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Fine Arts - Theater Curriculum
Theater - 4th Grade
Course Preface Course Preface
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Core Standards of the Course

Standard 1
Playmaking The student will plan and improvise plays based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history for informal and formal theatre.

Objective 1
Collaborate to select interrelated characters, environments, and situations for classroom dramatizations.

  1. Plan, in small groups, interrelated characters, environments, and situations for a classroom dramatization based on a familiar story and dramatize.
  2. Plan interrelated characters based on specific actions.
    Strategy Example:
    Working in pairs, have one student begin a specific action (throwing a rope out of a boat, rolling on the ground, digging a hole, building a wall, etc.). The second student may enter the improvisation as soon as he/she has at least one way to interrelate to the first student; e.g., pretend to be drowning and grab the rope, cover the person with a blanket as if he/she were on fire, arrest the person digging the hole, and, as a neighbor, complain about the wall being built.
    Strategy Example:
    Dramatize Aesop's Fable The Wind and the Sun and explain in what ways characters, environments, and situations are all interrelated.

Objective 2
Plan and record dialogue and physical attributes for characters in conflict with each other that make sense considering the given circumstances of a specific story or classroom dramatization.

  1. Plan, improvise, and record original dialogue for two characters in conflict.
    Strategy Example:
    Have the students consider the following questions: Who are the characters? What do they want? What is the conflict? When does it take place? Where are they? What makes the situation urgent? How does it get resolved? Now improvise this original scene. Repeat and refine.
  2. Describe, improvise, and record specific and interesting physical attributes that can be observed in real people when they are in conflict with another person.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students keep a journal of character observations. Have them describe, in writing, specific and unique physical mannerisms observed in real people when they are in conflict with others; e.g., one man always keeps pushing his glasses up while closing one eye because conflict makes him perspire, one woman always crosses her arms and twists back and forth while looking up rather than at the other person, someone else's voice goes way up and words get all twisted. In pairs, improvise scenes depicting collected physical mannerisms of people in conflict.

Objective 3
Describe and explain plot structure in terms of beginning, middle, climax, and end. (See Language Arts Core.)

  1. Construct tableaux that represent the beginning, middle, climax, and end of a familiar story.
    Strategy Example:
    In Little Red Riding Hood, the students might choose for the beginning, a scene where Red is about to leave home and Mother is giving her a basket for Grandmother. You may wish to break the class into groups of five or eight and instruct them to find a role for all students in the tableau. Students might take the role of Mother, Red, a basket, a door, a table, etc.
  2. Improvise original stories which include a beginning, middle, climax, and end.
    Strategy Example:
    The students in one group might decide the beginning goes like this: "She opened the closet door and all the clothes were gone! Yet, there was a strange glow coming through the walls." In groups of four, collaborate to decide on a middle, a climax, and an ending. Dramatize it.

Standard 2
Acting A student will cooperate, imagine and assume roles, explore personal preferences and meanings, and interact in classroom dramatizations.

Objective 1
Develop body awareness and spatial perception through movement and pantomime. (See Dance Core.)

  1. Use energy to create the illusion of being very heavy or very light.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students create the illusion of jogging in slow motion. Have them imagine what different changes in condition would do to their body; e.g., heavy weights on their feet, then arms, then waist. Suddenly all weight is gone, and they hardly weigh more than a feather. They float up into the air. Finally, they create the illusion of floating slowly down to earth again. Describe the illusions created.
  2. Use movement to stimulate imagination.
    Strategy Example:
    Individually, then in pairs, threes, and fours, while facing each other holding hands, students are given a five count, with you counting out loud and ending by saying "freeze." Have students explore as many shapes with their whole body as possible.
  3. Pantomime inanimate objects.
    Strategy Example:
    In pairs, have students plan and improvise and then share conflict pantomimes between two inanimate objects; e.g., a pencil and a pencil sharpener might be in conflict because the pencil keeps breaking off its lead tip; a hammer and a nail could be in conflict because the nail keeps bending.
  4. Pantomime slow motion adventures.
    Strategy Example:
    In groups of five, become deep sea divers going down to the sea floor on a dangerous mission. Remember, the focus here is slow motion and physical situations; e.g., freeing a sea creature caught in a trap, disarming a bomb, saving people trapped in an airplane with the air running out, finding gold in a dangerous old ship.

Objective 2
Develop expressive use of the voice.

  1. Use persuasive arguments in a given situation. (See Language Arts Core.)
    Strategy Example:
    In fours, two play parents and two play children. The two children find a lost kitten that has been abandoned. The kitten is wet and crying. The children take the kitten home and try to convince their parents to keep it. The parents have never allowed pets before.
  2. Use vocal tone and pitch to reflect feelings. (See Music Core.)
    Strategy Example:
    Have each student imagine telephoning a friend with a very important message and instructions. The answering machine is on. Leave a message. Use a real tape recorder if possible. Have students discuss how vocal tone and pitch reflect feelings.

Objective 3
Develop emotional recall.

