Rebecca Field, The Julia Morgan School for Girls, Oakland, California.
This lesson plan can be adapted to any play.
What's On for Today and Why
As middle schoolers develop their critical thinking skills, they often struggle with the concept of "the main idea." They can recite everything that has happened in a story, but they have trouble deciding which actions or events are the most important for the furthering of plot. This activity gives students the opportunity to develop this skill through informal classroom performance as they review the play.
This activity should take 1–2 class periods to complete.
What You Need
Folger edition of your chosen play
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
Notecards with act and scene numbers written on them (1.1, 1.2, etc.)
What To Do
1. Write the act and scene number for each of the scenes your students have read on note cards.
2. Divide your class into groups, one for each scene if possible.
3. Have each group draw a card. This card will tell them which scene to prepare. Remind your students not to share the information on the card with the other groups.
4. As a group, have the students create a list of the most important events and main ideas in their scene. They should find one or two quotes from their scene for each main idea. (Some scenes will generate longer lists than others.)
5. Once they have completed their list, have them show you so you can make sure that they have all of the most important elements in the scene. If you think they have all of the essential information, they can move onto the next step; if not, have them think about their scene more. They cannot move on to the next step until they have your approval.
6. Tell students that they will illustrate the main ideas in their scenes by creating a series of tableaux (silent, physical representations of the main events in the scene: living pictures). All students in the group must participate. Students should move into a series of poses that communicate the main ideas of their scenes. Give students about 15 minutes to prepare these. Remember to have them spread out so that their performances remain as secretive as possible.
7. Create a performance space in the classroom. Explain to students that each group will perform their tableaux, and it is the job of the other groups to determine the main ideas and act/scene number of the tableaux. The first group to identify the scene and main ideas receives a point. The group with the most points at the end of the class wins the review game.
8. Have the groups perform out of sequential order, pausing after each performance. Once one of the groups has identified the scene, the performers of the tableaux should read the lines from the scene they selected to illustrate the main ideas. Continue with this process until all of the groups have performed their tableaux.
9. Have students write about why the tableaux were chosen as representative of the main ideas in the scenes. Have them determine which scenes are the most important to the play and why.
How Did It Go?
Were students engaged in the activity? Did all of the students participate in the tableaux? Were the groups able to guess the scenes as they were performed? Were students able to select lines from the scenes that indicate understanding of the main ideas? Were students able to identify and express in writing the main ideas in the play? Did the students seem to have a good time?
If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.