Learning From Learners- Alone Against the North

An in-depth character case study of Adam Shoalts as a learner through his memoir, Alone Against the North.

Who are we? How do we know what we know? How do we come to understand the world in which we live? It has long been said that people learn through watching and replicating. From birth, you begin your journey as a learner through the watching and replicating of those close to you. In school, you learn to listen and absorb the information that you are presented from your teachers and peers. You are consistently bombarded with information from the surrounding world. Your interactions with this environment and the people within it help define you as a person and as a learner. Through interactions with your environment and with the people in your life, you begin to form an identity. This identity is molded by the accumulated experience of living within that world and the choices that you have made throughout these interactions. Why are these experiences so important and how do we learn through experiences within our natural world? How and why is experience related to the understanding of oneself and the formation of one’s identity? We can begin to answer these questions through looking at the character of Adam Shoalts and examine how he has learned within the informal context of the Canadian North using his memoir, Alone Against the North.

Before beginning to break down Shoalts’ experiences, relationships, and identity, it is important to understand the definition of identity. Identity refers to “the organization of the individual’s drives, abilities, beliefs, and history into a consistent image of self. It involves deliberate choices and decisions, particularly about work, values, ideology, and commitments to people and ideas” (Hoy, Winne, & Perry. 2016. Pg. 85). Through understanding this definition, we can analyze how Shoalts learnt about the different aspects of his personality and identity as a whole. Simultaneously, we, as the reader, begin to understand and reflect on the ways in which we learn through the interaction between “the reader, the text, and the poem” as discussed by Louise Rosenblatt in her book The Reader, The Text, The Poem: The Transactional Theory of the Literary Work. Another interesting aspect to consider when looking at the formation of identity is psychologist Erik Erickson’s theory of “The Eight Stages of Man.” “This [The Eight Stages of Man] psychosocial theory emphasized the emergence of the self, the search for identity, the individual’s relationships with others, and the role of culture throughout life” (Hoy, et al. 2016. Pg. 82.). As we delve deeper into Shoalts character, we will look more specifically at the Intimacy vs. Isolation stage of Erickson’s theory. Intimacy vs Isolation refers to a “willingness to relate to another person on a deep level, to have a relationship based on more than mutual need. Someone who has not achieved a sufficiently strong sense of identity tends to fear being overwhelmed or swallowed up by another person and may retreat into isolation” (Hoy, et al. 2016. Pg. 87-88.). It is interesting to view knowledge through a psychological lens because it can help shed light on some of the predispositions towards learning that one may have. This psychological lens is the first view into the character case study of Adam Shoalts as a learner through experience.

It is interesting to look into the memoir Alone Against the North to find examples within the text that are illuminated by Erikson’s Identity vs. Isolation stage as well as the definition of identity itself. It also helps reveal many interesting threads of Shoalts’ personality. As the reader interacting with the text, we gain the opportunity to go back in time with the author to relive the events that led him to the profession of exploration. Right off the top of the memoir, it is established that Adam Shoalts is a little different than your average person. When most people actively avoid the cold, wet, and harsh environments especially within the Canadian North, Shoalts praises the unexplored expressing the sentiment that it is a “blessing to be born in a land of almost limitless wilderness” (Shoalts. 2016. Pg. 9). Shoalts agrees that the unknown wilderness is scary and often dangerous but, instead of avoiding it, he actively pursues the exploration of this unknown because of his “desire “to escape from the commonplace of existence,” as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put it” (Shoalts. Pg. 48). We learn that the author understands he had a different upbringing because, while the other kids were out playing and socializing, he was trudging through the woods attempting to hone his wilderness survival skills. Although this seems totally unnatural to many others, to Shoalts, this was where he felt he belonged. He describes how he feels at home in the woods because of its perceived comforts such as its surreal quietness and natural beauty. Shoalts feels as though the wilderness can provide him solace and a calm that is unachievable in the industrialized and technologically dependent world. Nature is free from all the buzzing of signals flying through one’s head as well as all the other commotion that is commonplace in “civilized” society. Especially in today’s society with the multitude of phones and satellite signals, one can sympathize with Shoalts wanting to “unplug” and retreat into solitude. However, the extent in which Shoalts excludes himself from society is slightly unnerving albeit impressive. When looking at it from the Intimacy vs. Isolation stage of Erickson’s theory, it could easily be speculated that Shoalts’ single-minded determination to become an explorer alienated him from his peers and caused him great difficulty in forming lasting or meaningful relationships. Furthermore, the lack of relationships in society effectively became a catalyst in his drive towards his goal of exploring the Canadian wilderness in relative isolation. This becomes even more apparent after his relationship with his friend Wesley Crowe dissolves because Crowe wants “normal” things such as a wife, kids, and a roof over his head. This domestication is completely foreign to Shoalts and he doesn’t understand how Crowe’s priorities could have changed from wanting to chase adventure to chasing a family. This goes to show how self-absorbed Shoalts becomes in his quest because he believes that everyone has the same motivation and inclination towards adventure as he does. This is a wonderful learning moment for Shoalts as he has to take a step back and realize that everyone is different and that, generally, people prefer human contact over isolation. This brings up an interesting point because it is both admirable and silly that Shoalts cannot understand not chasing a dream, even though it isn’t truly Crowe’s dream. It is admirable because Shoalts has a dream and he sticks to that path and never strays. This is unfortunately not the case for many people. How many people wanted to be a firefighter or a policeman when they were young but never chased their dream because someone told them it was foolish or dangerous? Therefore, the reader can admire Shoalts decision to stick to his dream of becoming an explorer even when The Discovery Channel (falsely) stated that the world was fully explored (Shoalts. 2016.). Yet, it is silly because Shoalts refuses to understand another point of view. This especially comes to light in Shoalts’ recruiting of sidekick, Brent Kozah.

When looking at the relationships within Alone Against the North, we get to see how Shoalts tries to manipulate his companion’s mindset so that they accompany him on his journeys. He tries to get them to stay through guilting them, bolstering them, and not telling them all the information. When you look at Shoalts and Kozah’s relationship, it is very apparent that it is held together by necessity. Shoalts, knowing the dangers of solo exploration, needed Kozah to be able to complete his trip and Kozah needed Shoalts to break him out of his rut and take him on an adventure. This is not the deep relationship that Erickson is referring to. This is a very surface level relationship that heavily favours Shoalts because he uses the absence of information to help further his goal of exploring the unnamed river. Shoalts also just expects Kozah to understand wilderness survival techniques because Shoalts grew up working and expanding his survival knowledge within the wooded areas around his home. Shoalts doesn’t realize or accept that Kozah doesn’t have the same wilderness experience and survival skills as Shoalts himself has. As the reader, we see a definite divide in priorities, skills, and mentality that Shoalts does acknowledge his apprehension over. Yet, he completely and recklessly overlooks these in his blind pursuit of his goal, the unnamed river. This is very apparent when Shoalts describes his motivations in comparison to Kozah’s for exploring the river saying:

To him [Kozah], the nameless river we were seeking wasn’t some nameless prize, but just another subarctic river like all the others we had paddled on our journey. To me, however, this river represented something more— it was a mystery, and a promise of a pristine place untouched by the modern world, a river so obscure that no known person had ever previously explored it, That made it irresistible (Shoalts. 2016. Pg. 2.).

