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Teaching and Learning Sequence

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 Teaching and learning sequence

Key questions to guide formative assessment and/or develop the drama

 I. Introduction to mythology

  1. Read Iron John myth to the class.
  2. Ask students to draw the image that touched them in the story.
  3. Working in pairs:
    • student 'A' lays picture in front of student 'B';
    • 'B' tells a story beginning "Once upon a time...";
    • 'B' lays picture in front of 'A';
    • 'A' tells a story beginning "Once upon a time...".


  • What image touched you in this myth?


 II. Finding a story

  1. Read and study a variety of myths. For example:
    • ‘Oedipus and the Sphinx’,
    • ‘Icarus’,
    • ‘Rae te akeake’,
    • ‘Hinemoa and Tutaneki’.
  2. Re-tell the chosen myths, using a variety of dramatic elements and conventions, such as:
    • role,
    • time,
    • space,
    • action,
    • freeze-frames,
    • spoken thoughts aloud,
    • slow motion,
    • flashback,
    • chorus of movement,
    • chorus of voice.
  3. Combine the conventions within the re-telling.

Drawing parallels to our lives

  1. As a class, discuss how the themes of these myths could be translated for today's world. For example, the story of Icarus flying too close to the sun and causing his wings to melt just as his father predicted, could be updated to parents warning about unprotected sex, then a teenager ignoring them and getting pregnant.
  2. In-groups, students discuss the theme they will choose.
  3. Hot seat each character to get a sense of who s/he is.

Story structure

Devise a story using flashback and freeze-frames, that is, students create still pictures that describe the key moments in the story.

  1. Students think about the main crisis point in their story. Present that moment in a freeze-frame.
  2. Students think of a moment before the crisis point of this story. Present this flashback as a freeze-frame and show the class.
  3. Discuss how the story will finish.



  1. Groups show freeze-frames to the class.
  2. Each group reflects on the previous group's work, commenting on the effectiveness of:
    • point of focus,
    • body tension,
    • levels,
    • clarity of crisis point.

Feed forward

Students learn from feedback received.

  • What elements and conventions will you use to strengthen your story?
  • Why these conventions?
  • What do you hope to achieve?
  • How can the convention of slow motion be used to heighten the point of focus in a scene?


  • What relevance does this story have to today?


  • Who is in the crisis point scene?
  • What are they doing?
  • How could this be shown in a freeze-frame?
  • What is happening in the flashback?
  • What changes are there in the characters' attitudes?


  • What is the point of focus?
  • How is the point of focus clear?
  • Can you see the tension in the bodies of the characters in this scene?
  • In what ways do levels contribute to the effectiveness of this freeze-frame?
  • Why does/does not this freeze-frame reflect the crisis point?


III. Shaping the story

  1. Using the first freeze-frame as a starting point, improvise the story until the moment in time of their second freeze-frame.
  2. Show to class.
  3. Obtain/give feedback to answer these questions:
    • Are the character relationships clear?
    • Are the character's intentions believable?
  4. Move through the freeze-frames (from one improvisation to the next) until the story is devised.
  5. Record the process as it happens by making notes on the worksheet provided.


Journal entry: Shaping the story


Students are assessed on their ability to incorporate the elements and conventions into the adaptation of the myths to strengthen the modern day story. See Assessment criteria sheet.


  • Did the character/s behave in a way that was true to their personalities


IV. Shadow puppetry

  1. Show exemplars of shadow puppetry – an authentic puppet, and a video.
  2. Discuss the features of shadow puppetry:
    • dalang,
    • gamelan,
    • figures,
    • gunungan,
    • screen,
    • light source,
    • seating,
    • stories.

Provide background information sheet: Understanding traditional shadow puppetry .


Journal entry: Features of traditional shadow puppetry


  • What do we see?
  • What can you tell about the characters from their body language?
  • What is the landscape like?
  • What does it suggest?
  • What is shadow puppetry?
  • In what ways do the stories reflect the culture they came from?


