Beginning: Collaborating and Sharing Ideas Through Tableau
This unit plan was revised from the Ontario Ministry of Education Course Profiles written in 1999.
Students are introduced to each other through energetic co-operative games and exercises that build confidence, encourage risk-taking, foster self-awareness and cultivate collaboration. Class expectations, routines and conventions are established. The convention and technique of Tableau is introduced, explored and utilized. This unit could be used as an introduction for Grade 9 or a review for Grade 10. The unit could also be used to review tableau or introduce the notion of universals in drama especially through the “Cycle of Life” Tableaux Activity.
- Build positive class relationships
- Identify and use safe drama practices such as collaboration, respect for self, the work and others, personal space and personal safety
- Use collaboration to develop dramatic character and shape the action in group presentation
- Identify and use drama forms such as storytelling, tableau, transitions, movement
- Reflect on and evaluate their own and other’s work through discussion, journal writing
- Identify knowledge and skills in drama.
Assessment as Learning
Understanding is checked through reflection, rubrics, summary , application (e.g. student journals and writing, discussion, exit cards etc.
Assessment for Learning
Is done throughout each unit through conferences, anecdotal comments, checklists, rubrics
Assessment of Learning
Rubrics and checklists are attached to be used at the end of the unit for formal assessment
It is helpful to use a variety of strategies to assist all learners e.g. linguistic and non linguistic at the same time e.g. give oral instructions AND write them on the board. Provide students with choice and incorporate a variety of groupings.
- Accommodations, and sensitivity to differences of all kinds is essential for an equitable drama classroom environment and are reflected in this unit:
- ELL and/or special needs students may be buddied with another student to scribe or given the option to draw their ideas, tape them, or write in their own language
- Physically challenged students can always be accommodated (e.g., the students can move to form a group by grouping around the student in a wheelchair, or participate in Tableaux using upper body movement.
- If contact is a concern, students may stand in a group or reach without touching in tableau, as a religious accommodation. Female students can also be grouped together in same gender groups, as a religious accommodation.
- Chart paper
- markers, pens
- lined paper
- masking tape
- student journals
Note: Sources such as literature, the internet, newspapers, magazines, film, recordings (sound, music, video), primary sources (letters, interviews) are often the starting point for drama work. These are readily available and should be connected to the students’ community.
Booth, David. Games For Everyone. Pembroke Publishers Limited, 1986.
Booth, David & Charles Lundy. Improvisation, Learning Through Drama. Harcourt Brace Jananovich , 1985.
Boal, Augusto. Games For Actors and Non-Actors. Routledge, 1992.
Neelands, Jonothan. Beginning Drama 11-14. David Fulton, 1997.
Swartz, Larry. The New Dramathemes. Pembroke Publishers, 2002.
Minds On/Warm Up (Approximately 15 minutes)
Whole Class > The Name Circle
- Students form a large circle, either sitting on chairs or on the floor. A student begins by looking to the left or right and making eye contact with the person beside them and stating, “I am Mary”. The next student maintains eye contact and states, “This is Mary, I am Tom”. The students continue in this pattern until the circle is completed.
- Instruct the students to reverse the process and allow student volunteers the opportunity to move around the circle and identify their fellow students.
- Variation – Students sit in a circle as above. The student to the left of the teacher states her name “Mary”. The student to the immediate left of Mary states Mary’s name and then gives their name “Tom”. The next student to the left of Tom says “Mary, Tom” and then gives their name “Rebecca”.
- This pattern is repeated all the way around the circle. If a student cannot remember the name of someone in the circle they must look at the person and ask them for their name. The game continues to the left all the way around the circle until it comes to the teacher. The teacher is the last person to name all the students in the circle and then may wish to give their given name or surname.
Whole class > Moving Names
- Standing in a circle, one by one, students call out their name and make a movement or gesture such as stomping, waving their hands, or shaking their legs, etc.
- Once presented everyone in the circle repeats the name and movement until each student in the circle has had a turn. Shuffle and reorganize the circle and repeat.
