Voice and Diction Unit Plan
First and Last Name Tracy Garratt
ADA10/20, Grade 9/10 Dramatic Arts, Open
Voice and Diction
In recent years, classroom teachers have made a conscious effort to improve the self-image of the
speaker whose verbal skills are poor of for whom English is a second language. To accomplish this,
voice and diction have been de-emphasized; in other words, what is said is considered of greater
importance than how it is said. Other objectives – encouragement of the speaker and the building of
pride in a cultural heritage – have been given priority. Although no one would quarrel with this
approach as the first step in language improvement, it is to be hoped that once a degree of self
confidence has been achieved, the student will be helped to move on to better habits of speech.
Clarity, audibility, and constantly improving vocabulary are still our goals. For citizens in a democratic
society, freedom of speech is of little value without the ability to express ourselves clearly and
effectively. Today that ability affects almost every facet of life and most jobs. Therefore, the speech
arts are more important than ever before, and it is condescending to demand anything less than the
best of students in this area as well as in others. The teacher’s acceptance of a patois or a sub-
standard level of English does the speaker a disservice both now and later.
An actor’s voice is basic to his/her craft. This 3-week unit plan gives students an understanding of
various elements of proper speech including identifying and naming the vocal apparatus and
familiarizing them with unit terminology. As the unit progresses, the students will be exposed to
helpful warm-up exercises and activities to improve the sound and quality of one’s voice. The unit
contains formative and summative performances (poetry interpretation, reader’s theatre/storytelling,
monologue) used to assess and evaluate student success.
Building the Foundation
Habits of Learning Taxonomy
Thinking skills for this unit plan lie primarily within Bloom’s Cognitive Domain, requiring students to
gain and comprehend knowledge through teacher lessons and apply, analyze and synthesize their
knowledge in the creation and production of various storytelling scenarios. Students will demonstrate
hierarchical skills of evaluation by passing judgment on peer performances done in class and reflecting
upon their experiences in drama journals.
Understand the unit terminology.
Identify/label and discuss the proper use of the vocal apparatus
Understand the importance of voice and diction in performance, especially in the development
of characters for the stage.
Understand that the ability to communicate effectively is a skill that is transferable to all
aspects of one’s life.
Identify the various techniques and strategies of well known voice teachers and apply these to
their own work.
Ontario Ministry of Education – ADA10/20 Expectations
This unit plan gives students the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the following
expectations of the ADA10/20 course from “The Ontario Curriculum – Grades 9 & 10 – The Arts”:
demonstrate an understanding of volume, tone, pace, and intention in the development of
demonstrate an understanding of the basic process of voice
explain how props, costume, masks, voice and movement communicate a role.
identify and apply different language registers in vocal technique associated with a role within
a drama (e.g., high, low pitch);
create the inner and outer life of a character using a variety of vocal techniques as well as
demonstrate the ability to take responsibility, both as an individual and as a member of a
group, when working in a theatre ensemble
evaluate vocal performances (monologue, poetry, stage work) using a variety of strategies
identify and evaluate their personal artistic strengths with regards to vocal techniques
analyze, through journal writing, discussion and questioning, the significance of what the
student has gained from their artistic experiences
What do people gain (not just performers) from studying vocal techniques?
How can vocal techniques help build communication skills and interpersonal
How does a performer use his/her voice in delivering the playwright’s intended
message? What are the various vocal apparatus? What elements of voice
must we focus on?
Approximate Time Needed
Approximately 15 school days – about three week
Prior to embarking upon the vocal unit, students must already have basic performance skills such as
tableau, mime, pantomime, non-verbalized communication skills (gestures, facial expression, body
expression, etc.) Students must also have a basic understanding of character creation and
development. Scene and script work experience would also be an asset before engaging in this unit,
especially for reflective purposes.
Day 1 - Introducing the Unit – Terminology and Vocal Mechanism
Bell Work: Begin with yoga warm up.