He overlooked these obvious warning signs because he foolishly believed he was resourceful enough to completely change Kozah’s attitude on the trip. Shoalts believed that he could instil his own values into Kozah by showing him his drive to find the river and that Kozah would eventually come around because of Shoalts’ determination. At this point, the reader wonders whether or not Shoalts has learned anything at all because he once again proves that he is unable to comprehend another point of view. This gets him into the mess of being alone in the North. The reader feels the urge to shout “Don’t be stupid” at the book when Shoalts repeatedly makes these same mistakes. This brought to mind Rosenblatt’s theory about the “two-way, or…circular process…in which the reader responds to the verbal stimuli offered by the text…[and] draw selectively on the resources of his own fund of experiences and sensibility (Rosenblatt. 1978. Pg. 43). This makes the reader appraise their own thoughts and decisions and shows how stubborn and unaware we sometimes are to others feelings, thoughts, and opinions. This also brings to mind Erikson’s psychosocial theory because it makes the reader delve into what makes a healthy relationship. Part of that healthy relationship is having an understanding and a partnership between the two parties involved. Deeply rooted relationships cannot be forced and manipulated because it alters the power balance between the individuals and, thus, creates a division between them. Because Shoalts is not establishing these deep rooted relationships, the reader witnesses a slow decent into isolation as Shoalts decides to continue his mad pursuit “flushed with confidence and practically half-mad with a long suppressed desire to pry open the secrets of this obscure waterway” (Shoalts. 2016. Pg. 189). With this idea of goal-oriented madness taking hold of the reins, Shoalts makes a series of very rash decisions such as not taking a satellite phone, shooting unknown rapids, and going into the Canadian Wilderness alone. The last one, most of all, makes the reader shake their head, especially when Shoalts provides many different accounts of tragic solo journeys and lists the many dangers of solo wilderness travel. It makes the reader wonder how close the line between courage and stupidity really is. Yet, this obsession gives a small glimpse into the true heart of what it means to be an explorer. It is about reaching that elusive end goal and besting the odds even when they are stacked against you. Exploring is to be daring and reckless while simultaneously being cautious and careful. The explorer Ernest Shackleton’s family motto points out that “by endurance, we conquer” (Shoalts. 2016. Pg. 123) and this holds very true to the ideals of the explorer. However, as we have examined within the relationships above, to be an explorer is to be lonely. Explorers are never content within the “civilized” world. This is echoed by the many accounts of explorers that have committed suicide when restricted to the confines of society that Shoalts discusses in Alone Against the North (Shoalts. 2016.). This reluctance to form relationships as well as the inability to remain and settle within society once again harkens back to Erickson’s theory on the Intimacy vs. Isolation stage of man and becomes one of the major influences on the identity of the explorer. Therefore, to be an explorer is not only about being lonely but choosing to be lonely.

We look at our identity as the accumulation of all our experiences and interactions with others both positively and negatively and the beliefs and values one creates for themselves because of these factors. As is extremely apparent in the case of Adam Shoalts, identity is also shaped by our surroundings and the environment in which we decide to plant ourselves. When one’s experiences with people in society are more negatively inclined, a trend towards Erickson’s idea of isolation occurs. It is in this isolation that Shoalts believes he learns best and, thus, has a very large impact on his relationships and connection with others. Although Shoalts has explored many unknown expanses of wilderness, the only exploration that he has been unable to conquer is that of other people’s motivations and values. This creates a separation in understanding but allows Shoalts to learn in a very different informal environment. Shoalts’ successful trip to the Little Owl River as well as down the Again River was a combination of all the prior learning that he had done. This trip was the ultimate test of his skills in which he had two options, pass and live to document the rivers or fail and perish on his quest. As the reader, we get a front row seat to the author struggling to discover what works and doesn’t work for him. This view helps us better understand what it is we know and gives us a template for understanding how we came to know it. Adam Shoalts’ personal motto is “you are what you make yourself” (Shoalts. 2016. Pg. 91), and Shoalts has certainly made himself into an interesting character.

Works Cited

W. Hoy, P. H. (2016). Educational Psychology Sixth Canadian Edition. Toronto: Pearson Canada.

Rosenblatt, L. M. (1978). The Reader, The Text, The Poem: The Transactional Theory of the Literary Work. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Shoalts, A. (2016). Alone Against the North. Toronto: Penguin Group.


