What are you trying to say?

Core Standards: RL.2.6

What do you want people to think of you?

What conclusion should they make?

What interpretation of your body language will they have?


The lesson focuses on how body language and tone of voice sends a message.

We discuss how stories and rumors get started based on this.

Also, how people may or may not get a job because of this.

Next, the lesson carries over into characters in books.

Making the characters come to life and using the descriptions from the author, what would the character look like?

If at an interview, will the character likely get the job?

What kind of rumors or stories could be made about the character?

Below is a video of parts of the lessons.

tone from Marly Parker on Vimeo.

Drama Activity from Magnet Schools of America Conference 2013

Please reference the page above “Presenting at MSA Conference” as well as this post.

The Prezi detailing the entire presentation can be accessed here.

Participant Drama Activity

In order to capture video to model the editing and uploading process with an iPad and for participants to experience a drama based activity, session attendees participated in the group activity “What’s Your Interpretation?”.

Below you can access the paintings, directions, and graphic organizers used in the activity.

Directions for adults

Directions for elementary students

Annette Randall_A Family Affair


Doyle Young_untitled


Faye Vander Veer-Large And Then He Told Them


Faye Vander Veer-Le Serveur




Spaceport, Legoland


Paul Cezanne- Card Players


Susan Sutton-Anticipation


William_Hogarth_Beggar's Opera 1731


To view a similar activity detailed in another Capture the Drama post, click here.

Where’s the Proof?

Core Standard: 2.RL.3. 2.RL.7 

Why do you think that? What made you say that?

This lesson explains to students the purpose of that thing inside their skull.

You know? The brain. The noggin. 

Two main goals in this activity are for the students to be consciously aware of themselves using their brain to make inferences. Then for them to be able to prove what made them think that way.

1. I start the lesson using an anchor chart that explains use of schema to create ideas about what you’re reading.

2. In whole group, I read out loud two of the worksheets I made. They include short paragraphs that focus on certain characters in different situations. We discussed what we could infer about the character and the story. I asked the students to share what in their lives made them connect to that idea. How have they seen crossed arms in their life? Have they ever heard someone say “I can’t do it?”

3. I placed the students into groups based on reading levels and gave each group one sheet each to read over and answer questions. The sheets are differentiated based on levels of groups.  I made these with various reading levels in mind. The two worksheets I modeled with the class I assigned to the struggling readers.See the PDF’s below.






4. Now they have to decide how to perform their short paragraph so that the audience makes similar inferences.

Below is a video of this process.

What Do Nicknames Mean?

 Core Standards: 2.RL.6 & 2.W.3

Jealous Jane…Greedy Gracie…Marty Party…Angry Allie…Excited Ella

What’s in a nickname? What does it tell us about a person? 

Nicknames give us information about a person’s character. If someone is called Greedy Gracie then she probably wants everything. Marty Party must like to have a good time. Jealous Jane, well, she’s always green with envy.

What else helps us know a character’s traits?

It’s all in the details.

The nickname itself gives a detail. but if that character were in a book, there would be words the character says, actions that the character makes, and relationships that the character has with other characters that would assist you in understanding that character. 

Watch how this lesson goes from

acting out a story to a written story.

Untitled (2013-02-04 20:10:29)

In the video below, 2nd graders act out a nickname.

The rest of the class looks for details to try and guess the nickname.


This lesson could also be done using state or city nicknames. The state could be personified in the scene. It would be a great way to integrate Social Studies. Also, it is a great exercise in the need to use the same reading skills in fiction and non-fiction text. 

Show Your Character

Core Standard: 2.RL.1, 2.RL.3

You’re bored……….you’re silly………you’re mean………you’re kind

These are some of the traits the second graders were asked to portray in short improvisational skits. The students used their own metacognition and experiences to choose how to talk, walk, speak, and what to say.

Here’s an improvisational game that focuses on the student’s need to show how a character would react in response to certain events or challenges. The actors needed to first think on their own who, where, when, why and how of the skit. When those ideas merge through the use of improvisation a combination of fresh ideas created through teamwork emerges. Their performance must convince the audience of their character traits.

Character drives stories. Understanding the character’s actions in various situations allows the reader to fully engage in the story, turning it into a movie in their head.