- Shuffle and reorganize the circle and ask the students once again to individually go around the circle and call out their name in a dramatic manner (e.g., angry, happy, sad, quietly, etc.) using alliteration (e.g., Cute Cathy, Athletic Alex, Pretty Paula, etc.)
- Once presented by the student, the group immediately repeats the dramatization and alliteration. The game continues until everyone in the circle, including the teacher has presented their name.
Action/Activities (Approximately 45 minutes)
Pairs > Changes
- Ask the students to find a partner and stand in two lines facing their partner. Instruct the students to closely observe their partner. After a minute or so instruct the students to turn their back to their partner and change two things about their appearance (e.g., take off a watch, roll up a sleeve, undo a shoelace). After thirty seconds the students turn back and face their partner, identifying what changes have been made.
- Without undoing the changes, students are asked to turn their backs to each other once again. While their backs are turned, the students must change two new things about their appearance. Again, after thirty seconds has passed, the students turn back and face their partner, identifying what changes have been made.
- Depending upon the success of how well students have been able to identify the changes, the game may continue with an increased number of changes (rather than two changes, three or four) or with students working with new partners.
- Discuss the game with the students, the challenges of observation and why keen observation is important in drama.
Pairs/Whole Class > Interviews
- Instruct the students to find new partners and brainstorm questions to ask to learn about a person.
- Using the questions, invite students to interview their partner and learn five new things about their partner that they never knew before.
- Once the interviews are complete the partners sit beside each other in a class circle. The teacher asks each partner to share the information they learned about their partner.
- Once all the students have finished, the teacher shares five things about themselves with the class.
Pairs/Whole Class > Getting To Know You - In Role As…
- Invite the students to select a new partner, someone with whom they have not worked with before.
- Building on the previous activity, instruct the students to learn as much as they can about their partner in five minutes. This time however, when they share the information they’ve learned about their partner, they must assume the role of a family member such as a parent or sibling.
- Following the interviews, instruct the students to come together and sit in a circle with their partners beside them.
- Pair by pair each partner in role introduces the other and shares the information they’ve learned. For example, Partner A starts by saying “This is my brother Eldon” and proceeds in role as Eldon’s brother to describe Partner B. Once Partner A has finished, Partner B starts by saying, “This is my daughter Sara” and proceeds in role as Sara’s mother to describe Partner A.
- Following the interviews ask the students, how was describing your partner in role different from the previous activity? Which did you enjoy more? How did you feel listening to your partner in role describing you?
Consolidation (Approximately 15 minutes)
Assessment for/as Learning
- Invite the students to work in groups of 4 and record on chart paper responses to the following questions:
- What skills are necessary to be successful in drama class? (e.g., listening, co-operation, knowing other people etc.)
- What drama skills did today’s activities practice? (e.g., observation, trust, listening, communication, memorization etc.)
- Students reflect in discussion or writing in a journal entry using the following prompts:
- Describe how you felt when we first gathered as a group today. Did that change over the session? Explain
- Explain why it is important to know everyone’s name in drama class.
Minds On/ Warm Up (Approximately 20 minutes)
Whole class > The Blob
- Direct the students to use the whole space in a large, defined area of the classroom. Designate one student as “It” or The Blob.
- “It” chases the students around the room and the first person they tag must join hands with “It”. The person tagged now becomes “It”. The two of them, now holding hands, chase and tag another student. The third student who is tagged joins hands with the previous “It” and now becomes “It”. As each student is tagged they join the chain of The Blob and become the tagger.
- The game continues until everyone is caught.
Whole class > Thief and Guard
- Invite students to sit in a circle on the floor. Ask a student to volunteer to be the guard and sit cross-legged in the centre of the circle. Instruct the guard to protect the jewel (The teacher’s keys) from a thief who is sitting somewhere in the circle. The keys are placed in front of the guard. The guard is then blindfolded and told to listen carefully for the thief. If they think they hear the thief trying to steal the jewel they must point directly at where they think the thief is. (No sweeping pointing is allowed on the part of the guard.)