Term 1 PGP Entries

Date PGP Target Context Evidence (250 Character Max.) Summary of Teacher Feedback (1000 Character Max.) Analysis/Next Steps/Plan for Growth (1000 Character Max.) Plan for Growth Revisited
14 Oct 2016 1.1 – the ability to maintain respectful, mutually supportive and equitable professional relationships with learners, colleagues, families and communities; Other In-Class Instruction (Small group, one-on-one, co-teaching etc.) I have taken and worked with many students both one on one as well as in small groups when I have been asked by the teacher or through my own observations of students needing help in the classroom. It is important to continuously establish professional relationships within your career. It allows you a support network that makes you strive to be a better teacher and contributor to your school. This is important because my partner teacher is instilling her trust and confidence in my abilities as both a teacher and as a professional colleague. I plan on continuing to adapt and support my classroom and my partner teacher to help both my students and myself learn as much as possible. I will continue to work one on one or in small groups until my partner teacher believes I am ready to take over the classroom collectively. Achieved
28 Sep 2016 1.3  a commitment to social justice and the capacity to nurture an inclusive and equitable environment for the empowerment of all learners; and Other In-Class Instruction (Small group, one-on-one, co-teaching etc.) I stopped students in class from bullying another student. I told the class that I would not stand for such negativity in my or my partner teacher’s classroom. It is important to establish a safe space within the classroom and the elimination of problems like bullying is an important step for students to feel comfortable wihtin the classroom and to work to the best of their ability. I believe that a safe and positive learning environment is key to student success. It is very important, if not the most important, to me as I work towards getting my own classroom because if students do not feel safe or cared for learning cannot be accomplished. Therefore, it is imperative that bullying in the classroom/ school is halted so that student safety (physical, mental, and emotional) is not in jeopardy. I will always strive to eliminate bullying from my classroom and the school in general. Still in progress
01 Nov 2016 1.2  ethical behaviour and the ability to work in a collaborative manner for the good of all learners; Professional Conversation I shared my lesson plan with my partner teacher and taught her how to “teach” it. We used constructive criticism to determine how it could be adapted and how the students can better connect the physical and the theoretical aspects of the lesson. Helping out colleagues is an excellent way to establish better professional relationships. In this way, we work together towards the common goal of successful and meaningful  learning for our students and our peers. I shared my lesson on “Flocking” that included the dance aspect and the theory behind it (Rudolf Laban’s Effort Theory). Through sharing my lesson and the thoughts and process behind it, my partner teacher and, by extension, I will get a better idea of how to teach dance in the future. Therefore, through collaboration our classrooms will benefit from a better experience within their dance unit. I plan on building this lesson farther in the future through more collaboration so that everyone can learn and enjoy this lesson. Still in progress
01 Nov 2016 1.4  a commitment to service and the capacity to be reflective, lifelong learners and inquirers. Professional Conversation I created a lesson on dance and in media studies which I am fairly inexperienced with. After the lessons, I asked my partner teachers for some constructive criticism to help better my lessons in the future. Reflection allows us to refine our skills as educators. By showing students that we are continuously learning, we become powerful role models and advocates for continued learning throughout their lives. This is important because it will help make my lesson plans better in the future and, furthermore, will help me become a better teacher. Through asking my partner teachers for some constructive criticism, I am able to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of my two different lessons. It also allows me to figure out how I can continue learning and growing as a teacher. Furthermore, their responses (as well as the student reflections within the lesson itself) will help give me a few tools that I can use to continue to be reflective, a life-long learner, and an inquirer. Still in progress
30 Nov 2016 2.2  proficiency in the Language of Instruction; Other In-Class Instruction (Small group, one-on-one, co-teaching etc.) I worked with an English as an Additional Language student on a character development sheet that needed to be completed in an intern’s drama class because of my drama background. I had previously worked with this student on other assignments as well. If the students can see that you know what you are doing then they are more inclinded to listen and adapt the information that you are giving them. Further, it is important to be competent in your abilities to explain information to your students in whichever medium you choose (Notes, PowerPoint presentation, etc…). The student did not speak a lot of English and, therefore, I had to use differentiated teaching to help this student work towards completing his sheet. It is very possible that had I not taken the time to work with this student one on one he would have not done this assignment. I was looking for opportunities to bring my dramatic knowledge into the classroom and,  through helping this student with this assignment, I was able to share some of my knowledge in this subject area with my students. This is important because I want to be a drama teacher someday and I need experience teaching in the area. I was able to have a first hand look at the struggle that some students have with drama but I also got to work with them to eliminate these struggles. I hope to help any student within this class with drama. In the future, I hope I can continue working with students to expand thier drama knowledge as well as my own. Achieved
06 Dec 2016 2.3  knowledge of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture and History (e.g., Treaties, Residential School, Scrip, and Worldview); Other In-Class Instruction (Small group, one-on-one, co-teaching etc.) I helped out in the classroom while the students did First Nations beadwork with a guest. Being culturally aware and considerate is an important part of our jobs as teachers. By including First Nations material in the classroom, students are subjected to another culture which helps to diminish racism and sterotyping based on misinformation and ignorance. The inclusion of First Nation, Metis, and Inuit culture and history helps foster reconcilliation over the tragic events of the past in which this culture and history was almost lost. Working with this medium was important because it gave the students and I better insight into the First Nations culture by exploring one of their artforms, First Nations Beadwork. I was able to connect this beadwork to other artforms such as beading in mocassins, beaded quiltwork, and beaded hatbands (on cowboy hats which I have two of). This helped further the learning and allowed students to see the multiple uses of this medium both as visual art as well as functional art. This is important to me because I would love to bring this activity into my own classroom if I am to teach art as a class. I believe it fits very nicely into the artwork theme but also allows a breief look into another culture. I would love to tie this activity in with a whole unit of cultural artwork which includes this beadwork but also includes things such as henna, mandalas, dreamcatchers,  stained glass, or clay cultural sculptures. It is also important to me that the students understand why they are doing these cultural works. Therefore, tying it in with lessons on the meaning and origen of the art is a must. In this way, I hope to teach cultural artforms/work with integrity and substance. Still in progress
01 Nov 2016 2.4  ability to use technologies readily, strategically and appropriately Formal Lesson I used a plethora of different media to teach my students. PowerPoint, YouTube, Facebook posts, and different websites all projected through a projector screen. Also used snapchat news (and other news sites) stories to discuss media. As you may notice in the classroom, students are increaingly connected to technology and, thus, it is important to incorporate it into the classroom. I feel as though I excel in this area. I used different videos to use as visual aids that work to scaffold the material I was presenting. I further had to connect this media to the projector and fully hook it up the computer in a manner that it was a quick and effective learning tool within the classroom. I will work towards being comfortable with including technology within my classroom to bring ease to presentations as well as be able to introduce topics in a vibrant visually-pleasing manner. Achieved
01 Nov 2016 2.5  knowledge of a number of subjects taught in Saskatchewan schools (disciplinary/interdisciplinary knowledge); and Formal Lesson  I have observed a plethora of different subjects such as Visual Arts, Arts Education, Media Studies, English, SAGE (advanced) English, and Drama. While it is important that you are an expert (knowldegable) within your field, it is almost equally as important to know about a wide variety of subjects so that you can use them to suppliment and further the learning within your own subject. Through my observations, I’ve developed an idea of successful strategies (Think Pair Share, Socratic Circles, etc) that I think will benefit me within my teaching career. I have discussed with many teachers about what makes a lesson plan successful or not, the value of being able to think on your feet, and being able to adapt as you go. Using this information, I can continue bettering my knowledge of lesson planning and my understanding of the material/ content (curricula) that I will be teaching. I can use this knowledge gained in many different subjects to help enrich my own classroom. Looking forward, I want to keep gaining knowledge about other subject areas so I can observe many different types of successful teachers and attempt to translate that into becoming a better teacher myself. By connecting the broad knowledge base that I am constructing through observing to my own subject areas, I will be better able to help and support my students in a more rounded and meaningful way. Still in progress
01 Nov 2016 2.6  ability to strive for/pursue new knowledge Formal Lesson I created a dance lesson plan and taught dance to grade 9 Arts education students. As educators, it is important that we continue to learn as well and, therefore, can be used as good role models for students to see the need/ importance of being lifelong learners.  I am a Drama English teacher so many of these classes that I have observed have been up my alley but I have really challenged myself by trying to teach a lesson in dance to put me out of my “comfort zone.” Therefore, I did extensive research into the topic of grade 9 arts education dance and constructed my lesson plan and my dance concept that I used out of this. This shows my willingness to be a lifelong learner and explore other areas of knowledge that I have not explored before. I had to familiarize myself with the curriculum content in order to be able to construct my lesson plan. What is most important to me in this lesson is that dance is not one of my areas of expertise but I feel as though I could build a dance unit out of my lesson plan and a few other ideas (from both the curriculum and my partner teacher). Now that I have achieved confidence in Arts 9 dance, I will continue to expand my knowledge and pursue new challenges because of the confidence gained from the success of my lesson. Achieved
30 Nov 2016 1.1 – the ability to maintain respectful, mutually supportive and equitable professional relationships with learners, colleagues, families and communities; Professional Conversation I had a discussion with my partner teacher about the strengths and weaknesses of my media studies lesson and she gave me some constructive criticism on how it can be better adapted/ structured in the future. The ability to continually refine a lesson helps to give your students the best education possible. It is important that we as educators help one another out towards this common goal of learning. This was very valuable to me because I got to try something new and, for the most part, succeed in providing a good lesson to the students. I also was able to see the areas in which I can improve. Thus, the discussion was a wonderful learning experience and learning tool that I can build upon as I move forward in my career. Now that I have a better knowledge/ awareness of my lesson, I hope to continue to receive feedback on my future lessons so that I can continue to adapt and learn so that I can continuously strive to give my students a better educational experience. Achieved

Flocking- Dance/ Movement

Lesson Plan

Date: November 1, 2016

Subject:  Arts Education

Grade: 9

Topic:  Dance/ Movement- Flocking


1. Bodies 5. Pen/Pencil
2. Movement Clothes (Or Comfortable Clothing) 6. Checklist
3. Music Device 7. Assessment Sheet
4. Paper 8. An Open Mind


Stage 1- Desired Results – you may use student friendly language
Broad Areas of Learning

       Lifelong learners

       Self and Community

Cross Curricular Competencies

Developing Social Responsibility

             Engage in communitarian thinking and dialogue


Developing Literacies

       Construct knowledge related to various literacies

       Express understanding and communicate meaning using various literacies

Developing Identity/Interdependence

       Understand, value, and care for oneself (intellectually, emotionally, physically, spiritually)

       Understand, value, and care for others

Developing Thinking

       Think and learn contextually

       Think and learn creatively


What do they need to understand, know, and/or able to do? 

  1. Ability to understand and successfully perform flocking in a group atmosphere
  2. Understanding dance as a collaboration of movement rather than a structure
  3. Be able to understand distinct movements using Effort Theory by Rudolf Laban (see attached for definition/description of each element)
  4. Ability to be reflective in self-assessment and peer-assessment


CP9.1 Create dance compositions that express perspectives and raise awareness about a topic of concern to youth.

CP9.2 Investigate and use choreographic processes (e.g., individual and collaborative choreography).

CP9.3 Choreograph duo or small group work.

CR9.1 Respond to professional dance, drama, music, and visual art works through individual or collaborative inquiry and the creation of own arts expressions.


CP 9.1 -Investigate how a single idea can be developed in many ways and directions (e.g., How can we represent through movement the differing perspectives on this topic?).

CP 9.2 – Demonstrate efficient, purposeful, expressive movements.

– Develop seamless transitions that sequence dance phrases in ways that exemplify the intended idea.

CP 9.3 – Generate ideas for movement exploration and development by collaborating in duo and small group work.

– Demonstrate leadership as a choreographer by offering ideas and guidance to dancers during development of composition

– Support duo or small group in repeating movement phrases and sequences with accuracy and expression during development, rehearsal, and sharing of work.

– Reflect on composition process and describe ideas, strengths, and areas for potential improvement

CR 9.1- . Use individual or collaborative inquiry to develop questions and learn about a selected arts expression

PGP Goals (and what evidence in the lesson will show that you have achieved the target?):

1.1              the ability to maintain respectful, mutually supportive and equitable professional relationships with learners, colleagues, families and communities;

-I have the opportunity to teach my partner teacher this dance medium because she is unfamiliar in this area of the Arts curriculum. We have had many professional conversations about the inclusion of dance in the Arts curriculum and the different ways it can/ has been incorporated into the classroom especially in regards to my dance lesson, Flocking. If my partner teacher can successfully guide the students through the process while I am away or will include/adapt it for her own use then I will have successfully hit this goal.