Hook: Show students clips of monologue exams from past students. Allow the class to discuss
aspects of the performance that went well and areas where the performance could have been
improved. Teacher must ensure that a discussion on vocal clarity and inflection is begun. Teacher and
students engage in a discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the performances.
Teach: Performance expectations for all future stage work.
Activity: 1. Using a dictionary, students will define the following terms:
Rate Diction Volume Pace Inflection Tone Mood Articulate Pronunciation
Audible Pitch Diaphragm Resonators Dialect Monotone Nasality voiceless/voiced
2. Using the overhead projector and acetate of the actor’s vocal apparatus, students will label their
own copy of the overhead. (See appendix A)
Assessment: Informal visual check that each student labeled their copy of Appendix A.
Day 2 – Controlled Breathing and Developing Tonal Quality
Bell Work: Begin with yoga warm up from yesterday
Hook: Show students clip of Shel Silverstein’s “Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too”
Teach: 1. Controlled breathing exercises. Say: Lie flat on your back with one hand on your abdomen
and the other on your chest. Keep the chest still. The abdomen should move out when you inhale and
in when you exhale. Now stand up and, with the same diaphragmatic action, pant like a dog, with only
the abdomen pushing in and out. Keep chest area motionless.
Using diaphragmatic breathing, take a deep breath and see how far you can count as you exhale on
one breath. Do not force the count. When you grow tense, breathe, start again, and exhale the air
slowly for control. Work until you can effortlessly count up to sixty.
2. Brainstorm a list of known, four-line nursery rhymes such as “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, or “Twinkle,
Twinkle, Little Star.” Using controlled diaphragmatic breathing, practice saying the complete four
lines, from memory, of the nursery rhyme of your choice. Practice until you can say them slowly, two
times on one exhalation. Control the output of air so it is depleted as the second jingle ends. Provide
students with examples of nursery rhymes if necessary (Appendix B)
3. Rich tone quality in one’s voice. NOTE for copying: Quality is that characteristic that distinguishes
your voice from any other voice. While basic quality depends to a large extent on the shape and size
of your vocal mechanism, you can still learn to produce clear, resonant tones. Unless the part calls for
it, actors must avoid harshness and breathiness. A harsh voice is strained and raspy from lack of an
open throat. A breathy voice indicates that more air is being used than is necessary. To test your
voice for breathiness, light a candle or place a piece of paper in front of your mouth. If the candle
flickers or the paper moves, you are using too much air. Try this exercise with students.
Say: To relax your throat, try the following exercises:
Drop your head forward as though you had suddenly fallen asleep. Let the jaw drop open and become
completely relaxed. Keeping the jaw, neck and face relaxed, move your head around slowly in a semi-
circle. Repeat, rolling it in the opposite direction. Keep your neck relaxed. Never go all the way
around. This is not good for your neck.
Yawn lazily. Take a deep breath, stretch and yawn again. With your throat open and relaxed, quietly,
slowly say the following while prolonging the vowel sounds: a-a-ah, ma; o-o-oh, blow; aw; ah; ay;
ee; oo. Yawn again to relax.
Activity: Choral reading of the poem “Cloony the Clown” by Shel Silverstein. (Appendix C) Think the
whole text but mouth it with no voice. Really exaggerate each word – every ending, every beginning,
every middle of every word. Prolong the vowels. When you have silently mouthed the whole text, go
back and voice the entire piece.
Gather into groups of four and divide the poem into four sections. Prepare to perform the reading for
Assessment: Students perform in their groups. Notice how your vocal mechanism has been taught to
move and work during the silent exercise? Journal about this activity for homework. What did you
learn about your own speaking voice during this exercise? What did you learn about delivering the
message of this text (or any text) during this exercise? How can you ensure that your audience
understands the basic message of a piece? What did your group decide to highlight from the text?
How did you divide the text? Why did you make the decisions that you did?
