School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 4

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text

Indicator 5. Use elements of drama to facilitate understanding

Objective a. Use structural features to identify a play as a literary form


Prior to this activity, the teacher should select an age-appropriate play that has a variety of structural features, which are noted in the Clarification for Standard Three, Indicator Five. Enlarge or duplicate several pages of the play that contain some of these structural features. Using a think-aloud approach, talk students through those pages indicating the play's structural features and the types of details those structural features contain. To conclude the discussion of each structural feature the teacher should tell how each feature helps a reader better understand the play. Next, the teacher and students should access several pages of an additional play. The teacher should question students asking which structural feature will yield information about a character, a time, an action, a place, a tone of voice, etc… so that students become more familiar with the organization of drama. An alternate method of accessing details from structural features is for the teacher to indicate two to three specific features and then question students about a conclusion that can be drawn about a character, a place, a conflict, etc… from those specific features.


Prior to this activity, the teacher should select an age-appropriate play that contains a variety of structural features and collect a series of illustrations or photographs that match very well, partially well, or minimally the details given in the structural features of the selected play. Introduce students to the structural features of the play by reading aloud and discussing the value of these features. As each feature is noted, to conclude the discussion show students a series of photographs/illustrations that correspond to that structural feature and discuss which is the best representation of the details in the structural feature. Depending upon the selected play, this activity can help students realize the time of day, time in history, physical setting, characters, etc… detailed in the words of the structural feature and the necessity and value or structural features.


Prior to conducting this activity, the teacher should locate several pages of an age-appropriate play and remove all structural features from it. This would essentially leave only the dialogue among the characters for students to read. Initially, students should read only the revised portion of the play. After that reading is complete, the teacher will give students the original form of the play with structural features intact. With teacher guidance, students should compare both forms of the play first to determine what details the structural features provide and second to discuss how these structural features assist a reader's understanding of the play.


Before this activity is conducted, the teacher should have already taught students structural features of drama. First, the teacher should divide students into small groups and give each student within the group a different type of play. The possibilities are one act plays, radio plays, reader's theatre plays, made-for-television plays, musicals, ten-minute-plays, etc… Given a specific amount of time each individual within the group should examine the structural features of his/her play and record his/her observations. After the time is over, students should be regrouped so that only one type of play is represented among the group's participants. Those students should discuss the structural features of their play to determine the types of details those features provide in that particular type of play. Once this second round is complete, students should return to their original group where each individual will share with other group members the structural features encountered in the assigned play type. As a closure, students within the group will complete a chart like the one given below. Teachers should add more structural features to the chart if desired.

  One Act Play Radio Play Musical Reader's Theatre Play
State Directions        
Production Notes        

Once each group has completed the chart, a general discussion among members of the class should address how a student should be able to tell the difference among the different types of plays based upon their text features.