1.2              ethical behaviour and the ability to work in a collaborative manner for the good of all learners;

-In regards to my partner teacher, the ability to collaboratively teach this lesson while I am away as well as provide feedback/ constructive criticism on the strength or weakness of individual areas in my lesson that will help me improve it are important to show evidence of target completion. For students, inclusion of all members in the decision-making process and listening and building on one another’s ideas will help showcase the evidence of this goal.

1.3              a commitment to social justice and the capacity to nurture an inclusive and equitable environment for the empowerment of all learners; and

-Every member of the group is participating and contributing to the overall well-being of the group. It is important that no one is being left out of the group, feeling alienated within the group, or feeling unheard/unimportant in the group. Positive group dynamics will showcase the importance (especially to me) of fostering a safe and inclusive environment in which students can learn and grow is essential to the completion of this goal.

1.4              a commitment to service and the capacity to be reflective, lifelong learners and inquirers.

-Writing a knowledgeable and observationally based personal reflection on this lesson that is coherent and identifies areas of strength and weakness within my lesson.

2.2       proficiency in the Language of Instruction;

-Because my expertise does not fall under the dance category, successfully giving the illusion of competency and successfully make people believe I know 100% what I am doing will show that I have hit this goal. The ability to have students understand the concepts and ideas that I am formulating from my research and being able to perform these concepts successfully is another way in which I can judge the completion of this goal. The self-evaluation questions are another measure of the success or failure of my lesson.

Stage 2- Assessment
Assessment FOR Learning (formative) Assess the students during the learning to help determine next steps. 

Work with students to better incorporate Effort Theory into the “Rob the House” exercise (discuss, model, and critique). Observe students working in groups and attempt to give them feedback on possible inclusion of Effort Theory in their movements.


Assessment OF Learning (summative) Assess the students after learning to evaluate what they have learned.

See attached Rubric. Self-Evaluation using the same rubric that I am using to mark the students (they also answer the questions on the back to demonstrate knowledge gained from this lesson). Peer-evaluation to determine group dynamics and use of rehearsal time that I was unable to see within class.

Stage 3- Procedures:

Accommodations – which students require differentiation and what kind Modifications – how have you planned to accommodate the student’s needs
-There may be students that are unable to dance because of religious or cultural reasons.

-Because this is grade 9, many of the boys will be “too cool” to want to participate.







-I have a substitute assignment ready in case there are students that cannot participate that is based on the lesson itself and the teachings (Effort Theory) that I will be doing in class.

-I also structure the “dance” as simply being movements with others in a group. Therefore, they are not touching or formally dancing with a partner. In this way, I hope to get around the “unable to partake in dance” difficulties.

Motivational/Anticipatory Set (introducing topic while engaging the students)

  1. Begin the class with having everyone move in space. Walk. Get them to shake out limbs and more movement ready. (~5 min)
  2. Guided movement exercise- “Rob the House”- students are guided through a scenario in which the teacher creates a scene and the students have to make the movements that the teacher is calling out (These movements fit the theme of the scenario which, in this case, is robbing a house). This is an intro into having the students think about dance abstractly as different sets of movements rather than a structured form. Students learn about the different aspects of Effort Theory- Space, Weight, Flow, and Time by performing the designated moves that the teacher is calling out.

Ex. Teacher- “You are sneaking quietly towards the house.” Students begin tip toeing in space. Description- Light weight, direct (or indirect) space, sustained time, Bound flow

(15 min)

Main Procedures/Strategies:

  1. Explanation of Flocking- Dance Improvisation- See Teaching Sheets. Flocking Video (YouTube 30- 1:30). (10 min)
  2. Begin Flock Experimentation- Line. Then small group. Then large group.

(25 min)

Closing of lesson:

1.      Discuss/ Summarize with the group how the different aspects of Effort Theory were examined first in “Rob the House” and, secondly, in their initial explorations. Discuss how they can continue to use Effort Theory in their project moving forward. Any Questions? (~5 min)

Personal Reflection:

I believe that this lesson went well overall but I definitely see it improving in the future. The first slight hindrance that befell this lesson was the time in which I had to teach it. I only got one full day of instruction myself with the students (the Tuesday because Wednesday was “take your kids to work day”) before my partner teacher took it over to work with them on the Friday and Monday. I feel as though if I could have been there to fully follow through with my vision of the project it would have turned out a little better than it did. The second problem, that I believe is fairly universal from what I have observed, is absences. On the day we were supposed to perform, one of the groups dropped to six members, another group lost two students to sickness, and the final group stayed at the full amount. This made the numbers really skewed with one group dominating in members. One of the comments that a student put forward was that it was harder to do in the large group and that the small groups had the advantage. In regards to the lesson, all groups were still equal because members were mirroring and, no matter how many people there are in the group, if everyone is doing the movements then they will be assessed accordingly. However, the students didn’t really see it this way and this resulted in the big group being significantly less motivated and, thus, not trying very hard during the performance. I couldn’t get around this by interchanging members because they practiced and choreographed within their groups and pulling someone out would have been detrimental to the group integrity. I believe, however, that if the groups had been closer to even that this “jealousy” wouldn’t have been an issue.

I do believe that this is an awesome assignment that simply needs a few tweaks to make it register a little better with the participants. I do believe that if I had more time in the classroom that I could have better motivated and explained the concepts of this assignment to my students. This lesson has shown me that this assignment can work and that many students will actually enjoy it. Looking forward, I plan on using this lesson again but with the slight modification that I can fully see this lesson through with my students at every facet of the procedure and not just the beginning. In this way, I believe that I can have a great lesson plan for my future arsenal.


Additional Material:



A type of movement improvisation in which students mirror or shadow each other’s movement in groups. Often uses a diamond formation. Students follow the movements of a leader and share leadership throughout the group. This is an extended version of mirroring for three or more people.  Participants do not necessarily need to be able to watch the leader, as long as they can see and follow each other. (adapted from the Ontario Arts Curriculum, 2009 )

An Instructional Approach

  • Begin with groups of four students.
  • Students stand in a line one behind the other. The student at the front of the line uses simple, slow movements using space to the side of her/his body so that students can see and mirror in a follow-the-leader fashion.
  • Playing slow music will support this activity. At specific intervals, of about 1 minute, rotate the leader to the back of the line to determine a new leader.
  • Once students are comfortable moving in the space and following a leader, arrange the groups into a diamond formation. (see diagram)
  • Repeat the follow-the-leader movements, following student #1, and instruct students that when the direction in which the group is facing changes, the leadership will pass to the person at the ‘front’ of the group. All students mirror or shadow the person at the front. Allow students to practice changing leadership by making ninety-degree turns.

Variations for Different Levels of Readiness

  • As their skill increases, groups can increase in number. A student may be added to the centre of the diamond, but that student will not take the lead. Other students may be added ‘along the lines of the diamond’, and they will not take the lead. The four students at the four tips of the diamond will continue to pass the lead to each other.
  • When one leader feels as though s/he is done leading, s/he points to another dancer, who then takes over leading.
  • The teacher can call for a new leader, signaling a ninety-degree turn.
  • The teacher could be the first leader.
  • Music is chosen to suit the age of students. – Students can flock through the space and pass through another “flock of birds”.
  • Different tempos and styles of music may be used.


  • – Students can change their arrangements in their flock to be farther away from one another to extend their sensitivity.
  • – Students can create more difficult movements and different styles of dance.- Diamonds may overlap each other, or be arranged one within the other to explore contrasting movements between groups.

Cross Curricular Uses

Health and Physical Education

Students in flock can explore sport skill movements i.e. dribbling, free throw shot, pivot.

Daily Physical Activity

Flocking may be used with whole class involvement and vigorous movements


Students can move as different states of matter, different weather systems, or a variety of stages of the water cycle.


Divide class into two, one group forms a circle and performs a choral chant of a poem, while the other group performs a flock in the centre of the circle, to music at low volume.


*Taken directly from the Council of Ontario Drama and Dance educators (CODE) http://www.code.on.ca/resource/flocking

*Given to my partner teacher as a step by step resource to use within the classroom.


