A Play Can Be a Way to Review Any Topic
Students can write plays to reinforce and review any topic.
By Cathy Neushul
A play is not just a way for students to have fun. It can be a great way to review material and cement the information students have learned in class. Teachers can use a play to reinforce any topic in history, science, language arts . . . By reviewing information in an interesting way, you can encourage students to go beyond a basic recitation of facts and help them put the information they have learned in context. Instead of just learning that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, students can dress up like John Hancock, make a speech, and sign their name on the famous document. After participating in something like this, it is much more likely that they will remember the material they have learned.
Making History Come Alive
Facts and dates may seem hard for students to remember, and with good reason. They are meaningless without having a context. If you are studying the American Revolution, here’s one way to get students engaged and involved. Have them write their own play, make the props and design the scenery. You can divide students into groups, assign each one a particular aspect of this important time in history, and have them wow you with their creativity. For example, if a group takes on the Boston Tea Party, they could write dialogue, and act out the event. They could even make up a song. In one such class play students wrote a stirring number called “Dump, Dump, the Tea” that they sang as they threw fake tea into a fake harbor.
Before you set students loose to do this assignment, however, make sure that you tell them what information you expect to see in their portion of the play. If students chose to recreate a scene depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence, they could add character details to show what each person was like in real life. It’s a good idea to tape students’ performances. You can use the play as a way to review curriculum in the future.
Use a Play to Act Out a Class Novel
There are many different ways to review the material in a novel you have read with your class, but a play can be an interesting way to d this. You could have students divide into groups and each take a chapter from the book. They could write dialogue and descriptions for their portion of the story. By acting out the story, students can show that they understand the events in the story, and the characters and their motivations. After watching students’ plays you can get a good idea of how well students understood the story. By having students act out a certain portion of the story, you also provide a way to have students review the novel.
A Play Just to Have a Play
And then again you can have students put on a play just because they can. You can pick a play from any of the websites that offer ready-made scripts and get going. Students love to be involved in a play. It’s not difficult to find one that relates to information you have covered in class. For more lessons and activities to help you put on a play in your class see the resources found below.
Play Lessons and Activities:
In this lesson students use "Charlotte’s Web" by E.B. White as a way to learn about film adaptations. Students analyze a script used in a version of this classic. This is a good way to introduce students to the idea of script writing. They can learn the format and the terms used in this type of writing.
Using this lesson students can learn how to write a short play. This is a way to get students ready to write their own longer plays about a particular topic.
In this lesson students learn about wind energy and about the format of a play. This is a good model to use when showing students the type of play you would like them to write when they are working on their own.
This lesson provides a great way to expose students to one of Shakespeare's plays, Julius Caesar. Students read a version of the play and discuss related terms. If you are going to learn about writing a play, this is a way to have your students learn from one of the best.