As a culminating project for this mini-unit on theme, students will work in small groups to develop, write and perform skits. Prepare for pandemonium when this is announced because they love this type of activity! Of course, they are most concerned about picking their own groups. Sometimes I do allow them to have some say, but since this is only a two day activity I assign the groups. Besides, the current seating arrangement has the students placed in a way that accounts for mixed-academic ability, behavior, and social interaction. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right?
To prepare students for the work ahead, we review the writing process for developing a plot using this story elements worksheets from readwritethink.org. The answer key is available here. Another important step is to read over the rubric to be sure everyone is aware of the academic goals and grading criteria for this project.
Now that the students are aware of the literary elements involved, it’s time to review the details specific to drafting and producing a skit. A useful tool is this guide published by ehow.com. Students continue to refer to this worksheet throughout the activity to stay on track. I often find myself asking a student or group to show me where they are on the list and to make adjustments if they are getting ahead of themselves or falling behind.
The time has come to choose topics. The choices include themes related to friendship or power. The one warning I give students is to avoid excessive violence. We review each option together and then each group chooses one that interests. It doesn’t matter if one theme is chosen more than once or if not every theme gets picked. It is also not uncommon that groups change their minds along the way. What does matter is that after a reasonable period of discussion each group moves from adopting a theme and drafting a plot to planning out the scenes. In the first class that I taught this lesson to the need for additional structure and organization came across loud and clear, which is why I asked everyone to stop and presented each group with this worksheet. Some thoughts on its use appear below and a few samples of completed theme development worksheets are available here.