Units

UNIT

Middle School Curriculum: Overview

by Lindsay Johnson

This is a curriculum overview for a scene study semester at the middle school level, designed specifically with 7th and 8th graders. The goal for each unit is to build off the knowledge and skills gained in the previous unit so students are gradually adding to their abilities as they progress through different types of scene performance assessments.

Students begin with the acting basics they need to create a successful scene: ensemble skills, improvisation, projection, vocal clarity and expression, characterization, pantomime, objective and tactics. They will learn script structure, blocking, and stage directions and how to give, receive and apply feedback. They will explore aspects beyond acting such as directing and simple set design.

Students will then continue to practice many of the same acting skills but in new contexts. While there will be some new acting skills added, such as memorization, use of levels, and character physicality, more focus will be placed on learning off-stage skills, such as directing, props, and using
theater to identify and address issues in our society through a culminating Theatre of the Oppressed unit.

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UNIT

Unit One: Ensemble Building and Class Norms

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.

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UNIT

Unit Two: Improvisation Basics

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.

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UNIT

Unit Three: Building Improvised Scenes

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.

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UNIT

Unit Four: Intro to Scripted Scenes

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will be introduced to the most basic of scripts: the contentless/open scene script. They will use their knowledge of character/relationships, setting, objective, and tactics to add content to a contentless scene. Students will also learn the basics of set design and blocking, and will begin
using voice expression to communicate clearer characters. The unit culminates in a performance assessment in which students will work in pairs to add content to and perform a contentless scene.

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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 Six: Directed Scenes Take 1: Same Scene, Different Visions

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.

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UNIT

Unit Seven: Directed Scenes Take 2: A Variety of Scenes

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will have another opportunity to participate in student-directed scenes, only this time each director will be assigned a different script, and actors for each group will be chosen by the teacher based on individual strengths and challenges, rather than holding auditions.

Actors will take a deeper dive into character physicality and use of levels in staging this unit. Directors will continue to create a set design and block the scenes, adding props as well in this unit.

The unit culminates in actors presenting their directed scenes to 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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Lesson Plans

LESSON PLAN

Ensemble Building

by Lindsay Johnson

In this first lesson at the start of a new year, students learn daily classroom routines, participate in a name game, and complete a successful journal entry reflecting on circle discussion. They will begin to interact with the Weekly Ensemble Rubric through the journal element.

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LESSON PLAN

Review Journal and Intro to Say Yes Rubric

by Lindsay Johnson

In this second lesson, students continue to practice classroom norms and interact with a second element of the Weekly Ensemble Rubric: SAY YES. Students will role-play a column of the SAY YES category of the Weekly Ensemble Rubric in small groups via a performance task.

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LESSON PLAN

Review Journal, Say Yes Rubric, and Intro to Be Safe Rubric

by Lindsay Johnson

In this third lesson, students continue to practice classroom norms and interact with a third element of the Weekly Ensemble Rubric: BE SAFE. Students will role-play a column of the BE SAFE Rubric in small groups via a performance task.

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LESSON PLAN

Intro to Feedback

by Lindsay Johnson

In this fourth lesson, students continue to practice classroom norms and are introduced to the concept of feedback. In the performance task, students will give peers strong feedback by using language from the Weekly Ensemble Rubric.

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LESSON PLAN

Feedback Continued

by Lindsay Johnson

In this fifth lesson, students continue to practice classroom norms and continue to practice giving strong feedback. In the performance task, students will practice giving strong feedback by giving a specific suggestion for improvement.

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LESSON PLAN

Feedback Continued and Feedback Quiz

by Lindsay Johnson

In this sixth lesson, students continue to practice classroom norms and continue to practice giving strong feedback. In the performance task, students will give peers strong feedback through using body language and vocal tone to encourage and show eagerness for peers to improve.

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LESSON PLAN

Relationships

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson we’ll look at how verbal and nonverbal clues communicate relationship to an audience. Students will improvise a short scene in pairs that shows a clear relationship between two characters using clue words and body language/expressions.

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LESSON PLAN

Setting

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, we’ll look at how we use physical clues to help the audience infer a specific setting for a scene. Students will improvise a short, silent, pantomimed scene in small groups that shows a clear setting – using gestures and movements only.

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LESSON PLAN

Conflict and Objectives

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, we’ll look at multiple perspectives that can lead to a conflict. In pairs, students will improvise a short scene in which each character has an objective that conflicts with the other character’s objective.

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LESSON PLAN

High-Stakes Objectives

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, we’ll look at multiple perspectives that can lead to a conflict. Students will take an objectives quiz to demonstrate their understanding of objectives, conflict, and stakes. This could be graded as a daily work grade or an assessment, and will give you a snapshot of students’ current understanding.