Day 3 – Learning to Pronounce
Bell Work: Begin with vocal exercises/warm up from yesterday.
Hook: Show students clip of vocal warm up and engage in activity
Teach: Introduce students to a list of commonly mispronounced words. (Appendix D)
Activity: Have students create a short paragraph incorporating at least five of the mispronounced
words from the list. Students must practice this paragraph for delivery by the end of the period.
Students are to concentrate on controlled breathing; rich, clear tone quality; variety of pitch, volume,
and rate to convey meaning and feeling; clear articulation and proper pronunciation.
Assessment: Students deliver their paragraphs on stage at end of period. Teacher assesses for
controlled breathing, tone, pitch, volume, rate, pronunciation and articulation. Students peer/self
assess and journal about the activity for next day.
Day 4 – Inflection and Pitch with Onomatopoeia
Bell Work and Review: definitions of pitch and inflection – ask students to use each word in a
sentence and hand it in to be checked.
Vocal warm up from day previous and new exercise here:
Hook: View “Who’s on First” video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sShMA85pv8M
Discuss how inflection and pitch influence the message.
Teach: Note for copying: Vocal quality or tone is a valuable tool for expressing personality. As an
actor you should find the tone that best conveys your character and should practice using that tone
throughout rehearsals, so that by performance, you can reproduce it without strain. Tone conveys
emotion even when words are not distinguishable.
Say: Say each of these words, “oh”, “yes”, “well”, “really”, “possibly”, conveying each of these
emotions: happiness, pride, fatique, fright anger, suspicion, innocence, pleading, sorrow.
Say “oh” with the inflection that conveys the meaning indicated:
“that hurts!” “how lovely!” “so what.” “well, perhaps.” “look out!” “don’t be so rude.”
“do you expect me to believe that?”
Reproduce the tone colour of these words by making your voice sound like the meaning of the words:
bang, crackle, swish, grunt, tinkle, roar, coo, thin, wheeze, bubble, buzz, splash, clang, gurgle.
Activity: 1. Ask students to write this sentence in their notebooks: “I didn’t say you had an attitude
problem. Students are to inflect/stress each word individually as they repeat the sentence eight times.
Students are to write out the subtext/unspoken meaning for each version of the sentence.
2. Choral reading. In groups, practice one of the following poems for delivery in front of the class. Be
sure to divide the poems into interesting arrangements. (Appendix E)
Assessment: Using the rubric provided (Appendix F) students assess themselves for their
contribution to the assignment.
Day 5 – Volume and Rate
Bell Work: Vocal warm up from day previous or yoga.
Hook: Show the following clip from youtube about “fast talking”.
Teach: As an actor, you should aim at a general rate that is slow enough to be understood and yet
rapid enough to keep the audience’s attention. Rate is influenced by (a) pause, which gives emphasis
to the word it follows or draws attention to the word it precedes, and (b) duration of sound which
means that vowels and consonants can be prolonged or clipped short.
Do the following exercise by varying the rate as the meaning suggests:
a) They climbed slowly, wearily up the summit.
b) What an exquisite formal you are wearing.
c) This shrimp pizza is delicious!
d) Hurray! We won!
e) I am proud to accept this honour.
f) Hurry up; we’re late.
g) I’m so tired; I can hardly move
h) Don’t tell me we’ve got to listen to that again.
Activity: Using a Shakespearean passage (Appendix G), students will experiment with pauses and
rate to see how many different meanings they can convey. They then will go over the passages a
second time deciding where the thought groups divide. They will then read the passages aloud to the
class, watching for pauses and rate. Students are to hold the important words longer than others and
slip rapidly over the unimportant ones. Students are to thoughtfully allow the idea to speed their
delivery or slow it down, feeling the emotion and mood of the piece.
Assessment: Teacher will check for understanding and interpretation of the message by discussing
what might be happening in the selected pieces.
