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Fine Arts - Theater Curriculum
Theater - 6th 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 that create tension and suspense for informal and formal theatre.

  1. Plan, in small groups, interrelated characters, environments, and situations that create tension and suspense based on world history and dramatize. (See Social Studies Core.)
    Strategy Example:

    Departure question: Can students better understand the Holocaust if they explore this history through drama? Select one situation to become a metaphor for understanding the Holocaust; e.g., a daring POW escape during the very last days of WWII.
    The dramatic question: Should the prisoners gamble on being liberated or take a big risk and try to escape? Everyone knew it was all go or none. With Nazi soldiers running off every day, security was greatly reduced. Perhaps the evil camp commandant would kill them all to prevent escape or liberation. Perhaps he would run off himself. With many prison camps closing, prisoners from many countries and many backgrounds were thrown together in one camp or another. Given all they had survived, could they even come to a consensus? In fact, they did and they escaped. Hence, the focus is really an exploration of how people in a crisis arrived at such a very difficult group decision.
    Divide students into mantle of the expert groups. Each group selects a specific group of POWs to research (Jewish citizens, American military, Nazi military, Russian military, French underground, Red Cross, etc.). Break the dramatization into several scenes; e.g., POWs arriving at prison camp, once in barracks they organize, parade ground line-up and threats from the commandant, to escape or not to escape, escape planning, escape, liberation. Have students write response papers to read to the class. Have them articulate how and what they were able to learn through drama.
  2. Recognize how themes help interrelate characters, environments, and situations.
    Strategy Example:
    In groups of five, collaborate to plan an original scene based on an agreed upon theme; e.g., "honesty is the best policy" or "say NO to drugs" or "don't judge a book by its cover" or "give me shelter" or "power to the people." Have students explain how themes helped interrelate characters, environments, and situations.

Objective 2
Plan dialogue and physical attributes focusing on characterization for informal and formal theatre.

  1. Plan and improvise dialogue and physical attributes for a character based on real individuals considered to be "world leaders" in the 20th century.
    Strategy Example:
    Do in-depth background study on a world leader from the 20th century. In groups of five, choose one famous individual per group to portray. Hold a press conference. The world leader from each group will join a panel and be interviewed together by the rest of the class acting as reporters. Have the reporters ask questions about solutions to current big problems in the world. Later, mix them together in groups and repeat interview scene. Allow for argument among the characters.
  2. Plan and write dialogue and physical attributes for an original character based on an interesting photograph of a human face. (See Language Arts Core.)
    Strategy Example:
    Individually, write a monologue for this character that includes parenthetical descriptions of physical attributes and actions that take place during the monologue. Have students exchange monologues so they may rehearse and perform the original monologues.

Objective 3
Collaborate to create and improvise a short play that demonstrates an understanding of plot elements. (See Language Arts Core.)

  1. Incorporate traditional plot elements into an original short play.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students review traditional plot elements; e.g., incident, exposition, major conflict/problem, complications, climax, loose ends/ending. Have them, in small groups, create a short original play that includes all the traditional plot elements. When groups share these short original plays with the class, have observing students identify all traditional plot elements.
  2. Write a short one-act play. (See Language Arts Core.)
    Strategy Example:
    Have students write a plot outline for a short one-act adventure comedy; e.g., "Sport the Mosquito Draws First Blood" or "Misty the Moth Sees the Light" or "Chip Risks It All Without Net." Have students offer feedback and ideas for each outline. Each student now writes a short one-act adventure comedy.

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 the quality of movement to reveal a character.
    Strategy Example:
    Ask students to open and close their hands as they walk about the room randomly. Expand this exercise to include legs, face, and the entire body. Ask them to move about while maintaining either an open or closed position. While they are moving, side coach them. Have them think about what kind of person might be open or closed. What kind of mood is this person in today? Ask them to say "Hello" to others as they pass.
  2. Interpret color through movement. (See Visual Arts Core.)
    Strategy Example:
    Assign a color to each group of four or five or allow them to choose their own color. Ask each group to interpret their color the way they want; e.g., perhaps they connect red with fire and build a concrete scene around a fire, or perhaps they abstractly become the fire. Each group shares its constructed meaning with the class.
  3. Pantomime being in a specific place.
    Strategy Example:
    Play the Where Game. The class sits in one large circle. One student begins the game by entering the circle and pantomiming an action that clarifies the "where" of the scene. When others believe they know the "where," they may enter the scene and help build it. Eventually, all students enter the scene, and the entire room transforms into the "where."
  4. Pantomime being in a specific place that keeps changing to a new specific place.
    Strategy Example:
    Play the Where Game again. This time you have the option to secretly send a student into the scene with instructions to begin a new action that transforms the scene into a new place; e.g., from a hospital operation room to a deep sea science lab. As others become aware of the change, the scene transforms.

