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Our Town Unit

Created 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.

Standards Addressed

Overview
The overview lays out the lesson structure for the unit and includes details on lesson format, lesson activity choice, and assessment.
1: Our Town Pre-Reading Exercise
In this pre-reading lesson, students reflect on their day-to-day life and look for the connection between the ordinary and universality. It’s important to have them connect the ordinary and universality in a modern context, before moving to the same connections in the text.
2: Our Town Introduction
In this lesson, students will be introduced to Our Town through positive and negative reviews of the original production, examine and discuss a facts sheet on the play, and learn more about the world the playwright was writing in through a research activity.
3: Our Town Act One - Read
In this lesson, students will read and analyze Act One of Our Town within the theme of the ordinary versus universality. The lesson format encourages students to explore text themes and concepts through scene work before they read, participate in a small group discussion post read, and then take on an activity to apply knowledge through a theatrical expression of the text.
4: Our Town Act One - The Stage Manager
In this lesson, students will continue to analyze the first act of Our Town with a focus of examining the non-realistic elements Wilder uses. What comes across as a play steeped in realism and realistic characters actually uses a number of experimental theatrical techniques.
5: Our Town Act Two - Read
In this lesson, students will read and analyze Act Two of Our Town within the theme of love and marriage. The lesson format encourages students to explore text themes and concepts through scene work before they read, participate in a small group discussion post read, and then take on an activity to apply knowledge through a theatrical expression of the text.
6: Our Town Act Two - The Concept of Time
In this lesson, students will continue to analyze the second act of Our Town by examining the concept of time. Why does the play use a wedding and the idea of marriage as a marker for time slipping away? How do characters react to the passage of time?
7: Our Town Act Three - Read
In this lesson, students will read and analyze Act Three of Our Town within the theme of death. The lesson format encourages students to explore text themes and concepts through scene work before they read, participate in a small group discussion post read, and then take on an activity to apply knowledge through a theatrical expression of the text.
8: Our Town Act Three - Being Eternal and Culminating Presentation
In this lesson, students will continue to analyze the third act of Our Town with a focus of examining the concept of the eternal as it connects to valuing the ordinary.

Standards Addressed

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