Day 6 – Choral Reading and Readers Theatre
Bell Work: Vocal Warm ups
Hook: Teacher shows the video of high school students participating in a Readers Theatre
Teach: Teacher and students engage in a discussion about strengths and weaknesses of the video
performance. Talk about the message and how it was delivered. Students and teacher discuss layering
of voices and the use of vocal techniques in creating the final product. Working together, students
come up with a definition of Readers Theatre.
Activity: Teacher divides the class into casts and assigns roles from one of the scripts – (Appendix
H). Voices in each cast should have a variety of sound while being appropriate to the material.
Students read the selection silently to get an overall feeling and idea about the author’s intent. As a
cast, students discuss the material and (with teacher assistance) decide the material’s dominant mood
and basic idea. Identify phrases or words which are significant and need to be emphasized with the
voice. Individually, students fill out Activity sheet. (Appendix I) As a cast, students repeatedly
rehearse the selection aloud. Students suggest, with the voice, the experiences that are being read.
For example, if a line says, “he was afraid”, rehearse various vocal ways to suggest fear. Some of the
selections call for the entire cast to say parts together. In rehearsing these sections, listen to the
other cast members as you say the line, so the phrase can be read in unison with the proper feeling.
As a group, decide where each will stand or sit. For this assignment, movement or gestures aren’t
necessary. Concentration should be on the voice. As each cast takes the stage, a cast member should
be selected to read out the title and the author of the selection being performed. Students should look
up from the script as much as possible during the performance. Focus on vocal intention,
pronunciation and appropriate rate, pitch, inflection etc.
Assessment: Teacher evaluates the group effort using rubric. (Appendix J)
Day 7 – Identifying Readers Theatre
Bell Work: Vocal Warm ups
Hook: Students view the following video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng_pyZRNnYk
Teach: Students read together pages 9-11 of RT Fundamentals (photocopies are needed for the
class) and make notes on the following terms:
Continuum identity overt conventional theatre layman plasticity dialogue lectern
stage trappings double entendre offstage focus symbolic excitability onstage focus
Activity: Keeping in mind the new terms, students will form groups of two and write their own
introductory scripts to explain to a novice audience just what the art form is. This script can be
performed for an audience if time allows. The script must epitomize Readers Theatre. Students can
use (Appendix K) page 218 for specific instructions.
Assessment: Teacher will use the attached rubric (Appendix L) to evaluate the scripts that the
students have written. Students write drama journal entries reflecting upon the unique qualities of RT
and make comparisons to conventional theatre.
Day 8 – The Presentational Approach
Bell Work: Vocal Warm ups
Teach: Students read pages 13-15 of RT Fundamentals (photocopies are needed for the class) and
will make notes on the following terms:
picture overlay, localized space, acoustic space, offstage focus, “mirror technique”, presentational vs
representational style, verbal vs behavioral synecdoche.
Activity: Students form groups and, after choosing one of the short selections, divide the reading
parts amongst the group members. Students read the scene and decide the “flavor” and mood as well
as the types of characters and the important ideas to be communicated. Students rehearse the scene
aloud to make the words and characters come alive vocally. Then practice using offstage focus. Try to
use a mirror during rehearsal so that the students can see how they look while they are rehearsing.
Students read lines looking at each other and then meet together in the playing area and continue the
technique of placing the scene in the middle of the audience until offstage focus is established with
ease. Students decide how the action of the scene will take place and how the action can be
condensed into one or two symbolic movements that will encourage the audience to fill in the gaps.
Students are not to do the whole action. Symbolize it and offer it to the listener.
Assessment: Students write drama journal entries comparing presentational style with
representational style in theatre. Students will explain picture overlay and distinguish the differences
between localized space and acoustic space. In their journals, students must also relate offstage focus
to the “mirror” technique and give examples of both verbal and behavioral synecdoche. What is the
use and value of synecdoche in Readers Theatre?
