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Online Learning: Lesson Plan Nuggets

The following links to online content have been pre-tested for you to determine the quality of their content by EdTA staff or EdTA members.  We can speak from experience when we say they make great lesson plan nuggets for building online learning.  Each link comes with a suggestion for a standards based learning activity, and all of the links are sorted for you through the lens of the five areas of the Theatre Model Curriculum Framework.  Stop back often as this list grows regularly!

Acting and Performance

Preparing a Role with Hector Elizondo

In this series of videos from Joy2Learn, actor Hector Elizondo discusses steps in preparing a role by sharing 4 different monologue performances from 4 very different plays, followed by an in depth analysis of the important considerations for preparing that role.  Topics include understanding the play, the importance of script analysis, an actor's tools, use of language, and emotional memory.  Combine these videos with a series of lessons leading up to the creation of a monologue performance video. See updates on EdTA's website for licensing agents and authors who have provided permission for use of their scripts for educational purposes to allow for online sharing of performances. 

Suggested Standards Links: 

HS Proficient
TH:Cr1.1.I.a.  Use script analysis to generate ideas about a character that is believable and authentic in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Cr3.1.I.b. Explore physical, vocal and physiological choices to develop a performance that is believable, authentic, and relevant to a drama/theatre work.
TH:Pr6.1.I.a. Perform a scripted drama/theatre work for a specific audience. 

HS Accomplished
TH:Cr1.1.II.a. Use personal experiences and knowledge to develop a character that is believable and authentic in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Cr3.1.II.b. Use research and script analysis to revise physical, vocal and physiological choices impacting the believabilty and relevance of a drama/theatre work.
TH:Pr6.1.II.a. Present a drama/theatre work using creative processes that shape the production for a specific audience.

HS Advanced (modify the lesson)
TH:Cr1.1.III.a. Integrate cultural and historical contexts with personal experiences to create a character that is believable and authentic in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Cr3.1.III.b. Synthesize ideas from research, script analysis, and context to create a performance that is believable, authentic, and relevant in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Pr6.1.III.a. Present a drama/theatre production for a specific audience that employs research and analysis grounded in the creative perspectives of the playwright, director, designer, and dramaturg.


Headspace Theatre

This article from Teaching Theatre magazine, written by playwright Michael Dixon, provides all that you need to create a lesson for creating and performing monologues in a unique way. Each actor must use only their head, and the performance must happen in a box. Translates beautifully to the small space and restricted views of each other in virtual meeting spaces. A great exercise for the more experienced actors.

Suggested Standards Links:

HS Accomplished
TH:Cr1.1.II.a. Use personal experiences and knowledge to develop a character that is believable and authentic in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Cr3.1.II.b. Use research and script analysis to revise physical, vocal and physiological choices impacting the believabilty and relevance of a drama/theatre work.


Disney's The Lion King Experience: At Home

The Lion King Experience KIDS (11 sessions designed for ages 8-11)
The Lion King Experience JR. (18 sessions designed for ages 12-15)

Disney Theatrical Productions is offering a free, virtually accessible version of its The Lion King Experience. The web-based curriculum can be used for a remote classroom and for students to use independently at home. For each lesson, have your class watch the video together, then participate as a class in the explore section to reinforce learning from the video. Then ask students to complete the task included in the create section independently at home. Students can share and reflect on their work individually or as a class. The Lion King Experience website also includes assessment tools, facilitation tips, alignment with national standards for every session.

Suggested Standards Links:

Grade 3
TH:Cr2.1.3.b.  Compare ideas with peers and make selections that will enhance and deepen group drama/theatre work.
TH:Pr5.1.3.a.  Participate in a variety of physical, vocal, and cognitive exercises that can be used in a group setting for drama/theatre work.
TH:Cn10.1.3.a.  Use personal experiences and knowledge to make connections to community and culture in a drama/theatre work.

Grade 4
TH:Cr2.1.4.b.  Make and discuss group decisions and identify responsibilities required to present a drama/theatre work to peers.
TH:Pr5.1.4.a.  Practice selected exercises that can be used in a group setting for drama/theatre work.
TH:Cn10.1.4.a.  Identify the ways drama/theatre work reflects the perspectives of a community or culture.

Grade 5
TH:Cr2.1.5.b.  Participate in defined responsibilities required to present a drama/theatre work informally to an audience.
TH:Pr5.1.5.a.  Choose acting exercises that can be applied to a drama/theatre work.
TH:Cn10.1.5.a.  Explain how drama/theatre connects oneself to a community or culture.

