Planning Advice for the Arts Teacher

Lesson plans for arts educators teaching dramatic arts and creative writing. 

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One Act Project Day One: Getting Into the Writing Spirit 


Blog posting on this class available in the Thoughts section.


Learning Goal: We will examine how Aristotle's Three Unities and the fundamental aspects of playwriting can help develop original stories. 

Success Criteria:  I know I am success if I...

  • engage in all stages of the writing process, including generating ideas, following prompts, and sharing my work;
  • articulate and explain Aristotle's Three Unities and the "play recipe";
  • work together with my peers, experimenting and designing a play structure using the concepts studied in class; 
  • accept, support, and positively respond to my group's ideas in a professional and respect manner (even when I disagree....). 

Minds On (15 Minutes): 2 Different Free Writing/Stream of Consciousness Prompts with Sharing 

  • explaining free writing/stream of consciousness writing, encouraging students to not stop writing during the free writing/stream of conscious writing session, even when they are stuck (instead write “I don’t know over and over again”), encouraging a freedom to write by turning of the “negative voice” (i.e., “this is spelled wrong” or “the idea isn’t working”);
  • round one prompt: what has happened in your day so far;
  • circle three words/phrases and share in group discussion (one student after another);
  • round two prompt: pick one of the phrases to build off of and write about in great detail.  Examine and explore that phrase, building on the phrase (i.e. use all of the senses to describe the words in your phrase);  
  • circle three words/phrases and share in group discussion (one student after another)

The actual writing sessions were three minutes in length.  We asked each other to respect focus in the studio space and to be silent during the writing session.  Before each writing round,  I encouraged the students to talk to each other for a minute about anything they wanted.  This helps with the silence during the actual writing portion. 

Action (35 Minutes): Aristotle’s Poetics, Three Unities, Story Structure 

  • discussion about Aristotle, Poetics, Three Unities (Action, Time and Place), and the necessary elements of a story;
  • in groups of four, brainstorming possible plot lines that would fit the Three Unities in a secondary school setting.  Each group is encouraged to create ten plot lines; 
  • sharing of plot lines;
  • play recipe discussion (super-objective, exposition, character, language, conflict, obstacles, stakes, resolution) 

Consolidation (25 Minutes): Collaborative Playwriting Using the Elements Studied in Class

  • students pick one plot line from the previous brainstorming activity;
  • develop the plot using the elements from the play recipe discussion 
  • share in the larger group