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LESSON PLAN

Tactics

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, we’ll look at multiple perspectives that can lead to a conflict and strategies employed to resolve it. Students will improvise a scene using 2+ tactics in partner groups. Some groups will perform for the class and receiving coaching and feedback on the Tactics Rubric.

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LESSON PLAN

Scene Assignment and Brainstorm

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned so far to communicate meaning in a scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics. Students will complete a Brainstorm Sheet to plan out their partner scene for assessment.

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LESSON PLAN

Objective and Tactics

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned so far during this unit to communicate meaning in a scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics. Students will complete a Rehearsal Checklist.

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LESSON PLAN

Relationship and Setting Rehearsal

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned so far during this unit to communicate meaning in a scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics. Students will complete a Rehearsal Checklist.

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LESSON PLAN

Projection Rehearsal

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned so far during this unit to communicate meaning in a scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics. Students will complete a Rehearsal Checklist.

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LESSON PLAN

Final Scene Rehearsal

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned so far during this unit to communicate meaning in a scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics. Students will complete a Rehearsal Checklist.

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LESSON PLAN

Scene Performance Assessment

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned so far during this unit to communicate meaning in a scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics. Students will perform their final partner scene in front of the class for assessment. They will also complete an Audience Feedback Sheet in which they give their peers feedback on Rubric skills.

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LESSON PLAN

Posters

by Lindsay Johnson

7 posters for the drama classroom, designed to support the objectives of the building improvised scenes unit.

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LESSON PLAN

Accepting & Building on Offers

by Lindsay Johnson

In this first improvisation lesson, students will work with the definitions of the key vocabulary terms by adding their own offers to improvised exercises and accepting and building on peer offers. Students will also give written and verbal peer feedback on the first row (ACCEPTING AND BUILDING ON OFFERS) row of the Improvisation Rubric, using language such as “improvisation” and “offers.”

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LESSON PLAN

Quick Thinking

by Lindsay Johnson

In this second improvisation lesson, students will practice accepting offers, building on offers, and thinking quickly in improvisation exercises. Students will also give written and verbal peer feedback on the second row (QUICK THINKING) of the Improvisation Rubric, using language from the Rubric.

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LESSON PLAN

Strong Offers

by Lindsay Johnson

In this third improvisation lesson, students will practice accepting offers, building on offers, thinking quickly and giving STRONG OFFERS in improvisation exercises. Students will also give written and verbal peer feedback using language from the Improvisation Rubric.

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LESSON PLAN

Performance Quiz

by Lindsay Johnson

In this fourth improvisation lesson, students will participate in a mock improv assessment in small groups. They will also give partners written feedback on the entire Improvisation Rubric. Students will learn the exercise that will be used for their final improv assessment.

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LESSON PLAN

Intro to Projection and Volume

by Lindsay Johnson

In this fifth improvisation lesson, students will learn the definition of “projection.” With partners, they will practice quick thinking, improv, and volume in performance. Afterward, students will give verbal feedback on the Improvisation Rubric and the VOLUME section of the Vocal Clarity Rubric.

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LESSON PLAN

Intro to Projection and Enunciation

by Lindsay Johnson

In this sixth improvisation lesson, students will practice in partners quick thinking, improv, and enunciation in performance. Afterward, students will give verbal feedback on the Improvisation Rubric and the ENUNCIATION section of the Vocal Clarity Rubric.

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LESSON PLAN

Review for Improv Test

by Lindsay Johnson

In this seventh lesson, students will practice their skills for the Lesson 8 test using a tongue twister (from Gilbert and Sullivan) as well as the improv game. Students will self-assess, and give/receive peer feedback.

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LESSON PLAN

Improv Test

by Lindsay Johnson

In this final lesson for this unit, students will participate in the improv game Hitchhiker as part of a peer and teacher assessment on the Improvisation Rubric.

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LESSON PLAN

Posters

by Lindsay Johnson

8 posters for the drama classroom, to support the objectives of the Improvisation Basics unit.

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LESSON PLAN

Intro to Scripts

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will brainstorm characters/relationships, setting, and conflicts to add content to a contentless scene that they will work on for the rest of the unit. Students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned in the previous unit to communicate meaning: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics.

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LESSON PLAN

Contentless Scene Brainstorm

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will brainstorm characters/relationships, setting, and conflicts to add content to a contentless scene that they will work on for the rest of the unit. Students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned in the previous unit to communicate meaning: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics.

