Project Title: Stupid Criminal Genre Study
Project Overview: We focus on genres and the characteristics of each genre in this unit. We read The Great Taos Bank Robbery by Tony Hillerman at the end of our non-fiction unit. We use this as a jumpstart to our comparison of genre characteristics to focus on the similarities and differences in various genres and an author would change his or her writing for audience expectations.
Software Used: Microsoft Word, Internet (for costume and set ideas)
Subject and Grade Level: Literature (I use it in the 10th grade, but it could go in whichever grade you choose to do the assessments.)
Intergrated Subject Areas Also Covered: This unit can be adapted to fit a history discussion about historical events and the way they are presented in documentaries or movies.
Standards: 12.1.3 genres, 12.1.5 fiction elements, 12.1.6 non-fiction structure, 12.1.8 media analysis, 12.2.1 conventions, 12.2.2 focus, 12.2.3 revision and editing, 12.2.4 audience, 12.3.2 presentations
Example: Stupid Criminal Fiction
Suggestions: Break the class into groups of 4 or 5 students each and have each student be responsible for a specific portion of the play. (For example, student 1 will type the script even though the entire group writes it together, student 2 will be in charge of props, student 3 will be in charge of set construction, and student 4 will be in charge of costumes) I also emphasize that this is a performance so parts must be memorized, but it’s not a competition so groups can work together to share set pieces and props.
Materials needed: copies of a play for each student to see drama conventions, paint and paper for set, props the students choose
Lesson Plans/Directions: After students have read The Great Taos Bank Robbery by Tony Hillerman, we take the non-fiction assessment (that’s the last of a series of non-fiction pieces). The next thing that we do is discuss movies that we have viewed that have been “adapted from actual events”. We brainstorm what types of adaptations have been made and why. We also discuss how the genre of drama differs from that of non-fiction. After our discussion of genres, we revisit Taos and put the events in chronological order. Then we discuss what we would want to know more about if we were watching a movie about the subject. The final thing that we do for the first day is break into groups and delegate the responsibilities.
After the first day, I assign due dates and give them the rubric for how they will be graded. Students break into their group and begin writing their scene for our class play. Each group must have dialogue, stage directions, props, set suggestions, and costume suggestions. I also assign each group one “dramatic convention” [aside, siloquey, freeze, etc.] Students are given the rest of that day and one other work day for the scripts. After the scripts are written, I allow them two days for props, set, costumes, etc. Anything extra is done on their own time.
After all the pre-production work is done, I allow the students two practice days. The script must be memorized (which is usually easily done since they wrote the script.) We put the scenes in chronological order and have one large practice day. On the actual performance, we usually invite another class to view as our audience.
The final portion of the genre study is going over the characteristics of fiction. We focus on the five parts of plot, character development, setting, and dialect (emphasizing the difference between dialect and dialogue). We then write our own fictional ‘stupid criminal’ story. This is our introduction to our fiction unit and we also take the genre assessment based on our work.