Grade 6
TH:Cr2.1.6.b.  Contribute ideas and accept and incorporate the ideas of others in preparing or devising drama/theatre work.
TH:Pr5.1.6.a.  Recognize how acting exercises and techniques can be applied to a drama/theatre work.
TH:Cn10.1.6.a.  Explain how the actions and motivations of characters in a drama/theatre work impact perspectives of a community or culture.

Grade 7
TH:Cr2.1.7.b.  Demonstrate mutual respect for self and others and their roles in preparing or devising drama/theatre work.
TH:Pr5.1.7.a.  Participate in a variety of acting exercises and techniques that can be applied in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.
TH:Cn10.1.7.a.  Incorporate multiple perspectives and diverse community ideas in a drama/theatre work.

Grade 8
TH:Cr2.1.8.b.  Share leadership and responsibilities to develop collaborative goals when preparing or devising drama/theatre work.
TH:Pr5.1.8.a.  Use a variety of acting techniques to increase skills in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.
TH:Cn10.1.8.a.  Examine a community issue through multiple perspectives in a drama/theatre work.

Designing and Technical Theatre

Working In The Theatre: Jobs

YouTube playlist of 47 videos highlighting different roles in theatre. Assign your students the task of reviewing all of the videos, then choosing one or two career paths that appeal to them for a reflection paper Get a head start on next year's productions by asking them to pitch a plan for how they might fill this role as a member of your production team.

Suggested Standards Link:

HS Accomplished
TH:Cn11.2.II.a. Research how other theatre artists apply creative processes to tell stories in a devised or scripted drama/theatre work, using theatre research methods.


Virtual Lighting Design

Virtual Lighting Lab - Virtual tool created by Scenic and lighting designer Matt Kizer that allows students to experiment with stage lighting and learn the basic principles of lighting with virtual tools. Virtual gobo is a highlight! See TE Pro's "Click to Teach: Virtual Lighting Design" lesson plan on lighting to use with students; or provide a specific prompt such as "light two actors in clear white light" and have students experiment with the tool and submit a screenshot for you to grade.

Supplemental video: Science and Magic: Illuminating the Stage with Lighting Design  - This video explains the functions and Qualities of Lighting Design

Suggested Standards Links:

HS Proficient
TH:Cr1.1.I.b. Explore the impact of technology on design choices in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Re9.1.I.b. Consider the aesthetics of the production elements in a drama/theatre work.

Writing

Writing or Devising Work

Rosa Parks Monologues - Using Primary Source Papers

Library of Congress: Explore primary resources at the Library of Congress as creative stimulus for original student monologues.  - Assign your students the task of burrowing through Rosa Parks' original letters, all stored electronically at the Library of Congress, and then create a monologue in her voice.  

Suggested Standards Links:

HS Proficient
TH:Cr3.1.1.I.a. Practice and revise a devised or scripted drama/theatre work using theatrical staging conventions.

HS Accomplished
TH:Cr2.1.1.II.a. Refine a dramatic concept to demonstrate a critical understanding of historical and cultural influences of original ideas applied to a drama/theatre work.

HS Advanced
TH:Cr2.1.1.IIIa. Develop and synthesize original ideas in a drama/theatre work utilizing critical analysis, historical and cultural context, research and western or non-western theatre traditions. 

 

Writing Your Own Musical

Teach a unit on Musical Theatre and have the students create and  their own musical!  Watch the TE-Pro webinar "Writing Your Own Musical" for a step by step guide.  Includes prepared lesson notes, handouts and PowerPoints for instruction for this five week unit.

Suggested Standards Links:

HS Proficient
TH:Cr2.1.I.a. Explore the function of history and culture in the development of a dramatic concept through a critical analysis of original ideas in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Re8.1.I.a.  Analyze and compare artistic choices developed from personal experiences in multiple drama/theatre works. 

HS Accomplished
TH:Cr2.1.II.a. Refine a dramatic concept to demonstrate a critical understanding of historical and cultural influences of original ideas applied to a drama/theatre work.
TH:Re8.1.II.a. Develop supporting evidence and criteria to reinforce artistic choices when participating in or observing a drama/theatre work.  

HS Advanced
TH:Cr2.1.III.a. Develop and synthesize original ideas in a drama/theatre work utilizing critical analysis, historical and cultural context, research, and western or non western theatre traditions.
TH:Re8.1.III.a. Use detailed supporting evidence and appropriate criteria to revise personal work and interpret the work of others when participating in or observing a drama/theatre work.


