Unit Overview

Summary Description of Unit

This unit explores the theme of exclusion and inclusion through a series of lessons that encourages students to consider these ideas in creative ways. The unit concludes with a culminating task that addresses how inclusive they are as individuals and as a community and how they can encourage themselves and others to see through a lens of inclusion. Through language, dance and drama strategies students make personal connections that allow them to build resilience and empathy for others. Through a critical literacy lens they ask questions about how power, identity and representation or portrayal of individuals and groups intersect to include or exclude others. Students gain understanding of the relationship between exclusion, discrimination and different expressions of power.

Overall Expectations


A1. Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process to the composition of movement sequences and short dance pieces, using the elements of dance to communicate feelings and ideas


B1. Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process to drama and the development of drama works, using the elements and conventions of drama to communicate feelings, ideas, and stories


1. read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of literary, graphic, and informational texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning


1.  generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience

Media Literacy

1. demonstrate an understanding of a variety of media texts

3. create a variety of media texts for different purposes and audiences,using appropriate forms, conventions and techniques


Big Ideas 

People feel excluded for many different reasons and exclusion is directly related to various forms of discrimination.

Power relationships and dynamics are always present in acts of inclusion, exclusion and discrimination. 

There are different forms and expressions of power.  

Awareness and understanding of different expressions of power is empowering to individuals and communities.

Dance, drama and critical literacy are effective vehicles for understanding power and combating exclusion and discrimination.

Unit Guiding Questions

What do inclusion and exclusion look like and feel like?

In what ways is exclusion related to discrimination?

How can one remain personally empowered in the face of exclusion and/or discrimination?

How can we use power constructively to build inclusive communities?

How can I  use drama, dance and critical literacy to interpret ideas and communicate meaning?

How can I use drama, dance and critical literacy strategies to explore, challenge, and shift both my own and others point of view?

Critical Literacy

Read more about Critical Literacy and how it links to dance and drama.


Assessment and Evaluation: How will students demonstrate their learning?

Assessment of learning

Writing in Role

Students write in role following an extensive drama exploration of a boy who experiences exclusion in his school community. This task allows students to demonstrate their ability to adopt the point of view, emotional life, and voice of a character from the drama exploration. A rubric is provided to evaluate this task.

Culminating Performance Task

Students will work in small groups to create a presentation that addresses some of the guiding questions for the unit. The class reflects on their learning journey by reviewing all of the activities and revisiting the documentation that has been assembled on the class "wonder wall". Student individually write a reflection, and then, in small groups create a short dramatization about the key themes using a combination of tableau, movement and choral speaking. Students also create action plans to help build an inclusive community for the Primary students at their school. 

Success criteria for the group dramatization and the group action plan are reviewed with students. 
Students complete a self/peer assessment. A rubric is provided to evaluate this task.

Assessment for Learning

On-going Feedback

Throughout the unit, student achievement of the identified learning goals is monitored using a variety of assessment strategies and tools including:

  • Reflective journal entries
  • Exit cards
  • Discussions
  • Teacher feedback
  • Questioning
  • Checklists
  • Peer and self assessments  
  • Anecdotal notes


Unit Lessons: How will assessment and instruction be organized for learning?

Approx. Duration 1 class= 60


Lesson 1

Introduction: Initial Impressions

Students are introduced to the big ideas and guiding questions of the unit. The wonder wall is introduced as a place for students to post thematic material and document their shared learning journey. Students begin to explore the theme of inclusion and exclusion kinesthetically through the drama game of Atom. They create a graffiti mural of words and images, and then devise tableaux with transitions based on the concepts of inclusion and exclusion. The lesson ends with a brainstorm of verbs for inclusion and exclusion, and a personal reflection on their tableau experience.

1-2 classes
(80 min)
Lesson 2

Dancing In and Out

A simple game, followed by discussion, introduces students to the random and often arbitrary nature of acts of exclusion. Students build on the concepts explored through tableau by body storming and creating, and performing short dances. Students also reflect on the dance work and document their dance phrases, by drawing, writing or videotaping their performance so that they can remember and recreate the choreography.

2 classes
(125 min)

Lesson 3

Interpreting and Chorally Speaking Text

Students explore a simple poem, experimenting with structure, interpretation and delivery using critical literacy and choral reading techniques. Groups are partnered and challenged to find a way to combine their dance phrases from Lesson 2 with their partner group's choral interpretation of the poem. Each group posts their version of the poem on the Wonder Wall and students reflect on the different meanings that emerge.

2 class
(120  min)

Lesson 4

Expressions of Power Dance

Building on the dance/movement exploration and performance in Lessons 2 and 3, students again use brainstorming and bodystorming to generate movement vocabulary. In this movement activity the concept of different expressions of power: power over, power to, power with and power within are explored. Students  explore the idea of power and powerlessness as it relates to inclusion and exclusion while explicitly referencing the elements of dance. An exit card is used to capture students thoughts, reflections, and emerging understandings.

2 classes
(125 min)
Lesson 5

Picture This

Students engage in a warm-up activity that allows them to see that they share common ground with others in the classroom, but that while they belong to some groupings, they do not belong to all groupings. Students view a YouTube video "The Sneetches" as an example of exclusion and "power over." Through discussion students analyse the power dynamics and make connections to personal choices related to inclusion and exclusion. Students use critical literacy techniques and prompts to 'read' a picture, and then create tableaux with captions depicting the moment before and the moment after to develop an exclusion scenario.  Forum theatre is used to explore approaches to problem-solving the scenarios. Finally, students compete a personal reflection focussing on their circle of belonging.

1-2 classes
(100 min)

Lesson 6

Connecting Exclusion and Discrimination

Students are introduced to concepts and vocabulary related to discrimination, and make connections between the reasons for feeling excluded and specific forms of discrimination. A fictional article, establishing the dramatic context of a girl who is not allowed to play hockey on a boy's team is introduced. Students use role-play, hot seating and writing in role to explore different points of view. The term gender stereotyping is introduced and students respond to a media text (poster) through choral speaking, discussion, and adding to the text. The exploration of sexism and gender stereotyping as one form of exclusion concludes with the class coming to a classroom agreement to consolidate their understanding.

1-2 classes
(105 min)

Lesson 7

Building a Story Drama: Examining Impact

Students are introduced to the scenario of a boy who is staying home from school because of the emotional impact of exclusion and/or discrimination. The details of the fictional situation are determined by the students through a range of drama conventions including teacher in role, role play, hot seating, role on the wall, the wave and writing in role. Students explore and reflect on the following guiding questions:

In what ways are exclusion and discrimination hurtful?
What strategies can one use to cope when feeling hurt and unjustly treated?
How can one reach out and encourage inclusivity?
In what ways can inclusivity be powerful?

2-3 classes
(155 min)

Lesson 8

Reflecting and Taking Action: Culminating Task

As a review of the unit, students revisit the Unit Guiding Questions and the related documentation on the wonder wall, and then write a personal reflection. In small groups students share their reflections, selecting a few phrases and thoughts to weave together in a presentation that includes tableaux, movement and choral speaking. Students share their performances with classmates and provide peer feedback. The final step involves applying their new learning and understanding. In small groups, students develop action plans to address issues of exclusion that are being experienced by primary students in the school yard.  

4-6 classes
(approx. 225 min)