- Once the guard is set, silently point to a student sitting in the circle. That student becomes the thief and must get up, attempt to steal the jewel and sit back down in their place in the circle in order to win the game. If the guard successfully points to the thief, the thief becomes the guard and returns to the circle.
- Select a new thief and play again.
- Instruct the students sitting in the circle to be as quiet as possible so the guard can listen for the thief.
Action/Activities (Approximately 35 minutes)
Note to teacher: Sensitivity to cultural differences is essential to an equitable drama class. Remind students that they may work in a single gender groups as an accommodation. If you have students who are unable to touch for cultural reasons, choose a different game to play.
Small groups/Whole class > Tangles
- Invite the students to work in groups of six to eight and arrange themselves in a circle.
- Students reach into the middle of the circle and without looking, grasp the hands of two different people in a handshake grip. This leaves the group in a knot, which they must untangle into a circle without letting go of each other’s hands.
- Students may repeat the exercise in silence or make eye contact with as many other people as possible, or join elbows with others as they untangle.
- Variation – Ask one student to volunteer to be the Untangler while the remaining members of the class form themselves into a large tangle. The job of the Untangler is to untangle the class. This can be done using verbal instructions only (no touching) or touch only (no verbal instructions).
Whole class > Atoms into Tableau
- Invite the students to move through the space in a variety of ways; hopping, skipping, in slow motion, backwards, changing levels, changing speed etc.)
- As students are traveling, call out Atom four or six or two for students to quickly form groups of that number. If there are students left out, the groups must hide them in their group. Advise the students that you will be looking for hidden members.
- Repeat with different numbers and then introduce a title with the numbers and instruct the students to form groups and in ten seconds create a frozen image to represent the title. (e.g. Atom 5-the birthday party, Atom 2, waiting for the bus, Atom 6, a day at an amusement park, Atom 4,at the mall, Atom 8, a parade.
- After the ten seconds, instruct the students to Freeze and hold the image for a few seconds. Invite the students to remain frozen in their image but glance around the room to get a sense of the other representations.
- Encourage the students as they create the tableaux to focus on different elements of tableau such as the use of levels, focus, facial and physical expression. Instruct the students to re-do or edit a tableau paying attention to one of the elements.
- When students seem more comfortable and have explored the elements, invite the groups to share the images one at a time. Ask the students:
- What elements of tableau did you see in the image?
- How did the group effectively communicate the idea or title of the tableau.
- What have you learned about tableau today.
- What is challenging in creating an effective tableau?
Consolidation (Approximately 20 minutes)
Assessment for/as learning:
- Invite the students to re-visit the chart paper from last day and add new learning and skills.
Assessment for/of learning:
- Give students the self–assessment rubric (BLM 1) to read and fill in. Instruct the students to choose one box from the assessment that they think is particularly important and share their choice and reasons for the choice with a partner.
- Students can hand in the self–assessment rubric (BLM 1) or place in portfolios.
Minds On/Warm Up (Approximately 10 minutes)
Pairs > Traveling Cars
- Invite students to work in pairs. Partner A is the car. Partner B is the driver. The goal of this game is for the driver to carefully drive their car around the classroom without bumping into other cars.
- To make the car move forward, Partner B gently taps Partner A with their hand in the middle of their back . As soon as the tapping stops the car must come to a halt.
- To make the car turn to the left, Partner B gently taps Partner A on their left shoulder. Again, as soon as the tapping stops the car must come to a halt.
- To make the car turn to the right, Partner B gently taps Partner A on their right shoulder. Again, as soon as the tapping stops the car must come to a halt. Encourage the students to play the game in silence so that they can focus on the tapping and directions.
- The game begins when the students clearly understand these driving instructions.
- When the cars and drivers appear to be running out of gas have the partners switch. The driver becomes the car and the car becomes the driver.