Terminology For the Lesson:

Dance – a series of rhythmic and patterned bodily movements usually performed to music

Choreography – A creation or compilation of steps, patterns and movements which make up a dance or a dance routine.

Improvisation – this is the action of dancing without defining movement previously; the dancer does not know what s/he will execute but moves spontaneously and freely, in opposition to composed dance, where the dancer memorizes choreography.

Flocking– type of movement improvisation in which students mirror or shadow each other’s movement in groups.

Mirroring –It consists of a bodily activity for two, in which one person moves and the other follows as if s/he was a mirror. This strategy is used to develop concentration, communication, cooperation and creative skills.

Kinsphere: (or kinesphere)- imaginary space that surrounds the human body. It has a spherical shape and its size is determined by the maximum space reached by limbs in any possible direction.

Rhythm – a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.

Effort Theory-it is a mental impulse from which movement originates. There are four motion factors that constitute it: SPACE (direct or indirect), WEIGHT (strong or light), TIME (sudden or sustained) and FLOW (bound and free). The dynamic of movement is the result of the combination of these factors and its effort qualities.

Space – the kinespheric space, the scenic space, and execution of direct or indirect space from the point of view of effort theory.

Weight – weight can be understood in two different ways: as its usual meaning, but referring to the gravitational relationship of the human body towards earth and as an effort component, in which case it would be light or strong

Time – two main different ways to understand time: as a rhythmical component (exactly the same way as it works for music) and as an effort component, in which case it would be sudden or sustained.

Flow (free, bound or continuous) – Free- not have big control to stop movement immediately

Bound– individual has the control to stop moving at any moment

Continuous- the stream or momentum of movement doesn’t stop.


*Taken from: http://www.contemporary-dance.org/dance-terms.html


Student Reflection for Summative Self-Assessment

Name: __________________                                                 Group (Circle):     1        2        3

What did you learn in this unit?


What did you learn about dance? Create your own definition of dance from your new knowledge.


How could you apply Effort Theory when looking at everyday movements (In: dance, basketball, football, in gym class, running, etc…)? Describe one or two movements using this knowledge.


If you could do the performance again, what would you do differently? The Same? If nothing, then how would you change this assignment to better challenge yourself?





Flocking Performance Rubric- Dance/ Movement


Name: _______________________________

  1 2 3 4
Rehearsal Skills I was off-task all of the time. I put little to no effort into my work. I didn’t work well with other students. I caused distractions and goofed off. I was off-task a lot. I didn’t try very hard. I didn’t work well with other students. I caused some distractions.


I was off-task occasionally

I put forth strong effort and worked fairly hard. I worked well with other students.

I was on task nearly all of the time. I gave 100% in effort and tried my hardest. I worked well with other students.
Performance Skills I was not very focused, concentrated or committed to performance. I did not engage with other dancers or the audience. I joked around with the audience while I was performing, which distracted them and the other dancers. I was generally focused. I made some attempt to engage with the other dancers and remain serious even though I was nervous or shy. I communicated with other dancers through eye contact and body expression. I remained serious even when members of the audience or other dancers were distracting. I created a clear sequence of movement and was able to engage the audience completely through my performance.
Cooperation/Group Work I made little effort to contribute to the success of group. I was not attentive to others, and distracted others during class work and performance. I wasn’t prepared to contribute and showed little respect to group members. I was cooperative most of time, but not attentive or well prepared. I need to make more effort and treating my group members with respect.

I need to practice more self-control with talking and fooling around.

I was cooperative with other performers and teacher. I worked with focus and effort in class. Ready to perform. I gave attention to others involved in performance and own appearance on stage. I treated my group members with respect. I showed respect and consideration for other performers and teacher throughout the class and performance. I was prepared, well- rehearsed, attentive, and gave my partner (s) the utmost respect.
Overall Performance Dance looked as though we utilized little to no rehearsal time. Performance included little to no changes in tempo, space, moments of repetition, or enthusiasm. Dance looked as though we utilized some of the rehearsal time. Performance included 1 change of tempo, no spatial changes, 1 place of repetition, and enthusiasm. Dance looked as though we utilized most of the rehearsal time. Performance included 2 changes of tempo, 1 place of repetition, somewhat clear space change, and a good level of enthusiasm. Dance looked as though we utilized all of the rehearsal time. Performance included 2 or more very clear changes of tempo, 2 places of repetition, a very clear change of space, and high level of enthusiasm.
Effort Theory Ineffective/ no inclusion of Effort Theory- space, weight, time, and/or flow Minimal inclusion of Effort Theory- space, weight, time, and/or flow (Only one or two aspects) Moderate inclusion of Effort Theory- At least-  1 space, 1 weight, 1 time, and/or 1 flow Complete inclusion and understanding  of Effort Theory





What did I do well during rehearsal? During Performance? What can I improve on?


Did I participate/ contribute ideas as well as include others within the project? How?


Is there an aspect of the performance that I believe went well? Didn’t go as well?


Did I fully include all aspects of Effort Theory into performance? Explain how.


Drama English Bridge Continuation- Party Quirks

Lesson Plan Title: Drama English Bridge Continuation

Date: February 28, 2017   Subject: ELA/ Drama      Grade:  7/8        Topic: Drama

Materials: Bodies, Pen, Paper            Time: 1 hr. (Split into two 30 minute classes)

Essential Question: How does role playing using the dramatic arts function as a catalyst for learning about self, others, other subjects, and the world.

See Drama English Bridge- Party Quirks for BAL’s, CCC’s, Outcomes and Indicators, PGP goals, and assessment.

 Stage 1- Desired Results –

What do they need to understand, know, and/or able to do?

How does role playing help you learn about yourself, others, other subjects, and the world.

Demonstrate confidence and imagination

To further their knowledge of descriptive language

Stage 3- Learning Plan

Motivational/Anticipatory Set (introducing topic while engaging the students) (15 Mins)

-Hand back their papers.

-Talk about the host as a detective trying to ask questions and figure out who is at their party.

-Write possible questions to ask guests on the board.

Main Procedures/Strategies: (5 min explanation and 30 Mins activity (Split into 5 mins each))

1. Do a round as the host- ask teacher to choose the quirks for the students.

2. Write down some of the things I noticed about one character and write a sentence about them on the board to scaffold the style and detail of the hand-in assignment. (Clarification purposes as well)

See activity Party Quirks below.

1.      Each round consists of 4 people: 3 have quirks and there is one host. Students have approx. 5 mins to conduct the round (but they may not need the full amount of time).

2.      The audience will (on paper) provide a quick description of two characters (from any of the rounds to be handed in at the end of class).


-Varying difficulty of “quirks”

-Using drama to expand vocabulary (a different way to learn ELA rather than only worksheets)

-Whiteboard examples and questions to help students if they need a quick helper during the scene.

-Talking about the host as more of a detective for clarification purposes

Closing of lesson: (approx. 10 Mins)

– Identify and discuss the importance of focus to successful drama work.

– Explain how drama work helps to develop a deeper understanding of communication and interdependence. (Clarity, Focus, Intentions) (Could you do this exercise by yourself?)

-How does this lesson apply to your English Class?

How did your use of descriptive language enhance your ability to form a clearer mental picture of the character your classmates were creating?



M. Wilkinson ’16 *Adapted from Understanding by Design (McTighe and Wiggins, 1998)

Drama English Bridge- Party Quirks

Lesson Plan Title: Drama English Bridge                                                                                                  

Date: February 28, 2017   Subject: ELA/ Drama      Grade:  7/8        Topic: Drama

Materials: Bodies, Pen, Paper            Time: 1 hr. (Split into two 30 minute classes)

Essential Question: How does role playing using the dramatic arts function as a catalyst for learning about self, others, other subjects, and the world.

Stage 1- Desired Results – you may use student friendly language
What do they need to understand, know, and/or able to do?

How does role playing help you learn about yourself, others, other subjects, and the world.

Demonstrate confidence and imagination

To further their knowledge of descriptive language

Broad Areas of Learning:

Developing Lifelong Learners-

As students engage in meaningful cultural and artistic inquiry within schools and communities, they are able to gain a depth of understanding about the world and human experience that enables them to become more knowledgeable, confident, and creative lifelong learners.