Responding to Plays

Playbill’s list of 15 Broadway Plays and Musical You Can Watch on Stage From Home

Assign your students the task of watching a play online and responding.  Combine this with a requirement to critically review the performance using these tips from the writing center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

Suggested Standards Link:

HS Proficient
TH:Re9.1.I.a. Examine a drama/theatre work using supporting evidence and criteria while considering art forms, history, culture and other disciplines. 

Producing and Directing

The Role of the Director & the Producer

Have students the following two articles as an introduction to the role of the director and the role of the producer.

Then, ask students to read the following list of 29 Broadway Power Players Actors Should Know, and ask them to pick one director or producer off the list to research - there are 11 directors and 5 producers to choose from.

Ask students to create a presentation on their chosen director or producer showcasing why they were included on the list of Power Players. Students can create a narrated slideshow presentation with Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic.

Suggested Standards Link:

High School Accomplished
TH:Cn11.2.II.a. Research how other theatre artists apply creative processes to tell stories in a devised or scripted drama/theatre work, using theatre research methods.


Directing - A Model Cornerstone Assessment Unit on TE-Pro

Combine a lesson on directing pulled from this Model Cornerstone Assessment Unit with a challenge for students - either to demonstrate blocking using objects from their home on a floor plan OR to direct family members performing a nursery rhyme.  A wonderful lesson on blocking can be found here on Dramatics.org: Blocking 101.  A fun video on directing first time actors can be found here: How To Direct Actors: Working With Non Actors

Suggested Standards Link:

High School Accomplished
TH:Pr6.1.II.a. Present a drama/theatre work using creative processes that shape a production for a specific audience.


Blocking

Ask students to read the article “Theatre Blocking 101” on dramatics.org. Provide students with a script and ask them to think like a director and create blocking notes in the script. (Check out the Play Analysis for Musical Theatre Model Cornerstone Assessment on TE Pro for examples of student work). Then, ask students to reflect on their choices and explain why they chose to block a scene in a certain way. What elements from the article did they apply to their blocking?  For free scripts, check out the following:

Suggested Standards Link:

High School Proficient
TH:Re7.1.I.a. Respond to what is seen, felt, and heard in a drama/theatre work to develop criteria for artistic choices.


Shadow Puppet Production

Ask each student to watch the video with a parent or guardian and have them work together to build a shadow puppet theatre and puppets for their show. Ask each student to direct their family in a shadow puppet production of a fairytale or another story. Have them record the performance and share with the teacher and/or class. Then ask each student to reflect - what did they do as the director? What was their favorite part of directing the show?

Suggested Standards Links:

Grade K
TH:Cr1.1.K.b. With prompting and support, use nonrepresentational materials to create props, puppets, and costume pieces for dramatic play or a guided drama experience.

Grade 1
TH:Cr3.1.1.a. Contribute to the adaptation of the plot in a guided drama experience.

Grade 2
TH:Pr4.1.2.a. Interpret story elements in a guided drama experience.
TH:Pr6.1.2.a. Contribute to group guided drama experiences and informally share with peers. 

Grade 3
TH:Cr3.1.3.c. Practice and refine design and technical choices to support a devised or scripted drama/theatre work. 
TH:Pr6.1.3.a. Practice drama/theatre work and share reflections individually and in small groups. 

Grade 4
TH:Cr1.1.4.b. Visualize and design technical elements that support the story and given circumstances in a drama/theatre work.

Dramaturgy and Theatre History

11 Stages Around the World from Google

Experience a Virtual Tour of several famous stages around the world. Makes a great connection to a theatre history unit. Assign students a research project in which they explore these stages, choose one for deeper research, and create a cardboard model and brief research paper to share their learning.

Suggested Standards Link:

HS Proficient
TH:Re9.1.I.b. Consider the aesthetics of the production elements in a drama/theatre work.


History of Theatre

Kentucky Educational Television provides this great video resource. Includes prepared discussion questions and suggestions for background reading. Use the discussion questions as assigned homework to be graded.

Suggested Standards Links:

HS Proficient
TH:Re9.1.I.b. Consider the aesthetics of the production elements in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Cn11.1.I.a. Investigate how cultural perspectives, community ideas and personal beliefs impact a drama/theatre work.  


