1, 2, 3, Go...

Unit Overview

This unit plan was revised from the Ontario Ministry of Education Course Profiles written in 1999. 

Unit Overview/Description

This beginning unit “1, 2, 3, go……” is intended as a “mixer” for grades 9 or 10 students that will already have some prior learning of drama Grades 1 to 8. This unit might also be used to introduce and or review elements of tableau or to introduce a play or novel or more intensive drama unit where the universal theme of inclusion and exclusion is prominent. The lessons are scaffolded to encourage students to work towards a deepened understanding of the context and issues. A variety of games and drama strategies are used that focus on building and practicing collaborative skills and exploring personal perspective through investigation of the universal issue, Inclusion and Exclusion.

Learning Goals

Students will:

  • Build positive class relationships (collaborative activities, marshmallow game)
  • Develop interpretations of  inclusion and exclusion by presenting a particular point of view
  • Use some elements of drama (tableau, stepping out) effectively
  • Use tools such as sound in crossover tableau, to enhance the impact of the drama work
  • Reflect on and evaluate their own and others’ work in discussion or through thoughtful journal entries
  • Identify knowledge and skills they have acquired in drama, through discussion or by reflecting in his/her journal
  • Identify and follow safe practices such as collaboration, respect for space and personal safety in the classroom
  • Identify tableau and crossover tableaux

Notes/Assessment/Modifications/Accommodations classred

Assessment as Learning

Understanding is checked for through reflection, (Journal) summary, application ( e.g. student journals, discussion, exit cards, etc).

Assessment for Learning

Is done throughout each unit through conferences, anecdotal comments, checklists etc.

Assessment Tools

BLM#1 Self Assessment Checklist

BLM#2 Q Chart

BLM#4 Tableaux Assessment

BLM#5 Journal Rubric

Differentiated Instruction

It is helpful to use a variety of strategies to assist all learners e.g. linguistic and non linguistic at the same time e.g. give oral instructions AND write them on the board. Provide students with choice and incorporate a variety of groupings.


  • Accommodations, and sensitivity to differences of all kinds is essential for an equitable drama classroom environment and are reflected in this unit:
  • ELL and/or special needs students may be buddied with another student to scribe or given the option to draw their ideas, tape them, or write in their own language
  • Physically challenged students can always be accommodated (e.g., in “Huddle” the students can move to form a group by grouping around the student in a wheelchair, etc.) or participate in Tableaux using upper body movement.
  • If contact is a concern, students may stand in a group or reach without touching in tableau, as a religious accommodation. Female students can also be grouped together in same gender groups, as a religious accommodation.


  • Journals or Folders for each student
  • 3 X 5 file cards
  • chart paper
  • markers
  • newspaper
  • music – movie soundtrack
  • Marshmallow challenge: Each group wil need
    • 20 pieces dry Spaghetti
    • String/yarn (that can be easily broken. Or provide scissors)or tape
    • Marshmallows – name brand standered size
    • Masking tape – standard type
    • Lunch bags – standard size or leeter size manilla envelopes
  • Classical or rock music to use as a background to this task
  • Watch/clock (or Stopwatch – optional)
  • BLM#3 – Marshmallow Instructions

Other Resources

Marshmallow challenge: http://marshmallowchallenge.com/Welcome.html

Lesson 1

Minds On/Warm Up (Approximately 15 min.)

  • Create a positive classroom climate by welcoming the students to the class. 
  • To get to know the students, hand out a file card to each and ask them to put their name on one side and the answers to the following questions on the other (you may want to formulate some questions that are particular to your students and their culture).

Note to teacher: ELL or special needs students may be buddied with another student or given the option to draw their ideas, or write in their own language as appropriate.        

  •  The questions are as follow:
    • Why did you sign up for drama?
    • What do you hope you will learn from taking this drama course?
    • Name your favourite song and singer.
    • If you work, what do you do, and what are the hours?
    • Name everyone with whom you live including pets.
    • Name someone you admire.
    • What do you do in your spare time?
    • What would you like to do after graduation?
    • Who is the one person you can rely on?
  • When completed invite the students to turn to a partner and share one piece of information from the card.
  • Collect the cards so they can be used to get to know students better and/or for creating heterogeneous groups.