Developing a Sense of Self and Community-

Students who possess a positive identity, and understand how their identity is shaped by their interactions with others and their environment, are able to nurture meaningful relationships, and appreciate various worldviews.

Developing Engaged Citizens-

Gives students multiple ways to express their views and to reflect on the perspectives and experiences of others. Students learn how to design, compose, problem solve, inspire change, and contribute innovative ideas that can improve the quality of their own lives and the lives of others.

Cross-Curricular Competencies:

Developing Thinking-

Understanding develops by building on what is already known, and by initiating and engaging in contextual thinking, creative thinking, and critical reasoning. Arts education also involves interdisciplinary thinking wherein students make connections among the arts and other disciplines. Arts education is taught and learned through an inquiry approach that engages students in thinking about big ideas, asking compelling questions, seeking information, investigating and applying disciplinary concepts, experimenting, problem solving, constructing understanding, communicating, and interpreting meaning through creative and critical thinking processes.

Think and learn contextually- Students have to demonstrate their understanding of the scenes that they have witnessed. They will also need to think how to shape their character contextually based on their quirk and who is running the party (Problem Solving and Communicating Skills)

Think and learn creatively- Students have to demonstrate creative thinking in the building and portrayal of their party quirk character. (Experimenting and Creating Skills)

Developing Identity and Interdependence-

Examines perspectives on social and cultural norms and expectations, and investigating the potential for individual and group accomplishments. It also assumes the possession of a positive self-concept and sense of identity, and the ability to live/ work in harmony with others and with the natural and constructed world (this is what they are creating).

Developing Literacies-

Addresses a variety of ways to interpret the world and express understanding through words, numbers, images, sounds, movements, and technologies in various situations. Literacies in arts education involve the ability to investigate, structure, and express ideas, and interpret meaning, using the specific language of each arts discipline (drama).

Developing Social Responsibility-

This competency addresses how people contribute positively to their physical, social, and cultural environments. It requires the ability to contribute to the well-being of self, others, and the natural world, and participate with others in accomplishing shared goals.


Grade 7’s

Arts (Drama)- CP7.4 Investigate how dramatic character develops from role.

– Demonstrate confidence and imagination when working in various roles.

– Investigate when in role how character may be expressed through actions.

– Demonstrate when in role how characters use actions or interact with others for different purposes.


Arts (Drama)- CP7.5 Use drama elements, strategies, negotiation, and collaboration to help shape the direction of the drama and/or collective creation.

– Identify and discuss the importance of focus to successful drama work.

– Explain how drama work helps to develop a deeper understanding of communication and interdependence.


ELA- CC7.8 Write to describe a person; to narrate an imaginary incident or story; to explain and inform in a news story, a factual account, and a business letter; to persuade in a letter and in interpretation of a text.

Grade 8’s

Arts (Drama)-CP8.4 Demonstrate how dramatic characters interact in relationships within the drama and/or collective creation

– Sustain belief in own roles and in the roles assumed by others for extended periods of time.

– Demonstrate confidence and curiosity when assuming different kinds of roles in drama work


Arts (Drama)- CP8.5 Investigate how theatrical elements (e.g., story, character, design, space) are combined to achieve dramatic purpose

-Demonstrate imagination when creating imaginary places and situations in own drama work.


ELA- CC8.8 Write to describe a landscape scene; to narrate a personal story or anecdote and a historical narrative; to explain and inform in a presentation of findings, a biography, a documented research report, and a résumé and covering letter; and to persuade in a mini-debate and a review.

Create descriptive texts (e.g., a landscape scene) as follows:

Present a clear and colourful picture of the place

Include sensory details and vivid words

Use a logical order (e.g., near to far).

PGP Goals:

1.2       ethical behaviour and the ability to work in a collaborative manner for the good of all learners– This lesson is a collaborative effort by the class to help one another learn descriptive language through doing a drama activity. Drama is, in almost all aspects, a collaborative approach and, through the use of drama, will allow the students to learn in a variety of ways such as kinesthetically, visually, and orally.

1.3       a commitment to social justice and the capacity to nurture an inclusive and equitable environment for the empowerment of all learners– In my opinion, this is the number one PGP goal for all drama classes. It is incredibly important to establish a safe space for students to learn. Drama is a great way to include all learners because of the variety of learning styles that drama touches on such as kinesthetically, visually, and orally. Therefore, students and teacher are able to help one another learn which, in turn, creates a positive learning environment for the empowerment of not only the students but the teacher as well.

2.4       ability to use technologies readily, strategically and appropriately– Use of the smartboard for the displaying of my own video as well as the incorporation of the IPads for students to use thesaurus.com.

2.5       knowledge of a number of subjects taught in Saskatchewan schools (disciplinary/interdisciplinary knowledge)- This lesson is a bridge between both Arts (Drama) and English curricular material.

3.1       the ability to utilize meaningful, equitable and holistic approaches to assessment and evaluation– By allowing the students to demonstrate their knowledge of descriptive language through drama activities, the students do not have to worry about getting marked on their drama skills and can adapt their knowledge of descriptive language to fit their situation without having to worry about if they are doing it “correctly.” Thus, this activity is a stress free way to help further their learning while getting feedback along the way.

3.2       the ability to use a wide variety of responsive instructional strategies and methodologies to accommodate learning styles of individual learners and support their growth as social, intellectual, physical and spiritual beings– By teaching descriptive language using drama activities rather than English worksheets for example.

4.1       knowledge of Saskatchewan curriculum and policy documents and applies this understanding to plan lessons, units of study and year plans using curriculum outcomes as outlined by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education– Through discussion of curricular goals and the implementation of the outcomes of both Arts (Drama) and English.

4.3       the capacity to engage in program planning to shape ‘lived curriculum’ that brings learner needs, subject matter, and contextual variables together in developmentally appropriate, culturally responsive and meaningful ways– By allowing the students to act out descriptive words and use them within their speech as a character. Using “Living Descriptions” to establish the English curriculums goal of description of a person.

Stage 2- Assessment
Assessment FOR Learning (formative) Assess the students during the learning to help determine next steps. 

Students are using more descriptive terminology within their vocabulary and their writing. They are using descriptive language in their description of the character from the scenes that they are witnessing. They are using their thesauruses to find other more colourful words to add to their descriptions.


Assessment OF Learning (summative) Assess the students after learning to evaluate what they have learned.

The end goal is to have the students write a descriptive essay. Currently, their vocabulary is lacking in this particular department and, thus, this drama activity is being used as an interesting/ fun way to incorporate descriptive language into the student’s vocabulary and writing.

Thus, students will submit a sheet of paper in which they will have used descriptive language to paint a picture of two characters they have witnessed in the improv scenes (without using the names of the students that portrayed that character). Our ability (the teachers within the classroom) to match the description with the student’s portrayals will be used to assess our next step in teaching the students the skills to use descriptive language in their work.

Stage 3- Learning Plan

 Motivational/Anticipatory Set (introducing topic while engaging the students) (15 Mins)

1.      Has anyone done drama before? –discuss why we do drama (See activities below for my view on this subject- Reason for Choosing). –discuss the benefits of doing drama (increased communication skills, (3 mins)

2.      Discuss the English Language Arts curricular goal for grade 7/8- description of a person (See Outcomes)

3.      Discuss the Drama goal of developing acting skills and how this fits with the ELA goal. (See Outcomes) (2 min)

4.      Do a “warm up circle” (Warming up: voice and body through various exercises Ex. Tongue Twisters, stretching, jumping jacks, etc…) (5 mins)

5.      See activity One Word At A Time/ One Sentence at a Time below. (5 Mins)

(This may not take the whole 15 mins depending on the understanding of the students and the fluidity of the two “warm up” activities. I gave it this amount of time as a precaution since it is their first time with drama.)

Main Procedures/Strategies: (5 min explanation and 30 Mins activity (Split into 5 mins each))

Show video of Whose Line is it Anyway? Party Quirks Game (2:43)


See activity Party Quirks below.

