Writing a Group Play: Collaborative Creative Writing

Writing a Group Play: Collaborative Creative Writing
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1 MB|19 pages (Word), 40 slides (PowerPoint)
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Lesson Plan and Rationale

Rationale and Overview
One of the units that I do in my creative writing class is to have my students create a ten-minute play. I do this prior to my short story unit so that students will have had practice developing characters, working through a plot, writing dialogue, and focusing action in a narrative structure. Prior to their writing their own play, I have them write a play in groups of two or three to get them used to the process and structure of playwriting. Below is the process I have students follow. After they finish the play, I give them a week to practice so that they can present the play for the class. Then, I have them create their own plays. One of the things that I have discovered is that I have to insist that they have no more than two settings because they do not understand the limitations inherent in producing a play.
Every day of the unit, we read a ten-minute play and briefly discuss it focusing on the main desire of the protagonist and how that desire is blocked. This helps students find a way to focus plot. I have included a blank version of the handout we use to analyze plot.
I have also included the notes that students take covering character and plot peer evaluation sheets, and the rubric for the final draft of the plays.

Objectives
Students will develop a character using a set of character questions.
Students will collaborate on a plot using each other’s characters by filling out a plot planning sheet.
Students will collaborate to produce a play script.
Students will critique other groups’ plays by filling out a critique sheet.
(Students will act out a play that they have written.)

Materials
Character notes and PowerPoint
Plot notes and PowerPoint
Character sheet
Plot sheet
Settings cards for choosing settings (folded so students will choose a setting randomly)
Peer evaluation sheets
Play rubrics
Procedures
Prior to students writing their play:
1. Have students take the notes on character.
2. Have students fill out a character sheet for a character they would like to work with.
3. Have students take notes on plot.
4. Make slips of the following settings for the groups to use as settings:
A talk show
A cabin in the woods
An SUV with children’s toys
A library
A police station
A doctor’s office
A cab/an Uber
An abandoned house
A break room at a factory
A classroom
5. Divide the class into groups of two or three students.
6. Make copies of student character sheets so that everyone in the group has a copy.

After following the procedures above, hand out the instructions for writing the group play:
Instructions for Students:
Step one
Read the character sheets for each person in the group’s character.
Step two
One member of the group chooses the setting by picking one of the setting cards (without knowing what it says).
Step three
Based on the other characters and the setting, decide what each character wants.
Step four
Based on the characters’ desires, come up with a central conflict for a short play based on these characters and setting. This conflict MUST be based on the characters’ main desire as decided in step three.
Step five
Fill out a plot sheet based on the conflict in step four.
Step six
Write a play of approximately ten pages (one minute per page when acted out) based on this set of steps.

After students write plays:
1. Have students present plays, either through production or by having the group read the plays.
(If they are to read the plays, have them put them in the template.)
2. Have students fill out critique sheets based on this production or reading.
3. Have students revise plays.
4. Have students put plays into the template.
5. Students hand in character sheets, plot sheets, and plays to be evaluated via the play rubric.

Evaluation
Peer evaluation
Formal evaluation via rubric.

Follow up
Students write their own plays.
Total Pages
19 pages (Word), 40 slides (PowerPoint)
Answer Key
N/A
Teaching Duration
2 Weeks
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$8.00
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