Action/Activities (Approximately 50 min.)

Teacher Notes:Choose games/activities that can be seen by adolescents as metaphors that relate to their lives (e.g., the school game, life as a journey, class as winning team), and serve as an introduction to the nature of drama work (e.g., collaboration, safety, empathy, negotiation, co-operation and risk taking etc.). The drama games and exercises can be used as a diagnostic tool. Differentiate your instructional strategies: linguistic and non linguistic at the same time e.g. give oral instructions AND write them on the board. Flexible groupings etc.

ELL or special needs students may be buddied with another students or given the option to draw their ideas, or write in their own language as appropriate

Whole class > Names

  • Instruct students to form a circle and share their name with the group. Starting first, share your own name, then ask the person on the left to share theirs.
  • Repeat until everyone has shared his or her name.
  • Using a large ball, model the next activity by calling out a student name then bouncing the ball to them. Each student says a name and bounces the ball until all students have had a turn.
  • Repeat increasing the speed so that students become familiar with everyone’s name.

Pairs > Whole Class-Tell me About Yourself

  • Pair students together and ask them to find out six things about their partner that are “safe”, and can be shared with the class (favourite food, hobby, etc.), then join with another pair.
  • Each person introduces their partner and tries to name the six things he/she has discovered. The other students try and remember as much as they can about each other, then join another group of four to repeat the process.
  • In the group of eight, students introduce the people from their original group, and try to share three things about each person. Ask random members of the group of eight to share one or two positive things they know about each person in the group.
  • This activity can be extended to the whole class so that everyone can state at least one positive thing about another person in the class while introducing them.

Whole class > Where Do I Belong?

  • Instruct the group to organize themselves into a specific “line” (one beside the other or one behind the other) and order followed by the signal “go”. If students share similarities they can stand beside each other.
  • Lines can also be formed with students working in silence.
  • When all the lines have been formed invite the students to return to lines by calling them out randomly….e.g. birthday line, street names etc.
    • Form a straight line according to height from tallest to shortest
    • Form a straight line according to shoe size, largest to smallest
    • Form a straight line according to last names, in alphabetical order
    • Form a straight line according to birthdays, with January birthdays at the head of the line.
    • Form a straight line according to your street name, in alphabetical order.
    • Form a straight line according to your first names, in alphabetical order

Whole class > Discussion/Reflection

  • To deconstruct the activity ask:
    • Did someone take on the role of leader?
    • How did you help people who just stayed in one place?
    • How well did you collaborate?
    • What was difficult about this activity?
    • If you did this activity again what might you do differently?

Consolidation (Approximately 10 min.)

Assessment for/as Learning

  • Check for understanding through reflection, summary, application (e.g. student journals, discussion, exit cards, etc).
  • Use the Q chart to create higher-level questions for students to respond to in their journals or writing folders (BLM#2 Q Chart)
    • How will experiencing the difference between being included or excluded in these activities, impact your work in drama?
    • Why would one approach be better than the other for building community and problem solving?
    • Why was there a difference in involvement between the quiet and active activities?


Assessment for Learning

Self-Assessment Checklist (BLM#1 Self Assessment Checklist)

Lesson 2

Minds On/Warm Up (Approximately 25 min.)

Whole class > ZigZag Names

  •  Instruct students to stand in a circle with a volunteer in the centre. Start with one person in the circle . The student to the left is their  “Zig” and to the right is their “Zag”.
  • Students go around the circle and introduce themselves left and right. The person standing in the middle points to a  person and says “Zig”. That person must say the name of the person on his/her left (or if “zag”, the person on the right). If incorrect, the person in the middle switches places with that student. If the person in the middle cannot catch anyone making a mistake after three tries that person may say “zigzag!” Everyone must then change places with the person in the centre attempting to find a space .
  • The last person becomes the one in the middle and the activity resumes.