Objective 2
Develop expressive use of the voice.

  1. Use gibberish to communicate feelings through vocal tone, pitch, volume, and rate of speech.
    Strategy Example:
    Working in threes, place all students in a large circle. Using gibberish that sounds like a common language, one team enters the circle and begins to improvise a scene where three characters are faced with an urgent problem to solve; e.g., lost in the mountains, adrift at sea. On the teacher's signal, a second team enters the scene. Using the gibberish established by the first team, the second team helps solve the problem. Repeat the activity using other teams and new gibberish.
  2. Use persuasive arguments and active listening in a dramatic situation. (See Language Arts Core.)
    Strategy Example:
    In pairs, stand back-to-back and do not touch or see each other. Improvise a phone conversation between a parent and a young person. The child has just walked to the store to get some milk for breakfast. The time is 8 p.m. and the store is only one block away in a good neighborhood. Six hours pass and it is now 2 a.m. The parent is worried sick and the police have been alerted. The phone rings and it's the child calling from somewhere with a true but very wild story to tell. You say, "ring, ring, ring" to begin the scene. Discuss the success of the child's persuasive argument, and then discuss the importance of active listening skills in this scene.

Objective 3
Develop emotional recall in characterization.

  1. Use emotional recall to express a character's passion about an issue.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students think of an adult character they know who is very passionate about an issue in life. Have them create one sentence that concisely states this passionate belief. Have other students argue against this belief. Discuss with the students where the emotional recall came from; e.g., did it come from one's memory of the passionate adult, did it come from one's identifying with the passion expressed by that adult, or did it come from an agreement with that adult's passionate belief?
  2. Use emotional recall to create an inner dialogue for a character.
    Strategy Example:
    While pantomiming a common daily morning routine, have students speak out loud the inner dialogue that might be going on in their heads. Have students base their inner dialogue on something that they tend to worry about in real life; e.g., "I can't believe I lost my big project ... the one time I had something done on time so far this year ... I'll just tell the teacher the truth and ... wrong ... she'll just say it is another excuse like the other times ... then she'll give me a failing grade ... maybe I'll just drop the class!"

Objective 4
Develop an ability to work in ensemble when working in informal and formal theatre.

  1. Work in ensemble when preparing a group performance.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students reflect on and discuss their ability to work as complementary parts contributing to a single whole preparing to perform. Make suggestions for improving ensemble.
  2. Work in ensemble when performing a group performance.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students reflect on and discuss their ability to work as complementary parts contributing to a single whole or performance. Make suggestions for improving ensemble.

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 unique relationship between the audience and the performing arts.

  1. Observe and explain the impact of an audience on artistic outcome in the performing arts.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students attend at least one performing arts event were they are able to interview live performers following the event; e.g., plays, musicals, operas, dance concerts, pop music concerts, symphony orchestras. What do the performers believe the relationship is between an audience and the quality of a performance on any given day? Can the performers offer any concrete examples? How do the performers take this issue into account during the rehearsal process? During the performance run? How does the audience figure into a performer's vision of the best possible outcome of a performance?
  2. Plan and explain ways audience etiquette can extend beyond the performing arts event.
    Strategy Example:
    A week or so before attending a performing arts event, have students brainstorm and plan ways to demonstrate audience etiquette before and after the actual event takes place. Before-event ideas might include reading the play to improve understanding and interest, listening to the music, discussing the background of the playwright, composer, creator, etc. After-event ideas might include interviewing the performers, attending post-event question-and-answer sessions, writing comments to the performers, writing a review, etc.

Objective 2
Understand the use of visual, aural, oral, and kinetic elements to express ideas and emotions across the performing arts. (See Visual Arts Core.)

