|Grade span:||4 to 12|
|Duration:||Two to three 45-minute sessions|
Description:This lesson is one example of how you can implement the practice of Making Connections to History and Culture. In this activity, students examine early explorers in history and do a role-play, taking on the character of an explorer and other key personnel, and learning about the political and social settings in which the explorer lived.
- Use improvisation to explore the concepts of motivation and persuasion
- Investigate and understand various explorers and key voyages in history
- Use character motivation to better understand historical periods
- Writing materials (paper, pencils, pens)
- Internet access (optional) or books about the early explorers (for example The Explorers Who Got Lost by Diane Sansevere-Dreher and/or Around the World in a Hundred Years by Jean Fritz)
- Review basic drama concepts, including characterization and motivation.
- Review drama activities that demonstrate character motivation.
- Collect research materials (articles or books) about early explorers.
What to Do:Session 1
- Discuss the concept of character motivation with your class. Actors often consider the reasons their character might do something, and use that to guide how they perform the action. To demonstrate, or warm up, have students role-play the following situation: One person has water, and another person needs water. Give three students three different (secret) reasons for needing water (e.g., thirsty after a long hike, needing to sooth a burn, needing to put out a small fire, etc.).
- Discuss what made each role-play effective (words, gestures, actions, etc.)
- Ask students to consider early explorers like Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan. What would an explorer would need to make their journey, and who might they have to persuade? For example:
- A crew willing to sail into the unknown
- People to invest money in a risky venture
- Family members who would need to wait anxiously and patiently for their return
- Divide the class into small groups. Let each group choose an explorer and give students time to read about or research their explorer. Ask students to brainstorm and write a list of the people an explorer would need to persuade and what some of their persuasive arguments might be. Save these lists for the next session.
- Re-visit the discussion about explorers from Session 1. Discuss the lists they created about explorers and the persuasive arguments they might have made. Ask groups to think about the more persuasive arguments. Which would be the most exciting argument to see acted out? What words and actions might convey the passion and desire of the explorer?
- Ask each group to select a persuasive scene to depict. Have them write a script or improvise dialogue and actions between the explorers and the people he or she wishes to persuade for the exploration.
- Have groups present their scenes before the class. Allow the audience to critique the scenes, pointing out particularly effective moments and suggestions for improvement.
Evaluate (Outcomes to look for):
- Student participation and engagement
- Scenes that reflect demonstrate an understanding of character motivation
- Scenes that reflect and demonstrate an understanding of the early explorers in history
Click this link to see additional learning goals, grade-level benchmarks, and standards covered in this lesson.