1.      Each round consists of 4 people: 3 have quirks and there is one host. Students have 5 mins to conduct the round (but they may not need the full amount of time).

2.      The audience will (on paper) provide a quick description of two characters (from any of the rounds to be handed in at the end of class).


Varying difficulty of “quirks” from abstract to concrete (Ex. An Angry Thundercloud vs. A Cowboy)

Can use the iPads to look at an online thesaurus and/ or type out their “response sheets.”

Using drama to expand vocabulary (a different way to learn ELA rather than only worksheets)(Also gets them up and moving rather than simply sitting in their desks all day)

Closing of lesson: (approx. 10 Mins)

– Identify and discuss the importance of focus to successful drama work.

– Explain how drama work helps to develop a deeper understanding of communication and interdependence. (Clarity, Focus, Intentions) (Could you do this exercise by yourself?)

-How does this lesson apply to your English Class?

-How did your use of descriptive language enhance your ability to form a clearer mental picture of the character your classmates were creating?


M. Wilkinson ’16 *Adapted from Understanding by Design (McTighe and Wiggins, 1998)

Name of the Activity:  One Word at a Time/ One Sentence at a Time

Type of Warmup/Activity: Voice (Vocal)

Reason For Choosing: This is a fun and often humorous activity that I believe students enjoy because they can creatively tell a story as a group. I find that this is a very easy group activity and everyone is willing to contribute at least a word (or sentence depending on variation). This is also a great way to explore other class material within the Drama classroom and allows them a safe space to explore these subjects in greater detail (more physical/ realistic than theoretical).

Skills Used: Concentration (Listening), Spontaneity, Creativity, Storytelling, Teamwork

Procedure: In a circle, students create a story with each person adding one word. This can be broken into a few small groups or even partners to create a faster paced dynamic.

Examples of a starting point are “Once – upon – a – time” or “On – Tuesday,”.

Ex.- On – Tuesday – I – bought – a – tiger – and – some – apples – then – I – ate – the – tiger – and – made – the – apples – my – pet. Etc…

Ex.2- A- On Tuesday, I bought a tiger.

  • I also bought apples.
  • I then decided I would eat the tiger.
  • After I ate the Tiger, I made the apples my pet. Etc…

It is important to stress that students should not try to block the story and keep ideas and options “free-flowing” (spontaneous) so that they do not force the story in any direction and instead try to build what their peers have set up.



  1. Use a tennis ball (whatever works) to throw// roll to the next person so it breaks the circle order and requires students to pay a little more attention.
  2. Instead of an “anything goes” type story, pick a theme and have the group try and fit within that theme. Ex. A really bad day, The world is being invaded by (Blank), Black Lives Matter (I understand this could be controversial but something along this line makes students aware of issues surrounding our world and makes them more “worldly”).


  1. Creative/ Productive- This activity is works on student’s participation in building a story as a group and working together. It fosters creative responses by requiring students to think on the spot and further the dialogue they are creating together.
  2. Cultural/ Historical- (See Variation 2) If the second variation is chosen, it is possible to incorporate a cultural theme into the story building exercise. For example, a story about the Holocaust could be created within this way (A day in the life of a person trapped in a concentration camp). Students could create a story based on prewritten characters from various mediums (television, memoirs, history textbooks, etc..), or they could create a character based on a story they create in class.
  3. Critical/ Responsive- A journal entry on the attempt of the group to create a cohesive story could be done. If Variation 2 is done, a response to the effectiveness, believability, and impact of the story could be done. I believe that this would be hugely beneficial to the students and would help solidify components of their other classes (ex. History, English, Social Studies, etc..). This reflection could then be used to supplement their other work and will help them better understand those subjects.

Cross Curricular Competencies (Or Common Essential Learnings):

Communication -organizing instruction which allows students to bring forward prior knowledge and/or to make connections with other school learning
-creating opportunities for students to express their ideas in a variety of ways, allowing them to learn from other students’ thinking and to demonstrate their present understanding
-providing opportunities for students to reflect through questioning, discussion and journal writing


Personal and Social Values and Skills -exploring varied cultural content
-exploring the themes, characters and conflicts in improvisations, collective creations and plays to foster greater understanding of various cultures, to develop understanding of people and to develop an awareness of discrimination or bias when present


Independent Learning -planning experiences which lead to independent exploration or require students to go

beyond what the class lesson provides

Outcomes:                                                            Indicators:

Acquire increased knowledge of others, themselves and the world around them -recall and respond to drama



Exercise critical thought and support opinions when responding to dramatic presentations



-understand the historical and cultural

influences on a play

Understand the role of drama in various cultures, past and present -understand that theatre, past and

present, can teach us about ourselves

-understand that theatre reflects the

society that creates it


Name of the Activity:  Party Quirks

Type of Warmup/Activity: Acting/Improvisation

Reason For Choosing: I love this activity because it is an immense amount of fun and students always love it. Even the students that generally are not as eager to participate are drawn into the silliness and sometimes difficulty of this exercise. It is also more recognizable because it was featured on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and students can watch some of that to help boost their own ideas previous (or after) the exercise. This activity allows the students to begin an exploration into the building of a character as well as the “ticks” that many of us have (Ex. a greaser that is always slicking his hair back with a comb). This activity is an excellent accumulation of voice, movement, and acting skills translated into a quick character within a short improv scene.

Skills Used: Voice, Movement, Improvisation, Creativity, Spontaneity, Communication

Procedure: (Create a list of different characters for the students to portray- see attached list)

One student is designated as the party host. They have to try improv preparing a party for their guests (Ex. putting chips in a bowl, baking cookies, blowing balloons etc…) while the guests create/pick their character. The host also has the responsibility of letting in the guests and then trying to guess who they are, what their ailment is, or what “thing” they are (Ex. Donald Trump, a cowboy, claustrophobic, an angry thundercloud, etc…).

Approximately three students create (or pick from a hat) different characters that are “invited” to the party. The students have to embody their choice to try and make it understandable to the audience and the host (Ex. a man turning into a werewolf is different than simply being a dog). The party host generally will ask questions about their guest to try and figure out what they are (Ex. How did you get to the party?, What type of food do you like to eat?, What is your favorite thing about parties?, etc…). The guests do not leave the party until the host has correctly guessed their character (or close enough to ex. Saddle Bronc Rider for cowboy).


  1. If students are finding it too easy to guess characters, make it more difficult by adding qualities or characteristics such as Elegance, Warmth, and/ or Perseverance.


  1. Creative/ Productive- This activity is an active exploration, development, and expression of ideas through improvisational scenes.
  2. Cultural/ Historical- Only give historical/cultural figures as characters (ex. Albert Einstein, Ghandi, George Washington, ALEXANDER HAMILTON (there’s a million things he hasn’t done…), William Shakespeare, Wendigo (Cree culture), Gautama Buddha, Jesus, etc…)
  3. Critical/ Responsive- Discuss what made the guests successful in portraying character or what could be improved. Journal about the individuals attempt and what they were try to portray within their character.



Cross Curricular Competencies (Or Common Essential Learnings):

Communication – organizing instruction which allows students to bring forward prior knowledge and/or to make connections with other school learning
– casting himself or herself in the role of observer and listener in order to gather students’ ideas to better plan future learning experiences
Personal and Social Values and Skills -exploring the themes, characters and conflicts in improvisations, collective creations and plays to foster greater understanding of various cultures, to develop understanding of people and to develop an awareness of discrimination or bias when present
Independent Learning – encouraging use of resources both inside and outside the school by inviting dramatic artists to the classroom, collecting newspaper clippings, using magazine articles,

visiting theatres, viewing plays and television shows or news reports, etc.

-providing time for students to share in class what they have discovered at home about a particular concept that was introduced in the Drama class.