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LESSON PLAN

Contentless Scene Content Peer Review

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will perform for peers and give and receive feedback on the Scene Details Rubric. Students will be using a variety of methods they’ve learned in the previous unit to communicate meaning in a contentless scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics.

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LESSON PLAN

Intro to Set and Stage Notes

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will learn the terminology needed to identify different parts of the stage and to create a set design that uses levels in an effective and appealing way. Students create a basic kitchen set design for a kitchen set design that applies their new knowledge of stage parts, levels and scenery.

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LESSON PLAN

Intro to Blocking

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will decide how best to include movement in their scene to help an audience understand what is happening in the scene. Students will complete a set design for their partner scene and add 3+ blocking notes to their scripts. Students will also take a Stage Directions Mini-Quiz
to demonstrate their understanding of stage directions/basic blocking notes.

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LESSON PLAN

Open Body and Blocking Review

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will review the “open body” element of projection. Using this technique, students will make it easier for audiences to see and understand their actions in the scene.

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LESSON PLAN

Intro to Voice Expression

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will focus on how voice can be used to communicate character as well as to make the dialogue in the scene easily accessible to an audience. Students will give and receive feedback on their vocal clarity and expression in performance.

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LESSON PLAN

Final Scene Rehearsal

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will review the various techniques we’ve explored this unit (voice, movement, set design, projection, etc.) to convey meaning in a contentless scene. They will continue to work on their scenes and complete a Rehearsal Checklist.

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LESSON PLAN

Scene Performance Assessment

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will review the various techniques we’ve explored this unit (voice, movement, set design, projection, etc.) to convey meaning in a contentless scene. Students will perform their final partner scene for assessment in front of the class. They will also completed an audience feedback sheet where they give their peers feedback on Rubric skills.

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LESSON PLAN

Posters

by Lindsay Johnson

8 posters for the drama classroom, to support the objectives of the Introduction to Scripted Scenes unit.

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LESSON PLAN

Partner Scene Brainstorming

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will create a scene outline by brainstorming and selecting the key foundations of their scene (setting, relationships, and conflicting objectives).

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LESSON PLAN

Script Drafting

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will create a script draft that includes the five required lines to establish character, setting, conflict, rising action, and resolution.

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LESSON PLAN

Script Formatting

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will create a script draft that includes scene setting, expression, and movement notes.

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LESSON PLAN

Peer Script Workshopping

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will review and help workshop a peer’s script before hearing feedback and making changes to their own scripts.

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LESSON PLAN

Set Design and Blocking

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will create a set design and add blocking notes to their scripted scenes.

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LESSON PLAN

Final Revision Rehearsal

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will revise their set designs and scripts to achieve “Meets” or “Exceeds” on the rubrics. They will also give peer feedback and rehearse their scenes for vocal clarity, expression, and open body.

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LESSON PLAN

Scripted Scene Performance Assessment

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will perform their final partner scene for assessment in front of the class. They will also complete an audience feedback sheet where they give their peers feedback on rubric skills.

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LESSON PLAN

Introduction to Directors and Close Reading of Scene

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students are introduced to the different tasks the director and the actor take on in a scene, complete an application for which role they would like to take on, and tackle a close reading of the unit scene.

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LESSON PLAN

Auditions

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will run auditions, or participate in them, for the scene, and directors will cast their scenes.

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LESSON PLAN

Planning and Memorization

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, actors will have their lines completely memorized using a cheat sheet, and directors will complete their scene prep (props, set design, blocking).

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LESSON PLAN

Objective and Tactics

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will complete four rehearsals of their scenes using Objective and Tactics Rehearsal Checklist, focusing on objective and tactics.

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LESSON PLAN

Levels

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will complete three to five rehearsals of their scenes using a rehearsal checklist, focusing on level changes.

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LESSON PLAN

Voice Expression

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will complete three to five rehearsals of their scenes using a rehearsal checklist, focusing on voice expression changes.

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LESSON PLAN

Movement Review

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will complete four rehearsals of their scenes using a rehearsal checklist, focusing on movement skills (blocking, tactics, levels).

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LESSON PLAN

Projection and Final Rehearsal

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will complete three to five rehearsals of their scenes using a rehearsal checklist, focusing on projection skills (voice clarity, open body).

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LESSON PLAN

Directed Scenes Performance Assessment

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will perform their scene for assessment in front of the class. They will also complete an audience feedback sheet where they give their peers feedback on rubric skills.

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LESSON PLAN

Reflection and New Scene Ranking

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students complete self and peer reflections for Unit 6. They also apply for an actor or director role and rank scenes for their work in this unit.

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LESSON PLAN

Introduction to Physicality

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students start working on physicality elements. They will complete an Introduction to Physicality Notes sheet and give peer observational feedback.

