Welcome to the module that will introduce you to the newly adopted Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for middle school theatre. This module will cover the basic processes and concepts taught in middle school theatre, as well as compare the original TEKS with the newly revised TEKS.
As in the earlier grades, the strands provide structure for the TEKS. Middle school theatre courses build on the standards in the elementary theatre TEKS by continuing to nurture creativity and by also offering an expectation of knowledge and skills such as audience etiquette and production elements.
In middle school, students begin moving from creative drama to formal theatre. Though the emphasis through Middle School, Theatre 1 remains on creative drama, curriculum in Middle School, Theatre 2 and 3 begins to focus on interpretation and performance. Students gain a more in-depth understanding of theatrical elements, principles, and conventions and develop their acting skills. Activities that use dramatic subtexts begin to develop more complex characterizations. Nurturing the seeds that were planted in elementary school creative drama, improvisation skills are applied to unscripted prompts.
In middle school, students begin to examine scripts, learn basic acting techniques, and explore aspects of technical theatre. Reading scripted materials, students analyze characters, study dialogue, and design stage movements to solve theatrical problems. Through research, creative thinking, problem solving, and improvisation, middle school students not only acquire the knowledge and skills to be successful in theatre, but also begin to develop the self-discipline required to accomplish long- and short-term goals.
Middle school theatre tasks:
- Analyze characters
- Study dialogue
- Design stage movement
- Solve problems
- Think creatively
By the end of this lesson, you should be able to do all of the following:
- Identify differences between the original and revised middle school theatre TEKS
- Articulate some of the guiding principles behind the revised middle school theatre TEKS
- Revise current lesson designs in order to align them to the revised middle school theatre TEKS
Please take a moment to review the revised middle school theatre TEKS which were adopted in 2013. You can also compare the revised TEKS with the original TEKS in the middle school TEKS comparison. Refer to this chart as we look at some of the changes in each strand.
Please also review the middle school theatre TEKS alignment chart, which shows how skills are scaffolded from one grade level to another.
Original and Revised TEKS
There are many changes between the original and revised theatre TEKS. However, we do not have to examine each one. All of the fine arts TEKS were revised through the lens of creativity—on the art of theatre-making rather than the craft of theatre-making. Just because children are making something, doesn't necessarily mean they are being creative. The reason for the focus on creativity is the understanding that developing creativity through the fine arts is central to student achievement and sound child development. In the revised TEKS, the important skills learned in theatre are essential skills for student learning across academic domains as well as for lifelong success.
Overview of the Strands
This module will focus on the Theatre, Middle School 1 TEKS. Please click on the link to the course discovery Middle School 1 theatre for an overview of how each strand could be taught and examples of what using the revised strands might look like in the classroom. Take a moment to review the charts before we discuss each strand. Keep the charts handy to refer back to them as we review each strand. You may also want to review Theatre Middle School 2 and Theatre Middle School 3.
Foundations: inquiry and understanding
The student develops concepts about self, human relationships, and the environment using elements of drama and conventions of theatre.
Creative expression: performance
The student interprets characters using the voice and body expressively and creates dramatizations.
Creative expression: production
The student applies design, directing, and theatre production concepts and skills.
Historical and cultural relevance
The student relates theatre to history, society, and culture.
Critical evaluation and response
The student responds to and evaluates theatre and theatrical performances.
Foundations: Inquiry and Understanding
The first strand in all theatre courses, which was previously called Perception, is now Foundations: inquiry and understanding. The student develops concepts about self, human relationships, and the environment using elements of drama and conventions of theatre. The student is expected to identify theatrical vocabulary and terminology, including basic anatomy of theatre spaces. The revised TEKS are more specific about skills students should be using in a middle school theatre classroom or performance space.
One example of the changes in student expectations:
|Original TEKS||Revised TEKS|
Theatre, Grade 6 (c)(1) Perception. The student develops concepts about self, human relationships, and the environment, using elements of drama and conventions of theatre. The student is expected to:
(E) imitate and synthesize life experiences in dramatic play.
Theatre, Middle School 1 (c)(1) Foundations: inquiry and understanding. The student develops concepts about self, human relationships, and the environment using elements of drama and conventions of theatre. The student is expected to:
(E) identify theatrical vocabulary and terminology, including basic anatomy of theatre spaces imitate and synthesize life experiences in dramatic play.
