tales to examine plot, to re-imagining movie trailers to explore music.
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.
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.
by Lindsay Price
In Part 2 of Scene Work, students take everything they learned in Part 1 and apply it to the staging of a scene.
Students work independently to block, build character, experiment and rehearse a scene. You can continue the scene work process from Part 1, or if your students have a grounding with scene work basics, perhaps they just do Part 2 of this unit.
by Lindsay Price
In order to partake in the audition process, students need to identify and comprehend the necessary steps in that process. What is the auditioning process? Why is it used? Is the process fair? Why or why not? The class ends with students playing director in the “Who Would You Cast?” Exercise.
by Todd Espeland
Friendly Shakespeare teaches a simple and effective method of script analysis for Shakespeare. It uses punctuation and keywords in the text to help students understand the characters' needs, make specific acting choices, and get them on their feet immediately.
This is not dry, sitting in a classroom discussion. It’s physicalizing the text, focusing on the character’s needs and tactics (something every drama student should know full well) and bringing Shakespeare to life.
At the end of the class you will be able to demystify Shakespeare's text and understand how to help your actors make clear, active and emotionally connected choices in Shakespeare's plays.
by Kerry Hishon
Instructor Kerry Hishon is an actor, director, writer, and stage combatant with years of experience in youth theatre. Her course, Theatre Etiquette 101, is designed to help students be successful in their theatrical journeys.
When teaching students who are brand new to theatre, it’s important to discuss and apply the expectations of the drama classroom and the theatrical world.
This course starts by explaining "what is theatre etiquette", and then moves through every step in the production process from audition to post-show recovery.
Every module has tips for both you and your students, classroom exercises, rehearsal exercises, and reflections. There are also printable posters included to use in your classroom or backstage.
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!
by Todd Espeland
Todd Espeland has the experience to know that having more tools in your toolbox makes you a better actor. This is especially important when teaching students how to approach Shakespeare. They need help breaking through the language barrier and into the character’s needs and into the character’s thoughts.
The tools that you’ll receive in this course will do just that. The course looks at scansion as a tool for breaking down Shakespeare’s verse, the importance of end of lines, and caesura. Caesura is an inner-line pause which is a lot of fun to play with and really, helps us provide insight to the character’s thoughts and into their needs.
The course provides numerous examples and handouts, and culminates in a performance assignment to use with your students.
by James Van Leishout
In this course, James Van Leishout explores why students should direct, and covers the first two tools in the director’s toolbox: self and the script. What background should every director have? Why should they learn to love research? What should happen in the first four reads of a script?
With every step along the way, there will be exercises and activities your student directors can take on before they step into the rehearsal process.
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.