V. Creating the space

Create the space in the story that allows the action to flow. Draw pictures of the different places in which the action of the story takes place.

  •  What props need to be represented to create the space?


VI. Defining the characters

Discuss and define each character's traits, qualities, and attitudes, and use these to help describe their physical appearance. (For example, an inquisitive character might have a big nose.)

Role on the wall – use this technique to further define the character:

  • draw an outline of the character;
  • record the character's external appearance outside of the outline, and put their inner feelings and attitudes inside.


  • How do the puppet's features reflect the character's personality?
  • What other physical features could be incorporated into the puppet to add to the effectiveness of its appearance?


VII. Designing and making a shadow puppet

  1. Design the shadow puppet on paper, ensuring the parts that are to be jointed are overlapping. In pairs, students share their puppet designs and give feedback regarding the ways design reflects character. (Note: Patterns are given in the resource books listed under 'Materials and resources in the Unit planner '.)
  2. Redraw the separate parts on a piece of cardboard.
  3. Details can be cut out of the figure to allow the light to shine through. (Do not cut away too much cardboard, or it will weaken the puppet.) Decoration can be added to the puppet for light to shine through, such as lace, cellophane, paper doilies, net or other loose-weave fabrics.
  4. Cut out the puppet parts, and lay down in position to check overlap at joints.
  5. Make the joints by piercing a hole at each joint position, then pushing a split pin through the holes and bending it back. (Note: The holes must be big enough to permit free movement of the joints.)
  6. Wire or vertical rods to operate the puppet can be fixed on with 'blue tac' and masking tape. (Note: Considerable effective movement can be achieved by letting the arms hang freely and moving only one main rod attached as one arm control. Legs do not usually have controls, but instead hang from the body, but some degree of control is gained by the way the main body is manipulated.)
  7. Practice manipulating the shadow puppet.

Journal entry: Creating a shadow puppet


VIII. Role development

Hot seating

  1. In groups, students ask questions (one at a time) about the character's past, attitudes, and beliefs.
  2. From the answers, create a history for each puppet's character.

Character modelling

In pairs, student A holds puppet in a neutral pose, and student B models the puppet in a series of postures depicting the following moments:

  • entering a friend's house before a blind date;
  • just before blowing out candles on a birthday cake;
  • trying on a new outfit, but finding it is too small;
  • looking at the clock while waiting for party guests to arrive.

Reverse roles

Student B holds A's puppet, and models the moment when:

  • someone hears they have been awarded a medal for their good works;
  • walking onto a marae;
  • finishing the last mouthful at a family feast.


Find the part of the body your puppet leads by. For example, forehead, oral (throat) centre, chest, stomach, pelvis, or knees. Make the puppet:

  • live in that centre;
  • sit down on a chair in that centre;
  • stand up and walk around leading from that centre;
  • explore the world around from that centre.


Develop the shadow puppet character's movements through the following situations:

  • at the beach,
  • in the movies,
  • dancing,
  • at a sports game,
  • fire station,
  • work canteen,
  • in the office,
  • art gallery,
  • at a party.


  • How has the puppeteer captured a sense of how this character leads?


  • In what ways does exploring different situations and movements reveal aspects of character?


IX. Developing the character ...

  • ...over time – discuss aspects of the drama to clearly define the:
    • era;
    • time frame;
    • characters' development over time.
    Discuss methods of showing a change in time during the story.
  • ...through setting – consider the puppet's environment, for example:
    • furniture,
    • colours,
    • smells,
    • textures,
    • sounds,
    • country or city setting,
    • inside or outside.
    Puppets then interact with the chosen objects.
  • ...through intentions – choose an action of your puppet character in the story, and follow this process:
    1. Decide what s/he is trying to achieve by the action.
    2. Practice the action to show this intention.
    3. Show the group.
    4. Receive feedback.
    5. Practice again.
    6. Choose another action and repeat the process.
  • ...through character's feelings – in pairs, explore the puppet's feelings. For example, is it:
    • happy?
    • sad?
    • angry?
    • frustrated?
    • in love?
    Practice, and give feedback.
  • ...through point of focus
    1. Choose one scene – a particular moment in time that captures the dramatic action, or a theme, character or other aspect that gives purpose to the drama.
    2. Place puppets in a variety of positions - where do they stand/sit? At what levels?
    3. Experiment until a strong point of focus has been created in the scene.