  1. Use emotional recall to act out specific emotional situations.
    Strategy Example:
    Ask the class to help build a list of emotions they all have experienced. Put the list on the board. Have each group of four or five select an emotion. It is OK if different groups select the same emotion. Each group thinks of a situation where the entire group would be feeling this one emotion. Have each group improvise an original scene based on the selected emotion. Others observe and try to understand the connection between the scene and the chosen emotion.
  2. Use emotional recall as motivation to change routine actions.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students pick three different things they do as a rule every morning when they get up; e.g., brush teeth, get dressed, make toast. Now have students pantomime this routine two or three times, each time recalling a different emotional memory from their recent past, such as remembering that the big project for class which is due today is lost, that the class is going on a really fun field trip today, that summer vacation is only six days away and school is getting impossible, that recently a loved pet died, etc. Discuss how recalling specific emotional memories changed or colored the actions in a daily morning routine.

Objective 4
Develop an ability to listen to and observe others before responding in classroom dramatizations.

  1. Create action supportive of someone else's idea.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students observe two students improvising a scene. How could they contribute to the ideas of what is happening in the scene already? Have them enter the scene and join the improvisation; e.g., two students are in-role as pilots trying to land a failing plane, and the two joining actors assume the roles of two airplane mechanics. They ask the pilots how they can best help.
  2. Create tension supportive of someone else's idea.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students observe several students improvising a scene. How could they add tension to the scene that would support the direction it is already going? Have them enter the scene and create tension to support the existing ideas; e.g., if the scene is a group of explorers lost on a strange planet, then joining students might add tension by spotting strange tracks or reporting contact with alien life forms.

Standard 3
Understanding Art Forms The student will compare, connect, and incorporate art forms by describing and analyzing methods of presentation and audience response for theatre and dramatic media, including film, television, electronic media, and other art forms.

Objective 1
Understand the actor-audience relationship in live theatre.

  1. Observe and explain the actor-audience relationship in live theatre.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students attend live theatre. Have students closely observe the relationship between the actor and the audience. How does this relationship affect the faces and bodies of other audience members? Can one observe any effect on the actors in response to the audience? Have students discuss what these observations of the actor-audience relationship mean in terms of quality live theatre.
  2. Observe and identify levels of audience etiquette.
    Strategy Example:
    Have the students attend live theatre. Have the students closely observe theatre etiquette. Create a list of specific behaviors that help identify excellent, good, fair, and poor levels of audience etiquette.

Objective 2
Understand the use of visual, aural, oral, and kinetic elements to create and support mood in live theatre. (See Visual Arts Core.)

  1. Identify visual, aural, oral, and kinetic elements and explain how some or all of them are used to create and/or support mood in live theatre.
    Strategy Example:
    Have the students attend live theatre. Have them identify the major moods presented in the play. Observe closely and explain how some or all of the elements were used to create and/or support mood in the live theatre production.
  2. Identify visual, aural, oral, and kinetic elements and explain how their use to create and/or support mood in feature films is similar to or different from their use for the same purpose in live theatre.
    Strategy Example:
    Have the students attend the same feature film or watch the same feature film on video. Observe closely and explain how the two arts forms are similar and different in their use of the elements to create and/or support mood.

Standard 4
Analyzing and Constructing Meanings The student will explain personal preferences and construct meanings by responding to improvised and scripted scenes and to theatre, film, television, and other electronic media productions.

Objective 1
Analyze and explain how the wants and needs of characters in a dramatic presentation are similar to and different from one's own wants and needs in real life. (See Language Arts Core.)

  1. Identify the main objective of the protagonist in a dramatic presentation and discuss any connections to one's own life.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students read a play and identify the protagonist's main objective. Then discuss the character's wants and needs driving this main objective and compare them to one's own wants and needs in real life. How many share a similar main objective? How many share similar wants and needs but not the main objective?
  2. Identify the major conflict that prevents the protagonist from immediately achieving the main objective and discuss any connections to one's own life.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students read a play and identify the protagonist's main objective. Then identify and discuss the major conflict preventing the protagonist from achieving the main objective. Ask students to discuss any connections to their own lives. Anyone have a similar conflict blocking an objective? Know anyone who does?

Objective 2
Analyze and critique dramatic presentations using appropriate terminology and constructive suggestions with the intent to refine the work.

  1. Suggest ideas for improving an informal theatre piece from the viewpoint of a critic.
    Strategy Example:
    Have half of the class observe the other half present an informal theatre piece. Have the observers, in pairs, discuss and write down one idea for improving the piece using appropriate terminology and constructive language. Compare these suggestions with the suggestions of the performers.
  2. Suggest ideas for improving an informal theatre piece from the viewpoint of an actor.
    Strategy Example:
    After the performance, have the performers of the piece, in pairs, discuss and write down one idea for improving the piece using appropriate terminology and constructive language. Compare these suggestions with the suggestions of the observers.

Objective 3
Analyze and explain emotional responses to and personal preferences about informal and formal theatre experiences from the viewpoints of both performer and audience.

  1. Identify and explain moments of pathos in live theatre.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students attend live theatre. Have them identify and articulate moments in the production where feelings of sympathy and tenderness were aroused within them as a result of a character's suffering or condition. For example, in Charlotte's Web, the scene where Charlotte tells Wilbur she is going to die and asks him to watch over her children would be considered a strong moment of pathos in the play.
  2. Identify and articulate moments or ideas of strong liking and disliking in live theatre.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students attend live theatre. Have them identify and articulate personal preferences in the production. These articulated likes and dislikes should be in response to the script, the performers, the technical aspects of design supporting the production, or the live theatre experience as a whole.

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