Themed Curriculum Lesson grade 8
This lesson plan is part of a vertical curriculum centered around the theme of entertainment.


Unit:  Students will read the play version of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett.  Throughout the unit we will focus on the elements of theater, building background knowledge, and character.


Lesson Title:  Characters Who Entertain


Grade:  8


Lesson Introduction:  Students have already learned about major and minor characters, character traits, and characterization.  They are also familiar with the characters of the play, their backgrounds, traits, and the situation in which they find themselves during the Holocaust.  In this lesson their understanding of characters will deepen by analyzing character motivation.


Core Curriculum Content Standards:  Visual & Performing Arts1.2, 1.3


Cross Curriculum Connections:  Language Arts 3.1, 3.3

     Social Studies 6.1, 6.3, 6.9




  • The student will be able to assess character motivations within the construct of scripted plays.
  • Analyze scenes with regard to character and motivation.
  • Work in small groups in planning and rehearsing scripted scenes, demonstrating social, group, and consensus skills.



·        The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett

·        Copy of script on audiotape

·        Videotape of any situation comedy

·        VCR and television

·        Handout

·        Handout on overhead transparency

·        Overhead projector and markers

·        Pencils

·        Costumes and props optional or to be provided by students



          Anticipatory Set:  Ask for a student volunteer to tell the class something he/she did this morning before class.  They should tell some action or decision.  Then ask him/her to tell why he/she did the action or made the decision.



1.      Follow up:  Tell students that this reason is called motivation.  Motivation is, "a reason that explains or partially explains a character's thoughts, feelings, actions, or speech.  Writers try to make their character's motivations, or motives, as clear as possible so that the characters will seem believable and lifelike."  (Prentice Hall Literature Silver, 1994)

2.      Just as we have motives for our actions, thoughts, feelings, and speech, so do characters of fiction and historical figures.

3.      Modeling:  As a class, view the episode of the situation comedy you have chosen.  Tell students to be aware of characters and their actions, thoughts, feelings, and speech, as well as their motivation.

4.      After viewing the episode, use the handout on overhead to identify a character and an action, thought, feeling, or spoken part that matches.  Identify together what is known about the character, and then infer the motivation for the action, thought, feeling, or spoken part.  Record all information on the overhead chart.


Check for Understanding

1.      Ask students to do the following: (Guided Practice)

·         Students will choose a mini-scene from The Diary of Anne Frank.  The scene should include one complete action, conversation, or excerpt from Anne's diary.  Mini-scenes must then be approved by the teacher.

·         Students will analyze the action(s), thought(s), feeling(s), or speech(es) of the characters involved using the same method as was done in the modeling exercise, using the handout (attached).

·         Students will also perform their mini-scene for the class and present their analysis of character motivation.  Students will need to work in pairs or groups for this activity.

·         Be sure to meet with each group prior to performance and presentation of analysis to check that motivation has been identified for each major action, thought, feeling, or spoken part.  Analysis should be completed in class.  Another class period may be given to complete this work.




2.      Reinforcement: (Independent Practice/Homework)

·         Students will meet to plan and practice performance of mini-scene.  They should be encouraged to include props or costume elements to enhance their performance.

3.      Closure:  Review definition of motivation and what elements of a character's behavior can be motivated.


Evaluation and Assessment:  Evaluation and assessment will take place several days after the initial lesson to allow time for students to practice their mini-scene.  Students will be evaluated most importantly on their analysis of character motivation, evidenced on handout, and through explanation to the class.  Performance of the mini-scene should be a minor consideration in the assessment.





  • Allow student more time to complete the assignment.
  • Limit the number of choices or items by suggesting a few mini-scenes to be used in the group activity.



·      Use large print materials.  Large print handout, textbook on tape from Recordings for Blind and Dyslexic.  (Visually Impaired)

·      Allow students to work in pairs or groups.  (Socially and Emotionally Disturbed)

Name ______________________                        Visual/Performing Arts 8


Date _______________________                        Character Motivation


Directions:  Complete the character analysis for each major action, thought, feeling, and spoken part of all characters in your mini-scene.




Action, Thought, Feeling, or Spoken Part:






What is known about this character?  (background, traits)







Motivation for above action, thought, feeling, or spoken part:












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