Day 9 - Selecting the Material
Bell Work: Vocal Warm ups
Teach: Teacher provides a list of criteria for selecting an appropriate piece for performance:
compelling content, creative language, conflict, clear characterization, and camaraderie. After viewing
the above performance, students and teacher discuss the piece using terminology from the lesson and
from the entire unit. Was the selection chosen by this ensemble effective? Why? Why not? What
textual material is most appropriate for a Readers Theatre performance? What qualities must the text
have in order to be a good choice for this art form?
Activity: Using the library (books, computers, internet), students will research, in groups of three to
five, a textual piece to use as a performance piece. Once located, the students will seek teacher
approval for the piece and then will begin preparing and rehearsing
Assessment: Teacher will approve each group’s selection by assessing whether the criteria was used
in making the selection. The piece must have enough lines for each group member and must be five
to seven minutes in length.
Days 10-15 – Readers Theatre/Storytelling Rehearsal and Performance – for an audience.
Bell Work: Vocal Warm ups
The remaining days in the unit will be devoted to rehearsal and preparation for the culminating
performance. Essentially, time each day can be spent rehearsing and memorizing lines. Furthermore,
students must seek out costumes and engage in set design for their respective pieces. They may also
be experimenting with lighting and sound.
Unit Culminating Task - Readers Theatre Performances
Now that students have mastered many of the elements of proper vocal technique as well as choral
reading and Readers Theatre, they will be required to perform selected pieces for audience members.
Students will be required to take the role both as players and as audience members. Placed into
minimum groups of four by the teacher, students will select a piece for performance similar to those
presented throughout the unit. Groups will be evaluated according to the attached rubric. (Appendix
This performance task gives students the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the following
expectations of the ADA10/20 course from “The Ontario Curriculum – Grades 9 & 10 – The Arts”.
1. Describe the conventions of different forms of drama as well as elements of proper vocal
2. Create the inner and outer life of a character using a variety of strategies
3. Apply appropriate voice and movement techniques in rehearsal and performance
4. Demonstrate the ability to take responsibility, both as an individual and as a member of a
group, when working in a theatre ensemble
5. Demonstrate an understanding of the dynamic role of the audience in a live performance
The audience evaluation component of the above performance task gives students the opportunity to
demonstrate achievement of the following expectation of the ADA10/20 course from “The Ontario
Curriculum – Grades 9 & 10 – The Arts”:
6. Evaluate their dramatic performances, using a variety of criteria
Accommodations for Differentiated Instruction
Although this unit plan appeals to a variety of learner types and multiple
intelligences, many accommodations or supports could be integrated to aid resource
students, English Language Learners or even create extensions to make the unit
more challenging for gifted students.
Resource students and/or ELL students could be assembled in multi-leveled
groupings to ensure that they are helped and supported by more capable students.
Journal entries could be handled differently for students with communications
exceptionalities or language barriers by allowing such students to write their
journals in their first languages and then translating them into English.
Alternatively, journal reflections could be presented to the teacher for assessment
in the form of an oral interview, rather than a written product. Furthermore,
adaptive technologies such as Dragon Naturally Speaking speech recognition
software could help students compose drama journal entries who have difficulties
writing. Finally, as students develop their performance/vocal skills in isolation,
which is the design of the unit, some gifted pupils may want to proceed more
quickly through the development process. These students could be grouped
together and asked to workshop/practice together and, on subsequent days, they
may even be integrated as moderators.
Materials and Resources Required For Unit
Individual lessons for this unit require photocopies of material for students. The
teacher must prepare in advance for each day, ensuring that materials are ready
Printed for distribution as the lessons progress.
Students should have access to printed texts for additional reference as they are
embarking upon this theatre unit.
Teacher needs to have access to various nursery rhymes, short stories, as well as
Supplies: poetry for use in these lessons. When particular textual material is referenced,
these are provided as appendices at the end of this unit.