Feedback – with the groups in pairs, have them give feedback to each other on the focus points of their scenes.

Feed forward – students take on board feedback by working to improve the point of focus in their scene.


  • In what era is your drama set?
  • Over what length of time does this play take place?
  • How are you going to show any changes in the time in your drama?
  • What is happening to each character in the drama at each moment in time?


  • What surrounds your character?
  • What props will you need to help the audience believe you are in this place, at this time?


  • What is your character doing to get what s/he wants?
  • What problem does your character need to attempt to overcome in order to achieve his /her objective?
  • What conflict occurs because characters are not achieving their objective?


  • What is the point of focus in your play?


  • How can the point of focus further command the audience's attention?


X. Developing character through techniques


Making noises only, students show:

  • anger,
  • fear,
  • happiness,
  • annoyance,
  • excitement,
  • surprise,
  • that they are furious,
  • that they like their partner.

Practicing a line

Each student chooses a line in the script, and experiments to find their character voice. Practice the line with different intents, for example:

  • to issue a warning,
  • to express love,
  • to share joy,
  • to discipline,
  • to make someone laugh.


Do this exercise twice in pairs – first at arm's length, and then at a distance. Use the puppet hands to show:

  • greeting,
  • attention wanted,
  • annoyance,
  • anger,
  • achievement,
  • pleasure.

Body movement

Working in pairs, students move the puppet's head only to show:

  • anger,
  • fear,
  • happiness,
  • annoyance,
  • excitement,
  • surprise,
  • that they are furious,
  • that they like their partner.

Shadow puppet walk

Working in groups, students establish a ground level, and then introduce one shadow puppet character at a time by making them:

  • stand still;
  • move in slow motion;
  • freeze and then move in a way that reflects the character.


  • What tone of voice does the puppet use to express his/her reaction to impending danger?


  • How are different motives/intents shown by the way we say a particular line?


  • What have you learnt about the character through his/her gestures?


  • How does a simple movement of the head enrich the role?


  • How does the puppet move within the space to reflect its character?
  • Is the movement this character makes believable for the personality reflected in his body shape?


XI. Tell the story

  1. Rehearse and perform the plays.
  2. Give feedback - have the groups perform to each other, and then give feedback immediately afterwards. Comment on:
    • effective use of voice, including pausing, pace, volume and articulation (clarity);
    • controlled gestures;
    • gestures that demonstrate intention;
    • if the overall mood of the story has been conveyed;
    • if the role of each shadow puppet is believable;
    • if the puppets' movements are appropriate to their role, and create an imagined space for the audience
  3. Give feed forward
    1. Discuss feedback.
    2. Improve work.
    3. Rehearse again.


  • How could voice be used more effectively to enhance character?


  • How could gesture add emphasis to the words?


XII. Assessment

1. Performance
Each group performs their puppet show to the whole class, and is assessed according to the criteria in the Assessment criteria sheet.

2. Understanding shadow puppetry3. Peer evaluationHave students fill out the peer evaluation sheet after another group's performance.4. Journal entriesAssess the following journal entries that reflect the process.

  • 'Developing a character through flashback'
  • 'Freeze-frame images to structure the story'
  • 'Shaping the story'
  • 'Features of shadow puppetry'
  • 'Creating a shadow puppet'
  • 'Role development'
  • 'Rehearsal process'

5. Reflection chart

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