Whole class > Shrinking Island

  • Spread “islands” of overlapping newspaper around the classroom.
  • Ask for a student to volunteer as the “tagger” and instruct the other students to “swim” around the islands until you shout “SHARK”.
  • Students then jump on an island to avoid being tagged. If they are not completely on the island, and are touching the “water” in any way, they are “out”. 
  • Gradually remove pieces of the newspaper to reduce the size of the islands so the next time “Shark” is heard, there are fewer places of safety. The game continues until there are only a few survivors left. 

Whole Class > Buzz

  • Explain to students that in this activity the number 6, any number that contains a 6, or multiples of 6 cannot be spoken, instead it is replaced by the word “buzz”. They sit in a circle and begin counting around the circle  1,2,3,4,5, then the student whose turn it is to speak says, “Buzz!”, for example, 1,2,3,4,5, buzz! 7,8,9,10,11, Buzz! 13,14,15, Buzz!, 17, Buzz, 19, etc.”. If a student misses the counting starts over from 1.
  • Choose any different number as a variation, and end with a focus on cooperation to see how high the group can go without making a mistake.

Action/Activities (Approximately 30 min.)

Small groups > Marshmallow Challenge

Teacher Notes:Create a marshmallow challenge kit for each group containing twenty sticks of spaghetti, one yard of masking tape, one yard of string and one marshmallow. These ingredients should be placed into a paper lunch bag, which simplifies distribution and hides the contents, maximizing the element of surprise.

  • Spaghetti: Use dry spaghetti. Avoid spaghettini as it is too thin and breaks easily. Fettuccini is too thick.
  • String/Yarn : Include string that can be easily broken by hand. If the string is thick, include scissors in your kit.
  • Marshmallow: Use a name brand or private label brand of marshmallows that measure the ‘standard’ size, about an inch an a half across. Avoid mini or jumbo marshmallows. Also avoid stale marshmallows. You’ll want squishy marshmallows that give the impression of lightness
  • Masking Tape: Get standard masking tape. Put the tape on the side of the table, the back of a chair or a nearby wall. Rolling it in the bag tangles the tape.
  • Paper Lunch Bags: Standard size lunch bags work well as do letter size manila envelops.
  • Ask students to form groups of four.
  • Tell students that the activity following is an opportunity to practice their collaborative skills in listening, sharing and accepting ideas, and “thinking outside the box”.
  • Hand students a copy of the instructions (BLM#3 Marshmallow Challenge) and post visually on chart paper, and go over them orally. Ask if anyone has any questions. Groups will be timed, and must stop at 15 minutes exactly!
  • Select either classical music or rock music as a background then start the countdown clock and the music with the start of the challenge.

Teacher Notes

  • Walk around the Room to see the development of the structures
  • Remind the Groups of the Time: Countdown the time. Usually, I call 12 minutes, 9 minutes (half-way through), 7 minutes, 5 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds and a ten-second count down. 
  • Call Out How the Groups are Doing: Let the entire group know how teams are progressing. Call out each time a group builds a standing structure. Encourage people to look around.
  • Remind Groups that Holding is Not Allowed: Several groups will have the powerful desire to hold on to their structure at the end. Usually because the marshmallow, which they just placed onto their structure moments before, causing the structure to buckle. The winning structure needs to be stable.
  • After the clock runs out, ask everyone in the room to sit down so they can see the structures. Likely, just over half the groups will have standing structures.

Whole Class > Discussion/Refelection

  • Discuss the experience with the students.
    • Who seemed to be the least successful? Why?
    • Who seemed to do the best? Why? What do you think improves performance?
    • What kills it?
    • Challenge students to predict who might be the most successful in doing this activity. After a few predictions share whom actually does do best and why.(below)
  • Kids do better than Business Students: On virtually every measure of innovation, kindergarteners create taller and more interesting structures.
  • Winning is Less Important than Playing: The reason kids do better than business school students is kids spend more time playing and trying new ideas. They naturally start with the marshmallow and stick in the sticks. The Business School students spend a vast amount of time planning, then executing on the plan, with almost no time to fix the design once they put the marshmallow on top.
  • Hidden Assumptions: The assumption in the Marshmallow Challenge is that marshmallows are light and fluffy and easily supported by the spaghetti sticks. When you actually try to build the structure, the marshmallows don’t seem so light. Another of the assumptions is that winning is the most important part of the task, rather than collaboration, innovation and creativity. http://marshmallowchallenge.com/Welcome.html

Consolidation (Approximately 15 min.)