- Variation – Depending upon the success of the drivers and cars, the above game can be repeated only this time Partner A either closes their eyes. Again, when the cars appear to be running out of gas the partners switch roles.
Action/Activities (Approximately 50 minutes)
Whole class/Small groups > Insiders and Outsiders,Join the conversation
- Ask two students to volunteer to demonstrate to the group. Advise the students to secretly decide upon a topic of conversation and begin their discussion in the presence of the rest of the class. Advise the students to try to be deliberately vague without being directly misleading. Invite the remaining students to join in the conversation if they think they know he topic. At any time, one of the original two students may ask the new conversant what the topic is. The conversant must whisper the topic into the ear of either of the original two students. If they are correct, the conversation continues. If not, the student who has guessed must leave the conversation and try again later once more clues have been given.
- Once this activity has been demonstrated, invite students to play the game in groups of three or four so that each student may have a turn at being one of the Insiders or the Outsider.
- To introduce the next activity, invite two of the students in each group to receive a topic from you. Advise the students that the topic is sports…..a particular sport or sporting event, a conversation with sports at the centre.
Small groups > The Moment Before, Of and After Tableaux
- The teacher invites three students to help with a demonstration of this activity. The sport of baseball is introduced with the teacher assuming the role of the pitcher. The other three students are assigned roles as the batter, the catcher and the umpire.
- The students along with the teacher take their places on the baseball diamond – The pitcher on the mound, the batter at the plate, the catcher squatting down behind the batter and the umpire standing behind the catcher.
- The teacher informs the class that there will be three moments in a sequence of baseball action. The three moments will be titled, “The Moment Before”, “The Moment Of” and “The Moment After”.
- In slow motion the sequence of action begins and continues between the freezes.
- “The Moment Before” is the wind-up of the pitcher who freezes just as the ball is released.
- “The Moment Of” is the swing and hit by the batter who freezes just as contact is made with the ball.
- “The Moment After” is the homerun as the pitcher and batter freeze to watch the ball sail out of the park. The appropriate facial expression and body language is also required by all of the players.
- Following the demonstration, invite the students to work in groups of 3 or 4 and select a sport and create a sequence of three frozen pictures that show “The Moment Before”, “The Moment Of” and “The Moment After”. Their sequences will be performed in slow motion and they must hold each of the frozen pictures for five seconds.
- Monitor the progress of each group and view a rehearsal by each group. Remind the students to hold each frozen picture for five seconds, to add the appropriate facial expression (emotion) and body language to each frozen picture and to be aware of the audience. The faces of the players need to be visible to the audience.
- When all the groups are rehearsed and ready, invite each group to share their sequence with the rest of the class making sure that the face of each player is visible and the frozen picture is held for five seconds. As the groups present, the teacher calls out the titles for each frozen picture (“The Moment Before”, “The Moment Of” and “The Moment After”).
Note to teacher: The presentations could also be seamless (performed without the titles) and in silence enhanced with the addition of appropriate slow, dramatic music. Groups can perform one with discussion at the end or groups can perform for each other if you feel the group is not ready to perform for everyone.
Consolidation (Approximately 15 minutes)
Assessment for/as learning:
Note to teacher: This debriefing can also lead to journal writing where students would select one question and elaborate.
- Debrief the “moments” tableaux inviting the students to respond to the following questions:
- Describe a tableaux that you feel effectively captured a particular moment and stood out for you.
- Now that you have viewed other groups, what might you change in your tableaux?
- What drama skills were required to successfully create “The Moment Before”, “The Moment Of” and “The Moment After”?
Whole group > Anchor Chart
- Instruct the students to consider the elements of an effective tableau and list them on a chart together. The chart should remain on the wall throughout the unit and students can refer to it and return to it to add words and ideas.
Minds On/Warm Up (Approximately 20 minutes)
Pairs/whole group > Mirroring
Note to teacher: you can begin this activity with the students working in silence and add music to help them with concentration and focus. Slow, new age or classical music is effective in this activity.