Outcomes:                                                            Indicators:

Develop acting skills – assume and sustain roles
– develop increasing commitment to their own roles and the roles of others
-express themselves confidently (and clearly) through movement and gesture
-express themselves confidently through speech


Exercise critical thought and support opinions when responding to dramatic presentations -develop an understanding of how plays

are made



Understand the role of drama in

various cultures, past and present

-understand that today’s dramatic artists are influenced by various theatre traditions


-understand that theatre can influence the society in which it is created

Descriptive: (See other list)

  1. A weightless astronaut that moves as though he is on the moon
  2. A man slowly turning into a bloodthirsty werewolf
  3. A clumsy thief that has to hid things in his sock
  4. An overly excitable man that agrees 100% with anything that is said
  5. A classy businessman that looks down on everything with disgust
  6. An eccentric (peculiar) woman that believes
  7. A clumsy baby that stumbles around trying to learn how to walk.
  8. Re-enacting a slow motion fight scene

(A Few) Party Quirks Options

  • Slowly turning into a werewolf
  • Afraid of People
  • Neat Freak
  • Gets Angry Easily
  • Cries Easily
  • Overactive
  • Paranoid
  • Needs Attention
  • Incredibly Talkative
  • Jock
  • Steals Food
  • Always Sings Christmas Songs
  • Gossip
  • A Baby Learning to Walk
  • Moves in Slow Motion
  • Repeats People’s Names a Lot
  • Thinks Everything was Harder Back when He or She was a Child
  • Always Agrees
  • Always Disagrees
  • Terrified of Germs
  • Only Speaks Three Words at a Time
  • Always Dancing
  • Talks Like a Pirate
  • No Short Term Memory
  • Pick Pocket
  • Extremely Conceited
  • Obsessed with Astronomy
  • Obsessed with Pets
  • Airhead
  • Claustrophobic
  • Loves the Environment
  • Has Poison Ivy All Over
  • Wizard
  • Vampire that faints at the sight of blood
  • Cowboy or Cowgirl
  • Person who thinks he/she is a cat
  • Michael Jackson afraid it is Thriller Night
  • Donald Trump
  • An Angry Thundercloud
  • Astronaut with an alien inside of him
  • Slowly turning into the Hulk
  • Mime having a heart attack
  • Fish being caught and reeled in
  • Thinks every bump is an earthquake
  • In a kayak going down white water rapids
  • Part of the Jamaican bobsled team
  • A fly
  • Stuntman
  • The evolution of a tadpole into becoming a frog
  • Famous Hockey Player
  • Always has an idea but then immediately forgets it
  • Addicted to coffee
  • A sloth
  • Afraid of a specific word (ex. party)
  • A little teacup trying to get poured out
  • Has to sniff everything
  • Ends every sentence with an upward inflection hinting at a question (Ex. Bees?)
  • Continuously checking the time (watch, clock, phone, etc..)
  • Can’t stop touching people’s faces
  • Tries to hold everyone’s hand without them noticing
  • Interrupts people regularly
  • Over pronounces their words (every word is articulated fully)
  • Keeps mispronouncing everyone’s name/ town/ food item
  • Continuously sweating
  • Only drinks out of a straw (food has to be blended so he can eat it through his straw)
  • Keeps singing songs from the rap musical Alexander Hamilton
  • Always asks how much it will cost and tries to pay in nickels
  • Trying to recruit everyone into their cult
  • Speaks almost exclusively in movie, TV, and/or music quotes
  • Any celebrity, movie or TV character, musicians, etc…


  1. Student suggestions work too! I added substantially to this list after doing this with students. (They make some pretty amazing connections!)
  2. Some of these may be inappropriate depending on grade and maturity level as well as student ability
  3. These are fully adaptable and can be added to at any time (as I did in the descriptive section above this list)

Why Is Drama Important?

Why is drama important? Why do we teach drama in school? Do drama or the arts matter? These questions are not difficult to answer, yet there is a large amount of people that do not know or understand why drama is taught in schools. In a world that is ever changing to focus more on the sciences, it is increasingly difficult to argue the benefits of drama. As a student with a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in drama, I could give a million reasons why drama is important. I have had to fight everyday to justify my profession and my passion to my peers, my elders, and the very university where I received my education. I believe that, through looking at the arguments against drama, the very essence of why drama is so important is revealed.

The first argument is that everyone can speak so why should we have to learn it. Time and time again you hear the same old tired scenarios: “Today we will be learning about…” says the professor in a hushed tone that makes a whisper jealous. “I need your undivided attention…” he says as he stares at the floor not noticing that his entire class is sleeping. Why is he staring at the floor? Why is he talking so quietly? Everyone knows that isn’t the qualities of a good speaker so why is this happening? Every person has had this experience whether it was a teacher, a relative, or a presenter and the list goes on and on. The reason this still happens is because, although we all learn how to speak, we do not learn how to speak in front of people so that they listen and are engaged. Public speaking is a skill that is difficult to learn even though it is an integral part of our society. Drama teaches students to speak in a manner that excites the senses and bolsters the confidence of the speaker. Drama allows students the freedom to express themselves in a safe environment that allows them to take chances that are not available to test in public. Allowing for mistakes as well as successes allows the speaker to gain valuable self-confidence in themselves as both a speaker and a person. This raises the student’s self-efficacy and allows them to speak in a more confident manner in all facets of their life. If everyone was allowed the same safe exploration that drama can provide, there wouldn’t be the old cliché of someone who knows everything about the material except how to make it exciting or interesting.

Creating an engaging speaker is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the effects of drama on communication. Once again, looking at the scenario above, the professor was unable to read the body language of the room or even notice that his class had “left the building.” Through studying drama, students learn to read the body language of their scene partners and can adapt that knowledge into “real world” scenarios such as interviews or dates. Drama allows students a safe environment to play out possible situations that they have or may encounter within their everyday lives that they may be anxious or apprehensive about without fear of the repercussions. Students effectively get a chance to practice “real life” scenarios which allows them to be more confident in their problem solving and speaking skills. Furthermore, it gives them invaluable experience reading nonverbal clues. It has been said that between 60-90% of all communication is nonverbal. Reading body language helps students pick up on social cues that allow them to quickly and smoothly change a potentially awkward situation. An example is approaching someone from behind and seeing they have slumped shoulders and are staring at their feet. Being adept at reading body language allows the person to understand that it would be more appropriate to ask if they are ok compared to walking up and saying “Great day isn’t it!!” In a world that has become so connected by and to technology, we have become disconnected from one another and our feelings. Drama gives speakers the chance to connect with people through advanced communication methods and gives people a way to connect through more than just words.

The second argument is that drama is easy and holds no merit in comparison to other “important” subjects such as science or math. Drama incorporates traits from the four types of VARK learner models: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. This helps students identify which type of learner they are and, in turn, helps them in every other aspect of school and further into their personal lives. It also allows different students to shine in the variety of drama activities that are targeted to the learning models (See Drama Activities Voice, Movement, and/or Acting). Through drama, students gain the necessary knowledge and confidence that allows them to excel in other subjects such as the sciences. In this regard, drama can be seen as an essential building block in learning because it builds confidence, self-efficacy, relationships, empathy, life skills, emotional intelligence, and so much more. Without a strong foundation anchored by the skills one learns in the drama classroom, many students will fall through the cracks and be unable to unlock their full potential. Further, drama allows students to develop all areas of Bloom’s Taxonomy throughout the class and gives students the skillsets that allow them to function on a higher level within not only the classroom but all facets of their life. When looking at drama through this lens, it is impossible not to see the link between drama and all other classes taught. Drama was never meant to be “hard.” Just as playing hockey or coding is easy for some people, drama may be easier for others. Yet, truly understanding and appreciating drama as both an art form and a learning tool is the especially difficult part. However, drama can be the Swiss Army Knife of skillsets that allow students to unlock their true potential and rise above a mediocre base education.

Before you knock it, go and experience a drama class. Who knows, maybe a small thread of this beautiful artistic tapestry will needle its way into your heart. Yet, it is up to those who do understand the work and commitment involved in drama and the arts as a whole to fight for it in whatever capacity they can. No matter how hard “the man” tries to stomp out the arts, the arts will not die because creativity is contained within every person. Drama gives that creativity room to grow and helps deliver those who accept it to new heights. I will fight tooth and nail for the arts especially drama to be taught to students because it made me the person I am today and gave me a skillset that I have been able to carry over into all aspects of my life. To me, drama is discovery, connection, and most of all, life. This is why drama is important.