Monday, January 5, 2015

Students as Playwrights and Directors- Part One (The Playwright)

Theatre, Education, Lesson plan, Students as Playwrights
This lesson is an excellent Arts Integration lesson that would work in both a Theatre or ELA classroom. It worked much better than I expected ( in all honesty I thought it would fail miserably when I thought about trying it). This lesson would work great for any grade level- you would simply need to increase the rigor. This lesson is a great example of integrating Theatre and Language Arts together. I hope you enjoy! I broke this lesson into two parts you could do either part of the lesson or combine them to create an awesome super lesson!

Part one: Students as Playwrights

Supplies- thought provoking pictures (I used The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg but a friend of mine used Ansel Adams photographs.) You could probably use anything interesting that is age appropriate. You either need enough pictures for every student or the pictures need to be big enough for several students to look on together. 
Great book to use for creative writing and theatre
Step 1- Introduce the writing/play-writing process. Remind students there are 5 steps: pre-writing, rough draft, edit/ revising and finial draft/production. 

Step 2- Give each student/group a picture. Help them create a quick brainstorm by asking open ended questions. 
~where are you?
~what do you see?
~what do you feel?
~what time of day is it?
~ What is unique about your picture?
~etc.
I tell the students ahead of time that there are no right/wrong answers. I encourage them to write quickly without thinking to hard about their answers. This usually helps the creativity flow.

Step 3- Give the students a quick review of descriptive writing. Remind them that they only get one chance to get the picture in their head into someone else's. There is a huge difference between "The lady drove the car" And "The old blonde lady with the flowing red scarf quickly drove the bright pink convertible down the long mountain road to get her kids McDonalds" (This is the sentence my 2nd graders came up with) Have the class help you expand the sentence to see how details create the story.

Step 4- First draft. Allow the students time to create a story based off of the picture. Remind them to use details and refer back to their brainstorming. I tell them they can write about any school appropriate story as long as it is clearly based on the picture. Give any parameters you feel are needed at this time (must have beginning,middle, end, characters, be written like a play, etc.)

Step 5- (optional) depending on your time you could have them revise/edit their story and type a final draft. I only see my students for 40 minutes once a week so this step gets combined with the next steps in part two. If you had more time or you are an ELA teacher I would highly recommend you doing this step.