Assessment for/as Learning

  • Check for understanding through reflection, summary, application (e.g. student journals, discussion, exit cards, etc).
  • Use the Q chart to create higher-level questions for students to respond to in their journals or writing folders (BLM#2 Q Chart)
    • How might a “competition” prevent someone from trying more approaches to the task
    • Why should all voices and ideas be listened to and tried out.


Assessment for Learning

Self-Assessment Checklist (BLM#1 Self Assessment Checklist)

Lesson 3

Minds On/Warm up (Approximately 15 min.)

Whole Class > Huddle

  • Ask students to walk in and around the room using all available space. Encourage the use of peripheral vision and respect for others by reinforcing the challenge of “not touching others “.
  • As the students move, instruct them to move in a variety of ways (slowly, quickly, to change direction, walk backward etc.) As students are traveling, call out “Huddle four” (or six or eleven, etc.) for students to form groups of that number.
  • To encourage inclusion, advise students that they are responsible for ensuring that any student who is not in a “group” be invited inside the centre of their group.
  • Repeat a number of times ending with “huddle two” in preparation for the next pair activity
  • Teacher Notes: Sensitivity to cultural differences is essential to an equitable drama class. Remind students that they may stand in the group without touching, as a religious accommodation

Action/Activities (Approximately 40 min.)

Pairs > Fox and Rabbit- Games as Metaphor

  • Fox and Rabbit explores the theme of inclusion/exclusion and frames the drama work to follow.
  • Students work in  pairs and find a space with room around them.  Ask one pair to volunteer as “Fox” and  “Rabbit”.
  • The other pairs form a high bridge with their arms that becomes the “rabbit warren.”
  • To play the game, the Fox chases the Rabbit around the pairs (not through) and tries to tag him/her. The Rabbit’s goal is to escape the Fox by entering into one of the rabbit warrens.
  • The Rabbit now becomes a part of the warren by joining hands with the person s/he faces. The person who has been replaced (behind the Rabbit) becomes the new Rabbit.
  • The Fox remains Fox until a Rabbit is tagged. If the Fox tags the Rabbit, the roles are reversed. Allow enough time for a few students to experience the game.

Fox and Rabbit Variation

  • To illustrate the feelings of inclusion/exclusion introduce new rules:
  • The rules of the game remain the same except, each pair can choose to let the rabbit be safe or not by closing the warren
  • To indicate that the warren is closed, pairs lower their arms to block the entrance.
  • The decision can only be made as the Rabbit approaches and without any talking or signing.
  • This variation should be played until a number of students have experienced the roles of Rabbit and Fox. With their partners, students determine between themselves whether or not they will allow the Rabbit to be safe and if so, always, never, how many times?

Whole Group > Discussion/Reflection

  • Discuss the experience with the students using the following questions:
    • Why did you like one version of the game better than the other?
    • What criteria did you use to decide whether or not you closed your warren?
    • How did you negotiate this decision with new partners?
    • How did it feel to block the warren?
    • How did it feel to be the Fox or the Rabbit?
  • Ask students to compare this game with “Huddle” to determine the similarities and differences.
    Ask students share, identify issues around inclusion and exclusion and ask students to brainstorm “feeling” words associated with both, and record the words on chart paper or on the board.

Consolidation (Approximately 15 min.)

Assessment for/as Learning

  • Check for understanding through reflection, summary, application ( e.g. student journals, discussion, exit cards, etc).
  • Use the Q chart to create higher-level questions  (BLM#2 Q Chart)
    • How will the information you learned about some of your classmates help you in your drama work?  When might the experience of playing Fox and Rabbit be useful in your own life?