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LESSON PLAN

Scene Assignments and Close Reading

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students start working on their specific scene and complete a close reading.

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LESSON PLAN

Actor Memorization and Director Planning

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, student directors and actors have their own task. Actors will complete their cheat sheet and memorize 10+ lines with the cheat sheet. Directors will complete set design, props list, and 4+ blocking notes for each character.

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LESSON PLAN

Objectives, Tactics, and Blocking

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will complete a rehearsal checklist, focusing on objectives, tactics, and blocking.

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LESSON PLAN

Character Physicality

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will complete a rehearsal checklist, focusing on character physicality.

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LESSON PLAN

Levels and Movement Review

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will rehearse their scenes using a rehearsal checklist, focusing on level changes and movement in the scene.

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LESSON PLAN

Vocal Expression and Projection

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will rehearse their scenes using a rehearsal checklist, focusing on vocal expression and projection.

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LESSON PLAN

Final Rehearsal

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will rehearse their scenes using a rehearsal checklist, focusing on the skills of their choice.

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LESSON PLAN

Performance Assessment

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will perform their final scene for assessment in front of the class. They will also complete an audience feedback sheet where they give their peers feedback on rubric skills.

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LESSON PLAN

Introduction to Theatre of the Oppressed

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will participate in a tableau “Power Handshake” exercise that will give them some basic background experience with image theatre/tableau and nonverbal expressions of relationship and power. They will then work on their critical thinking skills by close reading an article that gives a brief introduction to Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed.

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LESSON PLAN

Power Games

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will participate in a number of power activities that will encourage them to come up with ways to physically demonstrate a powerful/powerless character. A discussion about power in our society will follow.

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LESSON PLAN

Image Theatre, Day 1

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will be introduced to Boal’s Image Theatre. They will review the concept of tableau (frozen picture) from Lesson 1, and they will be introduced to the tableau rubric and the three tableau skills (frozen bodies, 3+ levels, and character). In small groups, they will create tableaux that capture an image of “Family” (whatever that word means to them).

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LESSON PLAN

Image Theatre, Day 2

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will review the three tableau skills (frozen bodies, 3+ levels, and character). In small groups, they will analyze the tableaux from last class that captured an image of “Family” (whatever that word meant to them), as well as create and analyze new tableaux around a topical issue in society.

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LESSON PLAN

Image Theatre, Day 3

by Lindsay Johnson

In groups, students will brainstorm a list of scenarios in which they feel power or oppression in their daily lives. They will then select a scenario from their list and turn it into a tableau.

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LESSON PLAN

Introduction to Forum Theatre

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will be introduced to forum theatre by researching a video example. Students will then try their hand at forum theatre by acting out a middle school scenario of oppression, becoming spect-actors, and improvising solutions.

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LESSON PLAN

Creating Forum Theatre Scenarios

by Lindsay Johnson

In groups, students will begin by briefly bringing to life the tableaux from Lesson 5. They will then create the skeleton of a scene for each tableau, indicating the protagonist, antagonist, and method of oppression in each scenario. Finally, students will review their peer’s work and rank the scenes that they are most interested in bringing to life.

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LESSON PLAN

Script Writing for Forum Theatre Scene

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will take the scene outline created last class and use it to create a more detailed script that includes scene-setting notes, movement notes, and dialogue for the characters. Students will evaluate a peer’s script for errors in grammar or script writing conventions. They will then turn in their scripts for an assessment grade at the end of class.

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LESSON PLAN

Scene Rehearsal and Improv Review

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will begin by discussing the importance of realistic acting in these scenes, noting how they will be graded on the Realistic Acting Rubric. They will commit their scenes to memory and review projection skills. When the scenes are solid, students will then begin practicing becoming and reacting to spect-actors, and reviewing the Improvisation, Spect-acting, and Realistic Acting Rubrics after each spect-acting attempt.

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LESSON PLAN

Performance Assessment

by Lindsay Johnson

In this lesson, students will perform their final scene for assessment in front of the class. They will also complete an audience feedback sheet where they give their peers feedback on rubric skills.

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PLCs

PLC

Middle School Matters!

Hosted by Matt Webster, Lindsay Price, Lindsay Johnson, Marisa Brady

Middle School theatre teachers are a special breed. Their highs are higher, their lows are lower, and the drama in their classroom is much more dramatic! But for all of that, middle school drama teachers don't typically get the respect and attention they deserve. Well we have something to say about that! That's right, we are dedicating this PLC to the trials, tribulations and triumphs that can only be found in a Middle School Drama classroom. Join in as we talk about the bravest, the craziest, the awesomest teachers in the whole school: Middle School Drama Teachers! Because Middle School Matters...

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