- Invite the students to work in pairs and sit cross-legged or in chairs facing their partner. One partner is A one is B. A is the leader and B is the mirror. The mirror follows the leader.
- A begins moving hands, arms and upper body slowly allowing B to follow the movements as the mirror. Instruct the students to make and maintain eye contact and work in silence. Encourage them to move slowly and fluidly to the music.
- Instruct the students to switch roles so that B becomes the leader and A the mirror.
- When the students are working effectively together, instruct them switch the leader role back and forth without discussing it.
- If the pairs are successfully moving back and forth from leader to mirror, instruct them to join another pair and form a circle in a group of four.
- Again using eye contact, concentration and no talking, the group of four decides who is the leader and who are the mirrors. Instruct the students to change leaders on a cue from you. If the groups are succeeding in following the leader, then instruct them to stand. Maintaining the eye contact, concentration and slow motion movement have the groups continue mirroring the leader who may move the group on their feet on the spot or slowly around the classroom.
- This activity can be extended to the whole class following one designated leader. Encourage the students to follow the person across from them and not necessarily look at the leader. Ask one or two students to leave the room and designate and select a leader. The students return when the group is working and try to guess the leader.
Action/Activities (Approximately 40 minutes)
Note to teacher: The following activity asks students to recall a memory. Before beginning, advise the students that they should select memories, personal stories that they are comfortable sharing with the group and to try to re-call stories that will not make them very sad or angry.
Individual > Remembering a personal story
- Invite the students to find a place alone in the room and either sit or lie down. Instruct the students to close their eyes and guide them into a visualization of their strongest memories (e.g., most proud, embarrassing, funniest, saddest etc.). Ask the students to recall all the sensory details of those memories as well as the visualization/image(s). Ask the students to focus on their favourite memory/story and re-play the memory/story in their imagination detailing when/where it occurred, who else was with them, what actually happened and how they felt about it.
Pairs > Small Groups > Retelling Personal Stories and Creating Accompanying Images
- Instruct the students to work in pairs, A and B, and share their visual memory/story with their partner. On a signal from the teacher, The pairs join another pair on a signal from the teacher and form a group of four. In the group of four, A shares B’s memory/story with the new partners and vice-versa until all four memories/stories have been shared.
- Having shared all four memories/stories the group selects one of the memories/stories and creates three frozen pictures that illustrate pivotal or key moments from the memory/story. The frozen pictures do not have to be sequential like “The Moment Before”, “The Moment Of” and “The Moment After”.
- Encourage the students to hold the image for five seconds, with each member of the group in each frozen picture either as a character or inanimate object. As well, remind the students that all the faces must be visible to the audience.
- Instructs each group to create a title for each frozen picture.
- After sufficient rehearsal, invite each group to select and share the tableau and title of the most significant moment. Invite the studetns to share in a circle or carousel with one group creating the tableau and then dissolving as the next group creates their tableau until each group has shared.
- Invite the students to comment on the activity and the tableaux they shared using the following questions as a guide:
- What was your favourite image? Why?
- How did the title communicate the main idea of the tableau?
- If it was your story, how did you feel seeing your story in the tableaux?
Consolidation (Approximately 15 minutes)
Assessment for/as Learning:
Whole group > Safety Net
Note to teacher: you can use chart paper and or create a visual of a net to record the words and phrases of the safety net. It is useful to put the net on the wall and be able to refer to it during the year.
- Using the chalkboard or a flip chart, invite students to brainstorm a list of positive attitudes and behaviours that students and teachers use for the drama class to function in a respectful and supportive manner (e.g., paying attention when someone performs). This is called the Safety Net, the supportive and encouraging atmosphere that must exist in a drama class to support student work.
- Invite the students to discuss/review the Safety Net and the importance of a supportive atmosphere.
- Students can also write in their journals on the importance of the safety net in a drama classroom.
