Reading Drama: Acting out Act III of "A Raisin in the Sun"

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SWBAT cite textual evidence to demonstrate understanding of what the text says, thematic development, and complex characters through in-class responses to peer performances.

Big Idea

Does what you see on the page match what a peer sees? Today we examine how students put the performance of the play into practice.

Introduction & Welcome: It's the Last Day of School!

3 minutes

Today is the last day of school, and before we begin to address Act III of "A Raisin in the Sun," I take a moment to thank the students for a great school year, and let them know I appreciate their hard work and contributions to the Better Lesson/National Education Association Master Teacher Project. As with all Daily Holidays, my objective is to build a sense of community, class identity, and trust in the classroom.

Following Stage Directions: Acting out "A Raisin in the Sun"

45 minutes

Today's focus is on student performance of "A Raisin in the Sun." In order to provide students with an opportunity to see how the thematic ideas of home, family conflict, and dreams develop and are resolved over the course of the play (RL.9-10.2), and how the characters interact with each other and these themes (RL.9-10.3), I ask for volunteers to perform the parts of the cast of "A Raisin in the Sun." For this act, we need Ruth, Travis, Walter Lee, Beneatha, Mama, Carl Lindner, and Joseph Asagai, as well as a stage manager/narrator to read the stage directions. 

We set up the classroom furniture to loosely represent the set of the play, this provides an opportunity to check for student understanding as I ask them to provide specific textual evidence to help me place the tables, chairs, etc. that Hansberry describes in the first two pages of the play (RL.9-10.1). 

In order to set the tone of the scene,  I begin reading the stage directions before asking the student narrator to take over, and the performers to present their parts in a way that both follows the line or reasoning of the script and is appropriate for a performance of the play  (SL.9-10.4). As the students perform their parts, we stop to discuss why or how characters would act the way they do, drawing on the understanding of stage directions that students have been developing throughout this unit.

With this performance, students have been exposed to a variety of ways to read drama: in a large group, in small groups with each student taking a part, individually, viewing critically, and acting out the play. Each approach has its advantage and disadvantages, but students can now decide which approach works best for them.

Two-Minute Warning: Wrap-Up & Reminders

2 minutes

With two minutes remaining, I offer an opportunity to ask any questions students may have regarding their upcoming final exam, let them know that it will include summative assessment of "A Raisin in the Sun," and remind them, one final time of the format: a blend of multiple choice (including matching) and short answer questions. 

Included in the multiple choice sections are reading selections, either passages from the stores, poems, and non-fiction works we read; other works by the same author; or similar material. Questions on these range from reading comprehension to more complex application of ideas ("which best explains," "what is the best paraphrase," etc.). Some multiple choice questions require recall of the material from class, but as a rule, and a personal preference, more are this style that requires the students to know the skills we addressed and apply those to the material on the test.

The short answer questions typically ask students to compare key ideas or themes expressed in works or analyze how characters develop in connection to the themes of a work. These are one to two paragraphs, and are graded both on content and format, as they comprise a summative assessment.