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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Drama Lesson Plan

Grades:

6-8

Lesson Plan:

Comparing Literary Elements of Drama

Students watch two video excerpts from dramatic performances and compare character development, plot development, conflict, and resolution in the two pieces.
  • Length: 50 minutes

Concepts/Objectives:

  • Students will identify the elements of drama.
  • Students will explore how characters express feelings.
  • Students will compare and contrast two dramatic performances using some of the elements of drama.

Resources Used:

Basics
Found On: Performance Excerpts
Video Length: 00:03:31

The Great Gilly Hopkins
Found On: Performance Excerpts
Video Length: 00:06:20

Vocabulary

discovery, empathy, falling action, language, motivation, plot, rising action, suspense, theme, turning point
Materials

TV/VCR or DVD player, chart paper and markers or overhead projector

Handouts:

Instructional Strategies and Activities

Comparing Technical Elements

This lesson asks students to compare the literary elements of two plays with similar themes. Both scenes, however, also offer opportunities to compare and contrast technical elements, particularly the set and props. Ask students to describe each set. Which one is more realistic? How important are the props in each scene? How effective are the sets/props in each play? What is the overall effect of the set on the impact of the play?

Review the literary elements of drama.

Conduct a mini-lesson on the literary elements of drama. Walk students through a plot map, starting with exposition and working through rising action, turning point, falling action, and resolution. Then discuss how suspense, theme, language, empathy, motivation, discovery, and character also play roles in telling a story. You may want to read a one-act play and discuss these terms as you go, or you may want to just introduce the vocabulary words.


Introduce the video excerpt Basics.

Basics is a play written and performed by students at Walden Theatre in Louisville. Show the clip and have students watch for the plot stages and the other elements of drama. You may want to divide the class into several groups and assign each group a specific aspect of the elements to look for. You may also want to give students a handout of the discussion questions so they can jot down notes as they watch. Some students may need to view the performance more than once—once to get a feel for it, then again to analyze it.


After watching the excerpt:

On an overhead or chart paper, record students’ responses to the following questions:

  • What are the events that contain the exposition?
  • What is the problem?
  • What events lead up to the turning point (rising action)?
  • What is the turning point?
  • What events lead to the resolution (falling action)?
  • Is the problem solved? If so, how?
  • What is the strongest theme in the piece?
  • Who are the characters telling the story?
  • Is the language appropriate for the characters/story?
  • Does the playwright use suspense? If so, how?
  • Do the characters discover anything about themselves?
  • What is the motivation for the characters to continue telling the story?
  • Describe the characters. How do they feel? How do you know?
  • Can you identify with either of the characters?

View scenes from The Great Gilly Hopkins.

Now show the excerpt from The Great Gilly Hopkins and have students watch for the same elements and discuss the same questions as with Basics.


Compare and contrast the two excerpts.

After viewing both excerpts, return to the literary elements of drama. Discuss how the two excerpts are similar and different in terms of theme, language, characters, environment, emotions, motivation, and discovery. Make a chart or use an overhead to list the similarities and differences.

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Support • Connections • Resources

  • 5 Easy-To-Read Plays Based on Classic Stories, Scholastic Professional Books, ISBN-0-439-04415-4
  • Acting and Theatre, Usborne, ISBN-0-7460-06
  • Schanker, Harry H. and Katharine Ommanney. The Stage and the School. Glencoe/McGraw Hill.

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Extensions for Diverse Learners

  • Have students work in pairs or small groups.
  • Have students select and present one-act plays.

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Writing To Communicate

  • Personal-Expressive: Write a personal narrative about a confused time in your life or a time when you learned a lesson from an older person.
  • Literary: Write a short script employing the elements of drama.
  • Transactive: Write a critique of a theatrical performance, discussing the elements of drama. Create an advice column about teen problems for your school newspaper.

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Applications Across the Curriculum

Language Arts

  • Read one-act or full-length plays, focusing your reading on one or more literary elements of drama.

Science

  • Create a script describing an important scientific discovery using the literary elements of drama.

Mathematics

  • Create and distribute a survey among students on how they deal with their feelings. Create a chart or graph to show your results.

Practical Living

  • Role-play different teenage problems/situations that involve deep feelings.

Vocational Studies

  • Have a counselor visit your classroom and talk about how to handle emotions/feelings in a healthy way, as well as how a counselor can help.

Open Response Assessment

Prompt: You have been asked to teach the elements of drama to a group of 5th graders.

Directions:

  1. Chart the plot of a play.
  2. Describe how to chart the plot of a play in your lesson. Use examples and details.
  3. Identify two additional elements of drama you will cover in your lesson and explain them.

Open Response Scoring Guide
4 3 2 1 0
Student charts the plot of a play correctly and identifies and explains two additional elements of drama. The student’s answer demonstrates extensive knowledge of the elements of drama and effectively uses many supporting examples and details. Student charts the plot of a play correctly and identifies and explains two additional elements of drama. The student’s answer demonstrates broad knowledge of the elements of drama and uses some supporting examples and details. Student is basically correct in charting the plot of a play and identifies and explains two additional elements of drama. The student’s answer demonstrates basic knowledge of the elements of drama and uses a few supporting examples and details. Student attempts to chart the plot of a play and identifies and explains at least one additional element of drama. The student’s answer demonstrates limited knowledge of the elements of drama and uses few or no supporting examples and details. No answer or irrelevant answer.

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Performance Assessment

Performance Event: You are going to read a play and look for the elements of drama.

Directions: Choose a one-act play and read it. Using appropriate vocabulary, discuss the play in terms of the elements of drama: rising action, falling action, character, climax, turning point, theme, language, empathy, and discovery.

Performance Scoring Guide
4 3 2 1 0
Student completes assignment, exhibiting extensive understanding of the elements of drama and extensive critical thinking skills. Student effectively uses many supporting details and examples. Student completes assignment, exhibiting broad understanding of the elements of drama and broad critical thinking skills. Student effectively uses some supporting details and examples. Student completes most aspects of assignment, exhibiting basic understanding of the elements of drama and some critical thinking skills. Student effectively uses a few supporting details and examples. Student attempts to complete assignment, but exhibits minimal understanding of the elements of drama and little or no use of critical thinking skills. Student uses few or no supporting details and examples. No answer or irrelevant answer.

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Academic Content


Academic Expectations:

  • 1.15: Students construct meaning and/or communicate ideas and emotions through movement.
  • 2.24: Students appreciate creativity and the value of the arts and humanities.
  • 2.25: Through their productions and performances or interpretations, students show an understanding of the influences of time, personality, and society on the arts and humanities.
  • 2.26: Students recognize differences or commonalities in the human experience through their productions, performances, or interpretations.

Program of Studies:

  • Recognize plot development (e.g., rising action, turning point, falling action) and other dramatic elements such as theme, language, empathy, and motivation.
  • Explain how the elements of drama are used to create dramatic works.
  • Compare and contrast characters, environments, and actions in theatrical presentations from a variety of media.
  • Use appropriate terminology to review one’s own and others’ works and constructively suggest ways to improve collaborative artistic processes (e.g., planning).

Core Content for Assessment:

  • AH-(06) (07) 08-1.3.1: Students will (identify or describe) (analyze) compare or evaluate the use of elements of drama in drama works (literary, technical, performance).

Author:

Sherry Tucker

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