Greek Theatre

An Introduction to Greek Theatre - video from the National Theatre gives an overview of Greek theatre
Introduction to Greek Chorus - video from the National Theatre introduces the function of the Greek chorus
Styles for Theatre: Greek Chorus  - video from the University of Michigan demonstrates Greek chorus in action - notable for movement, vocal and sound choices
Creating Chorus - video on choral work/physicality from the National Theatre, helps define the elements of choral movement (challenge your students- can they create a Greek chorus remotely using Zoom?)
Women in Greek Theatre - video from the National Theatre discusses the role of women in ancient theater
Introduction to Greek Tragedy - video from the National Theatre offers an introduction to Greek tragedy

Use single videos as a research assignment with a reflection component to assess learning or combine all of the videos (roughly 2 hours of screen time) into a more in depth look at Greek theatre. Get creative with the assessment by asking students to film themselves performing a Greek choral piece. Using zoom or other online meeting tools can even turn this into a group assignment - with one student as chorus leader and the others performing in a call and response.

Suggested Standard Link:

HS Proficient
TH:Cn11.1.I.a. Investigate how cultural perspectives, community ideas and personal beliefs impact a drama/theatre work.  


Roman Theatre

Fabula Atellana - Encylopedia Britannica online definition

Ask students to do additional research as needed on the following stock characters:

  • Maccus - The mischievous trouble maker - the clown who advances the plot
  • Baccus - (little Fat Cheeks) The simpleton whom Maccus blames for his misdoings
  • Pappus, the old fool or know-it-all who actually knows nothing
  • Dossennus, whose name has been taken to mean “Hunchback”- this character is the only normal one with whom the audience can relate, and they normally solve the conflict
  • Manducus, perhaps meaning “the Glutton” or "Ogre" this character is the rude, crude, and lewd comic.

Meeting remotely students will form small groups and choose a stock character to explore with the end goal of creating and performing an original online play entitled "An Ordinary Day". The play will be about an ordinary day at school that had some extraordinary circumstances told in the format of a news anchor interviewing a series of witnesses or persons involved. Each of the "witnesses" must tell their story as if their chosen stock character was a high school student involved in some way with the happenings of the day (like creating a "teen sitcom"). 

Suggested Standards Links:

HS Proficient
TH:Cr2.1.I.a. Explore the function of history and culture in the development of a dramatic concept through a critical analysis of original ideas in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Cn11.1.I.a. Explore how cultural, global, and historic belief systems affect creative choices in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Pr6.1.I.a. Perform a scripted drama/theatre work for a specific audience.


Renaissance & Commedia dell'Arte

Italian Renaissance & Commedia dell’Arte - A crash course in theatre of the Italian Renaissance and Commedia Dell'Arte.

Suggested Standards Links:

HS Proficient
TH:Re9.1.I.b. Consider the aesthetics of the production elements in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Cn11.1.I.a. Investigate how cultural perspectives, community ideas and personal beliefs impact a drama/theatre work.


The World of Commedia dell'Arte - video from the National Theatre offers an introduction to Commedia.
Commedia dell'Arte Character Shape - video from the National Theatre demonstrates the physicality of Commedia dell'Arte stock characters.
Commedia dell'Arte Showing Emotion - video from the National Theatre demonstrates showing emotions in the highly presentational methods of Commedia. Also useful for encouraging students to try bolder choices as they learn about universal cues to emotion.

Use these three videos as a research assignment with a reflection component to assess learning. Consider asking students to build a model of a Zanni's mask, film themselves moving as one of the stock characters or ask them to produce a PowerPoint teaching others about Commedia as evidence of learning.

Suggested Standards Links:

HS Proficient
TH:Re9.1.I.b. Consider the aesthetics of the production elements in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Cn11.1.I.a. Investigate how cultural perspectives, community ideas and personal beliefs impact a drama/theatre work.  

More EdTA Resources for Creating Online Learning

  • Getting Started   A step by step guide to creating online learning experiences.
  • Tools to Use  Lists of tools that meet your needs for communicating with students, collecting student work, tracking student progress and more.
  • Lesson Plan Nuggets  Ideas for lesson plans that come with a suggestion for how you might link that content to a standards based activity.
  • Click to Teach/Click to Learn  Specially designed lessons suitable for online teaching or student self paced learning; these include everything you need to teach standards based content and measure learning.
  • Theatre in Our Schools K-12  Page published for Theatre in Our Schools Month includes sample lesson plans and curriculum for grades K-12 and valuable curriculum maps to jump start planning at all levels. 
  • Tech Theatre Tooklkit  Series of PowerPoint based lessons by educator B.K. Goodman which make wonderful projects for online learning. 
  • Community Forum  Participants share tips, curriculum and resources in this open community.  
  • Virtual International Thespian Festival Workshops and interactive sessions for students and professional development institutes for teachers. 
  • Dramatics.org  Student friendly resources in an interactive media format.  Check out these highlights sorted by WritingActing and Stage Management