Why Read Plays: Exposing the Elements of a Drama

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SWBAT to acquire and use domain-specific terms about the elements of a play sufficient for reading, writing, listening and speaking on the career-readiness level by identifying the elements of a drama in a one-page play.

Big Idea

Why do I need to learn words and phrases about drama? So you won't break a leg as you read the lines!

Lesson Introduction

Why study the elements of a play?

Today's lesson is an integral part of the preparation for the performance assessment for Fences by August Wilson because my students and I need to explore how the elements of a play come together to create the dramatic effect they see on a stage.

I am teaching today's lesson because I want my students to develop an intimate relationship with the terms and concepts they will be encountering as they read the play.

Furthermore, my students and I will be going to the Broadway performance of A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry on April 30, 2014. Therefore, my choice to focus on the elements of a drama will prove quite advantageous not only while we are studying Fences, but while we go to view this live performance as well.

Warmup/Do Now

15 minutes

For this part of the lesson, students will activate their prior knowledge about drama or plays using a KWL Chart. They will fill out K and W only. Then, they will use their responses to write an informational paragraph about what they know and what they want to know about the following related topics: plays, dramas, acting or the theater. Students will complete K and W on the KWL chart for one or more of the related topics based on the topics they know (W.9-10.10).

I am including samples of my students' responses for this task: Student#1,   Student#2  and Student#3.


Engagement: The Elements of a Drama

15 minutes

For this part of the lesson, we will be watching The Elements of Drama, a video by Mrs Alicea, available on Youtube. We will identify the elements of a drama shown in her video and define the terms and concepts as identified in her video.

I chose this video because it is a nonthreatening way of introducing domain-specific vocabulary (L.9-10.6) that students would find intimidating were I to present a lecture about the topic in a professorial manner. 

After viewing the video, my students and I will create a class list of Literary Terms as well as the Definitions for the Literary Terms .  I chose to have the students share their responses at the end of the video because it is a natural impulse to express our understanding or to ask questions about what we view, hear, see and perceive when watching a short video clip (SL.9-10.1).


30 minutes

Now that students have learned the elements of drama from viewing the film and developing a list as a class, I will give my students the opportunity to show what they have learned and apply their learning to a short play. We will identify the elements of a drama in Saturday Night by Griff Scott, a One Page Play Winner at Hotbed Festival 2013 hosted by the Menagerie in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Students will use the terms they identified as elements of a drama to label the play accordingly (L.9-10.6).

I chose this play because it is one page long, so the text is not overwhelming to them to read in one sitting. Also, I am not assessing their ability to comprehend the text, but instead, am giving this formative assessment to see if they can recognize the elements of a play. I chose this play because it is discussing two people's views on a popular topic in our culture today, Facebook, and the characters are looking at it from the perspective of their generation (grandfather and grandchild). In addition, there is a bit of humor in the text (a play on words), and though there are two references to curses in the text the mentioning of these words does not take away from the message of the play.

I am including samples of my students' responses for this task: Student#1 and Student#2.


Please note: An additional reference you may consider to prepare for this lesson is the Drama visual provided for free by teachers at www.worldofteaching.com


10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, I ask my students a simple question that will also serve to complete their KWL chart from earlier in the lesson: What are the elements of a drama? Explain in your own words using terms from the lesson (W.9-10.10 and L.9-10.6). 

I ask my students this question because I want to see how they will respond. Will they mention every element of a drama? Will they mention some and ignore others? Will they include something we might not have covered? It is always interesting to see how each student responds to a question.

I am including samples of my students' responses for this task: Student#1 and Student#2.