Creative Expression: Performance
Note that these new student expectations will have an impact on your classroom. As you look at the strands, think about what activities and lessons you will develop or revise in order to meet these revised TEKS. Students in middle school are expected to use their theatrical skills and knowledge to interpret characters, environments, and actions.
Two revised student expectations in the Creative expression: performance strand:
Theatre, Middle School 1 (c)(2)(E) express emotions and ideas using interpretive movements and dialogue; and
Theatre, Middle School 1 (c)(2)(F) create environments, characters, and actions.
Creative Expression: Production
Note how this student expectation for the Creative expression: production strand has changed from the original TEKS. Also critical is the major change in student expectation (D) which now includes the use of technology in theatre applications. The revised TEKS include many changes which make the standards more relevant to technology advances that have occurred since the original TEKS.
Strand 3: Creative expression: production
|Original TEKS||Revised TEKS|
Theatre, Grade 6 (c)(3) Creative expression/performance. The student applies design, directing, and theatre production concepts and skills. The student is expected to:
(A) define character, environment, action, and theme, using props, costumes, and visual elements collaboratively and safely;
Theatre, Middle School 1 (c)(3) Creative expression/performance: production. The student applies design, directing, and theatre production concepts and skills. The student is expected to:
(A) define create character, environment, action, and theme collaboratively through the safe use of using props, costumes, and visual elements collaboratively and safely;
Historical and Cultural Relevance
Higher-level thinking skills are now demanded of students in the fourth strand: Historical and cultural relevance. Students are now required to relate theatre to history, society, and culture. The second student expectation in this strand requires the student to not only identify and understand the influences of theatre, film, television, and electronic media but to explore the developments and works created by those influences.
Historical and Cultural Relevance
|Original TEKS||Revised TEKS|
Theatre Grade 6 (c)(4) Historical/cultural heritage. The student comprehends the relationship of theatre to history, society, and culture. The student is expected to:
(B) explain the role of theatre, film, television, and electronic media in American society.
Theatre Middle School 1 (c)(4) Historical and cultural relevance. The student relates theatre to history, society, and culture. The student is expected to:
(B) explore the influences of theatre, film, television, and electronic media such as key developments, figures, and works in society.
Critical Evaluation and Response
This revised student expectation in the Critical evaluation and response strand requires the student to respond to and evaluate theatre and theatrical performances. Learning and exhibiting appropriate audience etiquette remains a focal point of this strand, as well as responding both orally and in writing to observed performances. The student is also expected to examine theatrical occupations and the strand specifically provides examples that students may not have previously known about.
An example of a revised student expectation in Critical Evaluation and Response:
|Original TEKS||Revised TEKS|
Theatre, Grade 6 (c)(5) Response/evaluation. The student responds to and evaluates theatre and theatrical performances. The student is expected to:
(D) compare selected occupations in theatre.
Theatre, Middle School 1 (c)(5) Critical evaluation and response. The student responds to and evaluates theatre and theatrical performances. The student is expected to:
(D) examine compare selected occupations in theatre such as director, stage manager, actor, designer, running crew, front of house, and educator.
How Lessons Change with the Revised TEKS
Download the grade 8 lesson. This lesson sample is based on the original TEKS. Take a moment to look at the activities and the corresponding TEKS student expectations. How has the teacher revised the lesson to be aligned with the new student expectation. What do you notice?
|Original Lesson||Revised Lesson|
TITLE: Vocal Mechanics
TITLE: Exploring my voice
Now download the grade 7 lesson. Take this lesson based on the original TEKS and revise it based on the revised student expectation shown. What are some ways you can revise the lesson based on the specificity of the student expectation? How might you incorporate creativity and meaning? In what ways might your assessment change?
The language "create" in the student expectation inherently heightens the opportunity for creativity for the student. In instructional activities, in the lesson based on the original TEKS, the teacher set the parameters and students draw a character from a jar (characters that the teacher has already defined.)
In a revised lesson, teachers might consider asking students to brainstorm settings and characters, then placing them in a jar. The revised TEKS intend to provide every opportunity for creativity possible. There are no correct answers. This is just an opportunity to explore how you might modify an existing lesson to meet the revised TEKS.
How Lessons Change with the Revised TEKS: Your Turn
Download the interactive PDF to record your responses to the following questions:
- What are some ways you could revise the lesson based on the specificity of the student expectation?
- How could you incorporate creativity and personal meaning into these lessons?
- In what ways might assessment change when lessons are aligned to the revised TEKS?
