11 create a dramatic situation in response to varied stimuli: objects, pictures, music
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 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 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).
by John Minigan
The objective of this unit by John Minigan is to move students from a traditional presentational model of performance to a three-dimensional model. You’re going to achieve this by having students
- Develop tactics to achieve character goals, despite obstacles
- Connect physical choices to scene structure and relationships
- Clarify tactics and story rather than forcing emotion
- And focus on the scene partner rather than the self
This unit was created to use with grade nine students as a transition from middle school to high school acting approaches. It would also be appropriate for a beginning-of-the-year unit for a program that includes Drama 1. But any class that is at the beginning of their acting process will find value.
Each lesson comes with an engagement Rubric to assess how students participated in the activities and discussions.
by Lindsay Johnson
In this unit, students will learn, practice and apply three important rules of improv: accepting and building on offers, quick thinking, and strong offers. For each step, they will work with the Improvisation Rubric by both giving and receiving feedback. Students will also start to practice techniques to improve their vocal clarity. The unit culminates in a performance assessment in which students will play an improv game in front of an audience.
by Lindsay Johnson
Students will understand the basic building blocks of a scene: The Who (characters/ relationship), the Where (setting), and the What (conflict – objectives/tactics). They will learn how to use both verbal and nonverbal (pantomime) clues to communicate these scene details to an audience. They will continue to work on voice clarity, while also learning to open their body to an audience. The unit culminates in a performance assessment in which students work in pairs to improvise a scene.
by Annie Dragoo
Musical theatre performers use their bodies to sing, to dance, and to act. We must think of our bodies as instruments and learn to use our instruments properly in order to be better musical theatre performers.
The overall objective with this unit, by Annie Dragoo, is for students to demonstrate an understanding of the use of good movement as it connects to musical theatre. Some of the activities include using action verbs, moving as animals and inanimate characters, nonverbal communication and situational movement. Students will then perform a scene that will allow them to put to practice all the movement techniques they have learned.
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 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.
by Jennine Profeta
Taking risks, learning to see failure as a gift, finding courage when we don't feel it, and having the awareness that what we say has an impact are social and emotional skills students will take beyond the classroom. These are skills that can be built through improv exercises.
The exercises in this unit are designed to create a safe environment in which students can go beyond their old patterns to take risks, embrace failure, and be more confident and aware of the effects of their word choices. Improv gives you the opportunity to draw attention to these important concepts and to talk about them.
by Gai Jones
All students have something to say and a story to tell. They can relate to their personal stories better than anyone else. All students have a lot of material which can be used as part of an original monologue.
In this unit, students will write an autobiographical monologue based on their personal expertise, memories, distinct point of view, sense of truth, and life experiences.
Through the process, students will be encouraged to explore past stories, objects, and images and other personal material.
by Todd Espeland
Working in educational theatre I know how easy it is to get bogged down in actor coaching and away from the bigger picture storytelling when directing a show. I saw a need for a method of text analysis and physical staging tools that help the director stay focused on the bigger picture of telling the story of the play.
This class is in two parts: The first consists of the text analysis tools P.A.S.T.O and Major Dramatic Question. From these tools you will brainstorm keywords to define your vision of the story.
In the second part of the class you will focus on taking the information generated in the text analysis and crafting the ideas into vibrant physical pictures through an exercise called Starburst.
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.
by Lindsay Price
Close reading is an activity that puts curriculum standards into practice and it can be easily applied to the drama classroom.
Close reading asks a lot of your students. They have to read and think at the same time.
This course teaches drama teachers how the close reading process works, and gives them exercises and tools to apply it in the classroom.
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.
by Jennine Profeta
Second City performer and theatre educator Jennine Profeta is back and ready to help you take your Improv classes to the next level. It’s all getting students to perform - and how to be a great improv coach who can keep them supported and grounded (and having fun!)
In this course, you’ll learn the golden rules of improv. You’ll learn a bunch of improv games (great for warm-ups, teaching tools, and even for competitions). You’ll learn Jennine’s tips and tricks for what to look for when coaching and how to troubleshoot common issues.
The course is designed to help you improv as an ensemble and give you the know-how to coach with confidence whether it’s in the classroom or on the stage!
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 Steven Stack
Why should you take a class on empathy? And why is theatre the perfect vehicle for empathy?
Empathy, the more sought-after and inclusive cousin of sympathy, is the experiencing of someone else’s experience in the world. What it would be like if you were wearing their clothes, their life?
Teaching students to understand the clothes that they’re putting on, the characters and their lives teaches students not how to act but how to be. It allows the students to feel what someone else feels and experiences, which can and should translate to their fellow actors and peers away from the stage. It will lead to a stronger class connection, stronger performances and stronger students who will seek out understanding instead of isolation and fear.
by Julie Hartley
Shakespeare is one of the greatest resources a drama teacher can have: scenes packed with action; opportunities to explore comedy and physical theatre; rich themes and characters to act as springboards for devised theatre; the chance to work with our language at its finest and – most importantly – ideas that relate directly to the experiences and preoccupations of students.
Yet Shakespeare isn’t easy. The language can seem dense, and finding a way in can be tough – especially for drama teachers who have not themselves studied Shakespeare. That’s the goal of this course – to help teachers find a way in.
This course presents teachers with as many ways in to the exploration of Shakespeare as possible. Action scenes, themes, characters, different theatre styles, and devised theatre projects. Students will be armed with the tools they need to begin individually exploring monologues, or working together on scenes.
by Jennine Profeta
Jennine Profeta, Second City performer and theatre educator, leads this course. This course was designed to give a teacher tools to create a safe environment in which students can go beyond their old patterns to take risks, embrace failure, be more confident and aware of the effects of their word choice. The course includes modules on risk-taking, creating a safe environment, failure, confidence, and positive/negative speak.
by Steven Stack
Brought to you by instructor Steven Stack, creator of The Empathetic Classroom, this course looks at ways to move on from the worldwide pandemic, while honoring the past and learning from it. In the past year, students had many things taken from them: school, hanging out with friends, freedom, hope, and innocence.
With this course, each session will highlight one specific topic relating to moving on. There will also be activities for each session that will help your students own the past, embrace their own and others’ narratives and scars, create a stronger classroom community, find ways to be where their feet are planted, and learn to play again.
by Matt Webster
This course is about the fact that so-called soft skills are sought after and highly valued in professional work environments, educational settings, and in everyday social interactions. They're valuable life skills, but we can't always identify these skills within a standard educational setting, and yet, they are incredibly useful in education and beyond. That's why it's important to be able to identify these soft skills in the classroom and in the educational process and to recognize that these soft skills are being taught every day in the drama curriculum. We need to concentrate our efforts into making sure that these skills are identified and utilized within our classrooms. They are built into every arts curriculum a school offers, especially the theater arts.