1) The Introductory lesson will require access to previous students’ taped
exemplars of monologues/vocal performances. Therefore, a teacher wishing to
execute this lesson will need a computer, screen and LCD projector as well as video
of last year’s pieces.
2) Since clips demonstrating breathing exercises are embedded into many lessons
Technology: within this unit plan, the teacher should have daily access to a laptop with internet
Hardware, access, a projector and a screen with which he/she can show the clips. Please note
Software & that most of the clips are generated through Youtube (links to urls in the day-to-
Internet day descriptions above) which is often blocked by boards of education. An
Resources alternative way to present this clips would be for the teacher to convert these
streamed videos using a tool such as www.mediaconverter.org , switching the files
to DVD format using a program such as VSO Divx-DVD conversion tool
d_free.cfm) and burning them to disc using an engine such as Nero. Then, the clips
should play on a standard TV+DVD player or laptop + projector.
Student Assessment Plan
This unit plan allows for various types of assessment. The subject area of drama is unique in that
students are usually provided with immediate feedback from a variety of sources (self/peers/teacher).
Specifically, as students perform breathing exercises and build their vocal skills throughout this unit,
their performances will be reflected upon and their functionality will be assessed by themselves, their
peers and the teacher. In addition, students are asked to write three drama journal entries (artifacts
of student learning) throughout the unit plan. Each entry is designated for students to reflect upon
specifics within the form and function of voice and diction as well as choral reading and Readers
Theatre. These entries should be assessed for completion by the teacher, as well as for level of
knowledge and clarity of communication. At the unit’s mid-point, the teacher should meet with each
student individually to give specific feedback regarding performance and generate ideas concerning
next steps. The teacher could consider using a chart such as the “Teacher Observation Chart”
(Appendix N) to organize comments. Finally, students are evaluated on their summative (product) or
culminating task using the rubric provided (Appendix M).
Appendix A (Vocal Apparatus Diagram)
Appendix B (List of Commonly Mispronounced Words)
Word Correct Rhyme Incorrect Rhyme
Get bet bit
For ore fur
Again pen pin
Just must mist
Because pause buzz
Any penny skinny
Our hour are
Duty beauty booty
Assume fume doom
New mew moo
Poor sewer sore
Route root bout
your sewer per
roof proof foot
suite sweet boot
I’ll aisle all
Them hem hum
Sure sewer per
Appendix C (Four line Nursery Rhymes)
Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.
Ding, dong, bell,
Pussy's in the well.
Who put her in?
Little Johnny Green.
Who pulled her out?
Little Tommy Stout.
What a naughty boy was that,
To try to drown poor pussy cat,
Who never did him any harm,
And killed the mice in his father's barn.
Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum!
I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he 'live, or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread
Appendix D (“Cloony the Clown” by Shel Silverstein)
Cloony The Clown by Shel Silverstein
I'll tell you the story of Cloony the Clown
Who worked in a circus that came through town.
His shoes were too big and his hat was too small,
But he just wasn't, just wasn't funny at all.
He had a trombone to play loud silly tunes,
He had a green dog and a thousand balloons.
He was floppy and sloppy and skinny and tall,
But he just wasn't, just wasn't funny at all.
And every time he did a trick,
Everyone felt a little sick.
And every time he told a joke,
Folks sighed as if their hearts were broke.
And every time he lost a shoe,
Everyone looked awfully blue.
And every time he stood on his head,
Everyone screamed, "Go back to bed!"
And every time he made a leap,
Everybody fell asleep.
And every time he ate his tie,
Everyone began to cry.
And Cloony could not make any money
Simply because he was not funny.
One day he said, "I'll tell this town
How it feels to be an unfunny clown."
And he told them all why he looked so sad,
And he told them all why he felt so bad.
He told of Pain and Rain and Cold,
He told of Darkness in his soul,
And after he finished his tale of woe,
Did everyone cry? Oh no, no, no,
They laughed until they shook the trees
With "Hah-Hah-Hahs" and "Hee-Hee-Hees."
