Change in Scenery

By Jeremy Roussel, February 27, 2017

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

90 Minutes Class work 30 Minutes Homework


Use of informational text and research. One of the greatest challenges my high school students face when evaluating literature is reading for purpose. They read superficially most of the time which means they cannopt appreciating subtle changes in detail as they relate to theme, meaning, and ultimately purpose. Therefore it is my job as their guide to redirect their interests away from the surface of the literature and design a lesson which would broaden their scope of research. As such my lesson is designed to engage students from both the top down and the bottom up. They will engage the text to establish a scheme for their resources and they will use their capacity for design to manipulate those resources into a product which conveys their “true” mastery of the subject.  

National Standards

Theatre Standard 4 Level IV (9-12)
  1. Develops multiple interpretations of visual and aural production choices for script and production ideas
  2. Justifies selections of text, interpretations, and visual and artistic choices
English Standard 6 Level IV (9-12)
  1. Reads a variety of literary texts
  2. Knows the defining characteristics of a variety of literary forms and genres (e.g. the dramatic elements of staging…)
  3. Analyzes the uses of complex elements of plot in specific literary works
  4. Uses language and perspectives of literary criticism to evaluate literary works


  • Identify the setting of a literary piece as it relates to theme and purpose.
  • Compare and contrast the impact or role of setting in different genres of literature (drama, fiction, etc).
  • Conceptualize a “physical” representation for setting, using only contextual evidence.
  • Utilize evidence to draw conclusions about setting and develop strategies to create a physical space for characters.


Smart Board/ Projector PowerPoint Software PowerPoint on Design‎


Worksheet on Character and Setting Details


  • Design
  • Setting
  • Evidence
  • Contextualize


Do Now: TSW create a list of ten connotations for the word “design”.   Opening Activity: TTW unpack the concept of design using the connotations suggested by the student as they are relevant to what the students have read (previously) in the text. TTW facilitate a brief discussion on the elements of designing with purpose in mind.   Introduction: TTW give an introduction on design using Powerpoint. TTW briefly review the text and preface the lesson with a definition of setting and tone. TTW ask “what do you think design and setting have in common?” TTW use the answers from the students to delve deeper into the purpose of design, specifically the way they way they will be using it in the class that day.   Activity: TTW present a set of challenges given a particular text. The challenge will center on some calamity or circumstance befalling the setting in the story requiring the story to take place in an alternate location without disrupting the flow, time, and design of the text. TTW instruct the students that they will need to design a representation of the space in accordance with the rules and dynamics of their challenge. Potential challenges include:
  • Beowulf – Hrothgar’s Hall, Herot, has a leak and Beowulf and his men need to bunk somewhere for the night. Grendel’s still coming for blood. Design a space using the text to simulate a location, just like Herot, where Grendel and Beowulf can still do battle.
  • Canterbury Tales – The Tabbard is running out of ale and the pilgrims are getting restless. The innkeeper has to think quick or he’ll lose his guests. Design a bar that would adequately suit the rowdy crowd.
TSW break into groups of four and design a space with the expectation of presenting that space to their peers with explanation. TSW (as a class) will comment on areas that could be improved and they will vote on the best representation. Closure TSW wrap up the lesson by completing an exit ticket on which presentation was the best and what elements of design process did it incorporate and in what way.


  • TSW present their projects to the class and will be rated based on their attention to actual plot, theme, and appreciation of purpose of literature.
  • TTW grade student worksheets and ability to convey design process along with strategies implemented in design process.
  Most of the assessment will be informal however the projects themselves will be judged by attentiveness to problem and design process.

Enrichment Extension Activities

TSW be offered the opportunity to take a field trip to an actual stage production located at a nearby university. TSW partner with theater or creative writing department to help design stage for ongoing performances. TSW become familiar with programs such as Google Sketchup 3D Design.

Teacher Reflection

After initial implementation the process can be altered to identify different learning styles. It is necessary to identify where our students are before trying to expose them not only to new material but to new strategies. The design process is an excellent strategy for learning, but I worry that some students are so used to having right or wrong answers that they have a hard time of grasping the concept of argument. In the design process there is no clear “right or wrong” and I’ve noticed this causes frustration in most students.   My students would have benefited from hearing about the design process piece-meal as opposed to all at once. If I had front-loaded more of the material with “design” in mind, my students would not have been confused about it later. I would definitely change this in a later approach.

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