School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 8

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. Analyze and evaluate elements of drama to facilitate understanding and interpretation

Objective b. Analyze structural features of drama that contribute to meaning


Before this activity, the teacher should already have instructed students to note the difference between acts and scenes and have selected a scene or act where the development of a character is evident. First, the students should read aloud the selected scene or act. With teacher guidance, the students should chart the development of that character and discuss what elements affected the development of the character and how or if the structural features of that scene or act assisted the reader in perceiving that development. Once this activity has been modeled, small groups of students should be given different scenes or acts of age-appropriate plays and instructed to track the development of a character, a setting, a conflict, etc… and be able to explain why the character developed as he/she did, why the setting changed, why the conflict evolved as it did, etc…


Prior to this activity, the teacher should select an age-appropriate play with a single act and multiple scenes or a play with at least two or more acts. Students should read a selected act or scene aloud. Next, the teacher should present students with a series of choices about the development of a character or conflict, the changing of a setting, etc… and encourage a discussion among students about which development or change is the most probable based upon their reading. The teacher may elect to have students focus on a single element or multiple elements of the selected scene or act. Ultimately, students should select the most probable development or change among the choices given and then read aloud the next scene or act to determine if their judgments were correct.


The teacher should select an age-appropriate play with at least one act that has multiple scenes. First students should read the entire act aloud. After reading is complete, students should return to the first scene in the act and verbally summarize that scene. That should be followed by discussion that details the elements or structural features in the first scene that create a transition to the second scene. Particular attention should be paid to any introduction to the following scene. After this activity has been modeled, students should be placed in small groups or with partners and assigned a particular pair of scenes. They should review the scenes to determine how transition to the next scene is handled. Once group work is complete and all scenes and their transitions have been discussed, the teacher and students should draw conclusions about the ways in which structural features can assist in the transition from one scene to another.


Once students understand the distinction between acts and scenes and their purpose within a play, the teacher should present students with an act where all designation of individual scenes has been removed. Working with a partner or with a small group, students should use the remaining structural features to determine where the scene breaks should occur. Once decisions have been made, the entire class should discuss the possibilities and as closure look at the original play with scene breaks intact to determine how helpful the structural features were in creating the scene breaks.