They laughed with howls and yowls and shrieks,
They laughed all day, they laughed all week,
They laughed until they had a fit,
They laughed until their jackets split.
The laughter spread for miles around
To every city, every town,
Over mountains, 'cross the sea,
From Saint Tropez to Mun San Nee.
And soon the whole world rang with laughter,
Lasting till forever after,
While Cloony stood in the circus tent,
With his head drooped low and his shoulders bent.
And he said,"THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEANT -
I'M FUNNY JUST BY ACCIDENT."
And while the world laughed outside.
Cloony the Clown sat down and cried.
Appendix D2 (History of Choral Reading)
What is Choral Drama?
a group of performers (or a chorus) speaking their lines in unison (together)
they also move in a co-ordinated manner
a very early from of drama
Where did it come from?
Choral drama became extremely important in Greece during the 5th century B.C.
For ancient Athenians (residents of the city of Athens), the theatre was closely linked to
their religious celebrations.
A major festival was held once a year to honour the god of wine and fertility, Dionysus.
At the festival, rituals called dithyrambs involved choral speaking and movement. In the
dithyramb a leader chanted narrative hymns and the chorus would respond together. They
also involved movement.
These were the first events to bring drama into ritual ceremonies.
The Set-Up of the Greek Theatre
The Greek theatre looked a little bit different from ours.
In the centre of the outdoor theatre was the orchestra (or “dancing place”) where the
chorus would perform. The orchestra may have included an altar – remember these were
The orchestra was surrounded by the theatron (or “seating place”) where the audience
would sit. The theatron was a semi-circular, sloping hillside with benches. This means that
the audience sat almost all the way around the stage – almost like theatre-in-the-round.
Facing the theatron was the skene (or “hut”) which was a temporary dressing for the
actors. Eventually, the skene began to be used as a set piece with three doors opening into
Appendix D3 (Steps to a Fabulous Choral Reading Performance)
Steps to Producing a Fabulous Choral Reading Performance
Appoint a leader. This leader is like a conductor who cues the different parts when they are to speak. He or she
keeps an annotated script of the choral piece so as to have all the parts readily available.
1. Analyze the meaning of the selection. Are there unfamiliar words? Look them up.
2. What are the emotions in the piece? What feelings is the writer conveying to the audience?
3. Look at the piece for sound cues. What are they? How can you use them?
4. Is there a natural rhythm to the selection? Does it dance, plod, swing, march, gallop? How can a regular
rhythm be read without a singsong effect?
5. What words need to be emphasized? Where are the pauses?
6. Where should the readers breathe? What phrases should be read without taking a breath?
7. At what volume should different parts of the poem be read?
8. How could the various voices in the group capture the mood of the words, phrases, and lines? Decide how the
different choral effects could be incorporated.