  1. Identify visual, aural, oral, and kinetic elements and explain how they are used to express ideas and emotions in a performing arts event.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students attend a performing arts event. Have them focus on understanding how visual, aural, oral, and kinetic elements help express ideas and emotions in the performing arts event; e.g., in To Kill A Mockingbird, a lightning flash reveals the larger-than-life shadow of Bo standing in the window reinforcing Scout's fear of Bo; in Bridge to Terabithia, the sound of the crows crowing gives Leslie the idea to pretend the goblins are attacking, and she tells Jess to pick up his sword and protect the stronghold; in Romeo and Juliet, the musicians at the dance just happen to begin playing romantic music as the lovers' eyes meet for the first time.
  2. Identify visual, aural, oral, and kinetic elements and explain how they are used to express ideas and emotions in television.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students watch specific television ads. Have students identify visual, aural, oral, and kinetic elements and explain how they are used in television commercials to sell products. What emotions are advertisers trying to evoke in the viewers? Why? What ideas are being expressed? What does the term emotional association mean in advertising? Identify and explain examples of emotional associations in television commercials. Articulate the idea the advertiser wants to communicate in specific ads. Why does emotional association work in advertising? Does it work in the performing arts?

Objective 3
Select and integrate dance, music, and theatre equally in an original dramatic presentation. (See Dance and Music Cores.)

  1. Plan and integrate dance, music, and theatre equally in an original performance piece.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students plan and perform an original performance piece in which dance, music, and theatre share equal focus; e.g., a piece that studies the life of young Mozart. Students could present a ballet revealing the painful loneliness in his childhood. Music could tell the amazing gifted side of his youth. And, theatre could explore the kinds of relationships he had with family members, especially his very strict father.
  2. Plan and subordinate dance, music, and theatre equally in the service of one another in an original performance piece.
    Strategy Example:
    Continue to develop the original piece created in the above indicator. Always find ways to support the focused art form by subordinating the other two in support of it. Perform the piece again.

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 electronic media productions.

Objective 1
Analyze and explain how the world of the play, with its own identity, conflicts, and problems, is similar to and different from one's own world in real life.

  1. Identify and explain the similarities and differences between the play's world and one's own world.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students read a play and write a list with two columns. One column will list the similarities between the play's world and the students' world. The other column will list the differences between the play's world and the students' world. Consider many kinds of possible connections to one's own world; e.g., moods, attitudes, occupations, feelings and emotions, conflicts, friendships, wants and needs, endings.
  2. Identify and describe real life omissions left out of the play's world.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students read a play and write a list of what real life things are left out that our own worlds deal with every day. Discuss several reasons as to why the things appearing on the lists do not appear in the play's world. Are there any things on the list that should appear in the play's world? Explain.

Objective 2
Describe and critique the perceived effectiveness of students' contributions to the collaborative process of developing dramatic presentations for informal and formal theatre. (See Language Arts Core.)

  1. Suggest ideas for improving student effectiveness in planning and playing dramatic presentations.
    Strategy Example:
    After completing a classroom dramatization or a theatre production, have students, individually, write constructive evaluations addressing the perceived effectiveness of the overall process. Ask them to use appropriate theatre terminology and make useful suggestions for improvement. Remember, quality art is in the details.
  2. Suggest ideas for improving artistic quality in classroom dramatiza- tions and student productions.
    Strategy Example:
    After a classroom dramatization or student production, have all the students meet within a few days for a postmortem session. This is an opportunity for students and teachers to openly and constructively discuss the process and make suggestions for improvement. Make a list of specific things the participants believe will help improve artistic quality. Discuss each recommendation openly in the session.

Objective 3
Analyze and critique the constructed meanings in a play. (See Dance, Music, Language Arts, and Visual Arts Cores.)

  1. Identify and explain the constructed meaning of a play, including consideration of individual emotional responses, likes, and dislikes.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students attend live theatre. Individually, have them write a short paper identifying and defending meanings constructed by the play, as interpreted from their own viewpoint after having experienced the play live.
  2. Read and explain a review written by a drama critic.
    Strategy Example:
    Have students, individually, locate a review of a play. If possible, it should be the review of a play the student has also seen live. Have students share their own opinions about both the play and whether or not they are in agreement with the viewpoint of the drama critic. Encourage the students to send their own reviews to the drama critic for consideration.

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