Theatre: Middle School 1, 2, and 3
The revised TEKS allow for three levels of theatre—Theatre, Middle School 1, 2, and 3. Notice the revised TEKS are no longer tied to grade level. Generally, students who choose to take theatre for the first time in middle school will enroll in Theatre, Middle School 1 then progress through Theatre, Middle School 2 and 3. Each course addresses all areas of the TEKS and appropriately integrates the strands to make content relevant for students.
Students in theatre courses can also be arranged by demonstrated student proficiency rather than by grade level. Students who have had private instruction or prior experience may demonstrate proficiency beyond the expectations for a particular course level. Establishing criteria for determining proficiency is a helpful tool in scheduling and instruction. To view how the strands are articulated for each course and examples of what this looks like in the classroom, refer to the course discovery middle school theatre.
The Revised TEKS with Special Education Considerations
Theatre classes provide students with special needs great opportunities to be part of the group. Many of the activities students engage in during theatre classes will require minimal accommodations because they are already individualized, such as activities that use the imagination in role play or pantomiming emotions; however, others will likely require accommodations for some students:
- Students with physical disabilities may require modifications of body positions used in pantomime.
- Students with reading disabilities may require additional time, support of a paraprofessional, or a reading buddy.
- Students with auditory perception challenges may need a recording to listen to an oral presentation or oral instructions repeatedly.
- Students with speech disorders may not feel comfortable performing in front of the whole class, but may start just presenting to the teacher and then working up to a small group.
- Students who have memory problems may need written or oral/aural prompts in performances.
Theatre teachers make accommodations for 504 and special education students on a regular basis, allowing all students to take part in and benefit from theatre instruction. Along with all other teachers, a theatre educator needs professional development regarding 504 and special education accommodations in order to make connections across all disciplines for special needs students. Theatre teachers need to be aware of all accommodations required for their students and have easy access to students' plans as well as the resources needed to accommodate all student needs.
The Revised TEKS with Considerations for English Language Learners (ELLs)
The Texas Education Agency's Linguistic Instructional Alignment Guide is a rich resource for you as you strive to ensure that all students are achieving maximum benefit from theatre class and that linguistically accommodated instruction for ELLs includes the use of supplementary materials, different types of instructional delivery, and tasks based on the students' current level of language proficiency.
Some accommodations that may assist the ELL student in the classroom are:
- Respect that the student may not feel comfortable reading aloud, so do not require it.
- Use multiple visuals, peer support, and pre-taught vocabulary to improve understanding of new content.
- Use varied cooperative groups for learning new content and practicing use of language in a variety of contexts.
- Assign research projects that will stretch the ELL student's vocabulary and understanding of theatre history.
To help students connect learning, teachers can incorporate the four language domains in theatre curriculum.
The Four Language Domains
Listening is the ability to understand spoken language, comprehend and extract information, and follow social and instructional discourse through which information is provided.
Speaking is the ability to use spoken language appropriately and effectively in learning activities and social interactions.
Reading is the ability to comprehend and interpret written text at the grade-appropriate level.
Writing is the ability to produce written text with content and format to fulfill grade-appropriate classroom assignments.
The revised TEKS have been designed to engage and motivate all students through active learning, critical thinking, and innovative problem solving. Middle school students are encouraged to be creative and are led to discover and understand cultural and historical relevance so that they can begin to make real-world connections.
As the middle school theatre TEKS progress, there is a distinct shift from creative drama into more conventional theatre practices and production. As students make this shift, they will be required to demonstrate their theatrical vocabulary, create complex characters through script and text analysis, employ problem-solving during production, effectively communicate and collaborate, and think critically about their own and others’ performance. Through these demonstrations of skill present in the revised TEKS, coupled with thoughtful instruction, middle school students will be well-prepared to meet the increased rigor of high school theatre courses. More importantly, students will develop a foundation of self-discipline, creativity, and adaptability that can apply across all content areas.
Extend Your Learning: Tools and Resources
There are many resources and professional development to help align a district's curriculum and teacher instruction to the revised middle school theatre TEKS. Listed on this slide are a few that will be beneficial to creating and developing a program. Take a moment to review each one. Bookmark these resources or some of the others used in this module, such as the middle school theatre TEKS alignment chart, the middle school theatre TEKS comparison, or the course discovery middle school theatre.
Tools and Resources
- Middle School Fine Arts TEKS
- Drama Games for Kids
- Drama Warm Ups and Circle Games
- Improv Games
Professional Development Opportunities for Theatre Teachers
- Texas Education Theatre Association http://www.tetatx.com/