Assessment for Learning

Self-Assessment Checklist (BLM#1 Self Assessment Checklist)

Lesson 4

Minds on/Warm-up (Approximately 15 minutes)

Whole group > Calling the Tableaux with words (Approximately 20 minutes)

  • Review the elements of tableau and post for students to refer to.
  • As a link to the following work divide students into two halves, then into large groups of six - eight. Number the group members one to eight. One half of the class will focus on the Inclusion words, the other half, the Exclusion words.
  • Allow groups a moment to review and maybe add to the previously created list of words.
  • Direct students to move randomly and quickly, within their own group and area:
  • When you call out one of the numbers, the student with that number becomes the leader
  • The leader calls out a word from the list, and all students in that group must form a cohesive tableau that illustrates the word. The tableau is held for about five seconds.
  • The leader then releases everyone, and the students again to move until another word is called out. This activity is repeated several times, with a new word each time.
  •  Change group leaders by calling out a new number, until every student has the opportunity to be the leader. The teacher encourages students to experiment with a variety of body positions, levels, facial expressions, and gestures.
  • Invite each group to re-create one image to share with the class. Share the images in a carousel with the groups creating the image and dissolving as the next group creates and then dissolves until each group has shared.
  • Discuss with the students using the following questions: 
    • Which image stood out for you and why? 
    • Did you notice similarities in the images? What was similar and what was different? 
    • What did you learn about inclusion and exclusion through creating and sharing these tableaux?

Action/Activities (Approximately 45 minutes)

Whole group > Crossover Tableau

  • Ask students to choose a partner. Divide the class into two groups with one partner in each group.
  • Using the words recorded previously to inform their decisions, instruct one group to create a tableau representing “Exclusion”, and the other “Inclusion”
  • To build a crossover tableau instruct students’ to memorize their partner’s position and elements of tableau used (facial expression, body shape, dominant emotion etc) then assume their position in their first tableau.
  • Before starting the cross over, select music to inform the mood and tempo of the crossover movement and remind students to use peripheral vision to avoid bumping into others.
  • Instruct students to slowly unfreeze when the music begins, and begin to move across the room to take up the opposing position of his/her partner, then freeze in position.
  • Ask students to hold the freeze until you signal them to slowly crossover to their original tableau position. In the final freeze, while maintaining position, students observe the contrasting tableau to determine what they “see”.
  • Repeat the sequence to side coach students, and fine-tune the timing and movement quality as needed.

Teacher Notes: Sensitivity to cultural differences is essential to an equitable drama class. Remind students that they may work in a group without touching, as a religious accommodation.

  •  To link to the previous activities, return to the list of recorded words about inclusion and exclusion and check to see if students wish to add to the list.

Small Group > Connecting to the Real World

  • Using the same 2 groups, half the will focus on inclusion, the other half, exclusion.
  • In groups of six, using the elements of tableau instruct students to decide on an incident that happened to someone they knew in  grade school that resulted in them being included, or excluded.
  • Instruct the groups to form a unified frozen picture that could be placed in an Art Gallery exhibition – Exploring Inclusion/Exclusion.
  • As class members view each piece of art, students will come ‘alive’ and step out of the frozen picture “in role” and speak the thoughts of the person in the tableau, and what he/she they saw in the incident then step back into the freeze.

Whole class > Discussion/Reflection

  • Discuss the work with the students. Ask them:
    • Which image stands out for you and why?
    • Which image touched you personally and why?
    • What did you find effective in each of the images?

Consolidation (Approximately 10 min.)

Assessment for/as Learning

  • Check for understanding through reflection, summary, application ( e.g. student journals, discussion, exit cards, etc).
  • Use the Q chart to create higher-level questions for students to respond to in their journals or writing folders (BLM#2 Q Chart)
    • How would a different choice of music in the crossover tableaux affect the meaning?
    • What do you think you will you learn by observing others’ work?
    • Why should we explore issues such as inclusion/exclusion in our drama class? How might this be useful in our own lives?

Assessment for Learning

Self-Assessment Checklist (BLM#1 Self Assessment Checklist)