What Are Students Like at This Learning Level?

At the typical Chicago high school, theater courses are not broken out by grade level, so ninth graders may end up in an acting or playwriting class together with twelfth graders. That means teachers must accommodate learners at different levels. It’s important to understand that high school students take theater courses for many different reasons. Some are just looking for a fun, easy class within a schedule of more rigorous academic coursework. Others may see participating in theater as a way to make friends or gain a community. Still others may have the goal of beginning an eventual career in the theater. No matter what students’ reasons are, there are some cognitive, emotional, and physical characteristics common to students at the freshman and sophomore levels.

What Students Can Do at This Level

The learning outcomes below are based on the Scope and Sequence, which builds instruction sequentially across these levels. Keep in mind that students of different ages may be at the same level.
High School Level I Students Can… High School Level II Students Can…

create a back story (biography) of a character and use it to develop a detailed characterization

write a two-person scene


create improvised dialogue that reveals character motivation, advances plot, provides exposition, and conveys theme

use improvisation as an approach to scripted material


discuss the collaborative relationships and interdependence of artists who work in the theater

devise an organizational chart to demonstrate the structure and flow necessary to the development and presentation of a theatrical production


understand and describe the form and structure of plays

evaluate personal progress through the creation and use of a portfolio of theater work


understand and relate how theater-related media and other associated areas provide occupational opportunities in the world of work

understand and relate how the fundamentals of different art forms relate to the study, process, and production of theater