Minds On/Warm Up (Approximately 20 minutes)
Whole class > Walk and Freeze
- Instruct the students to walk around the room freely, going in any direction they wish in a quiet, relaxed manner. As they are walking, continue to give direction: walk quickly, slowly, change direction etc. and when freeze is called they are to freeze in their positions.
- Repeat several times. On the final freeze position instruct half of the class to sit down while the other half continues the Walk and Freeze activity. As the students who are on their feet walk, instruct them to freeze in the most creative manner that comes to mind. Repeat a few times and have the group sitting comment upon the frozen positions of those frozen. Reverse the roles and repeat.
- Once repeated, instruct the whole class to get on their feet and again move around the room freely. This time the teacher tells the students to add an emotion to the movement (e.g., happy, sad, angry, bored). Again a freeze is called and the students freeze in the emotion. Again, instruct half the class to sit down and observe while the other half continues. Repeat a few times and have the group observing comment upon the emotions of those frozen. Reverse the roles and repeat.
- Discuss with the students the shapes that draw out attention, the use of the whole body to create an emotion, the importance of focus.
Whole class > Sculpting Statues
- Divide the class into two groups and direct students to stand in two lines facing a partner. Designate one line to be the A line and the other to be the B line. The A line is sculpting and the B line is the clay. Instruct the students to be sure that they shape their statue in a position that the partner can hold. Call the A’s aside and give them a word or phrase to use to sculpt the statue. In this exercise to lead into the next activity give them the phrase “babies at play”. Give the sculptor one minute to create their statue.
- Once all the statues are created, invite the sculptors to step back and observe all the statues in the sculpture garden. Ask the sculptors to indicate what they find interesting about the sculptures and solicit new words and titles from the sculptors for some of the statues.
- Instruct the lines to switch roles. Repeat the activity. The B line becomes the sculptor and A the clay. Give the sculptors a new title, “the adolescent” .
- Extend the activity by having two pairs make a group of four. Instruct the students to create a new visual picture with all their group members. Once agreed upon, all members establish a position in their picture in a clearly defined role. The may also give a title to their picture.
- Once ready to share, each group of four joins another group of four and presents their picture to the other group and gives the title.
- The two groups of four combine into one and now make a group of eight. In this new group they create another new visual picture and give it a title. Once the groups of eight are ready they will share their picture and title with the rest of the class.
Note to teacher: For the purpose of this lesson we suggest using words and phrases that pertain to the cycle of life but this activity could be used to open up a variety of themes. Accommodations such as sculpting through instructions but no touch or working in single genders can be made for students who have difficulty working physically or for students with cultural restrictions.
Action/Activities approximately 45 minutes
Small groups > Cycle of Life Tableaux
- Instruct the students to work in groups of five or six.
- Invite the students to brainstorm the stages of a person’s life and agree on four universal stages (i.e. childhood, adolescence, adulthood, senior).
- Instruct the students to create a series of four tableaux to show this life cycle. Each tableaux should depict the essence of that stage of life.
- Add a selection of music and ask the students to allow the music to inform the way they move from one image to the next (transitions).
- Direct the students to rehearse the series by working forward and backwards through the series.
- Invite the students to add a prop to the series that will be used in different ways in each tableaux.
- Students can share their series of tableaux with the class.
- Following the presentations ask the audience:
- Which image do you think most effectively created the particular stage?
- How did the groups use the prop to enrich our understanding of the particular stage?
- What was similar in the baby pictures? Adolescent pictures?
- What does the sequence tell you about life?
Note to teacher: You may want to give the students more time to rehearse and present in the next period. Presentations could be one after the other or two groups could present at the same time and go through the piece forwards and back to the beginning or one group could present to the other. Given that they have had practice with tableaux, you might want to formally evaluate this presentation.
Consolidation (Approximately 10 minutes)
Assessment for/as learning:
- Check for understanding through reflection, student journals, writing folders:
- How and what do we learn by sharing our work and observing others’ work?
- Describe your learning about yourself and the world through this Cycle of Life Activity.
Assessment of learning
Use Tableaux Rubric (BLM#3 Tableau Assessment)