9. Experiment. Finalize and practice. Have fun!
Voice quality /5
Overall presentation /10
Appendix E (Poetry with Onomatopoeia)
SWIMMERS’ STROKES (Alliterative Onomatopoeia)
silently slipstreaming, Simon’s swim
huffing heavily Harry hurries him
Pete plods, pants, pushes, paddles past
Luke languidly lashes, lumbering last
spluttering Stevie sideways strokes
Barry backstrokes, beating blokes
sniggering Stevie swishes, splash
Davey darts, dodges during dash
wallowing waves wash white water
anaphylactic, aching arteries and aorta
swirling subterranean swimmer surfs
stonkered Stevie sinks, Simon swerves
RAIN, THE RAIN
rain, the rain
is back again
washing window pane
the gully traps
will overflow through gaps
drops, the drops
can hear the plops
water off branch flops
drains, the drains
are blocked, storm wanes
quickly check the mains
drips, the drips
will burst seed-pips
shoot through earth rips
flood, the flood
brings logs and mud
downriver, debris scud
peace, the peace
now raindrops cease
dam levels will increase
RUNNING WATER (Onomatopoeia)
water plops into pond
warbling magpies in tree
trilling, melodic thrill
whoosh, passing breeze
flags flutter and flap
frog croaks, bird whistles
babbling bubbles from tap
TOOT! TOOT! TOURIST TRAIN
burp! bacon-bits bolted at breakfast
panting, preparing for Puffing-Billy
paint-puff pretty-pout in pink-paste
huff-puff, hurry up highway-hilly
wow! Winter’s white-washed wonder
tourists teetering towards train track
ugh! utter urbanites, umbrellas under
brrr! brrr ! bent beneath brolleys-black
psst! peep at piously praying people
chant chanson-chapters in chapel-church
slippery-slide sleet sheers sloping steeple
sniff! smoke! shh! silently source search
brrm! BMW barges bracken-fern, brakes
beside bridge-trestle built behind Belgrave
toot! toot! tottering, turning-train time takes
bye! bystanders bawl at ballyraggers brave
nyah! nyah! nigglers nag, nightfall near
even Emerald-lake’s empty of everyone
hoorah! happy homecomers halting here
fa-la-la! fabulous, fantastic, frolic-fun
bounce, dribble, bounce
stumble, thud, stop
bounce, bounce, take aim
into basket drop
rebound, dribble, bounce
jump, reaching, stretch
smack, hit back-board
thump, weeping, retch
umpire whistles, calls ‘foul’
coach mumbles, players grumble
shrill blast, time-out’s past
back to task, run, rumble
SEE THE SKATER (Onomatopoeia)
see the skater
leaps, clicks heels
thuds back on ice
in dizzy circles
stretches in arabesque
points toe north
metallic blades tangle
jangling, jarring smash
They’re under starters orders
and they’re off.
The howling hooray henries
and the toff.
They’re going to roaring races,
with sagacious smiles upon their faces,
leaving behind tap dancing traces,
on we go for wins not places.
Singing loudly as they go,
for they’re not yet to know
there is little luck in tow,
but they're game even so.
Betting family fortune on the nose,
is not the way it goes,
for the hearken heaven knows,
it’s a pitter-patter path that they have chose.
Cackling crowds are mumbling milling round,
There’s a bumble, bustling, buzzing sound,
neighing horses puffing in parade ground,
eager eyes watching, hoping winner found.
Now it’s on to whinny winning post,
so that they can be hallowed host
with whizzing winner holy ghost
and then they will hopefully
raise their voices in giggled glee.
Their arms will entwine,
then they’ll all shout together,
never mind inclement weather,
“That Ones Mine”
Appendix F (Rubric for Choral Reading)
Choral Reading Rubric
1- Poor 2- Needs 3-Good 4-Excellent
Student reads designated
script parts when
Student follows along
with script while others
are reading their parts
Student actively listens to
other’s lines and input to
Student uses appropriate
tone for character and
Student reads his/her
script lines audible to
Student presents script
lines with good posture
Student read script in a
(out of 28 points)
Appendix G (Shakespearean Passages)
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Act 3, Scene 1
To be, or not to be, that is the question,
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep
No more, and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to; 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished to die to sleep! -
To sleep, perchance to dream, ay there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil
Must give us pause - there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th'oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin; who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action…. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia - Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
Act 3, Scene 2,
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interréd with their bones,
So let it be with Caesar…. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it….
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
(For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all; all honourable men)
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral….
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man….
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason…. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
Appendix H (Scripts for Choral Reading) See page 3-5 of Readers Theatre Fundamentals
Appendix I (Choral Reading Activity Sheet) See page 215 Readers Theatre Fundamentals
Appendix J (Instructor’s Evaluation Sheet) See page 216 Readers Theatre Fundamentals
Appendix K (Instructor’s Evaluation Sheet B) See page 218 Readers Theatre Fundamentals
Appendix L (Rubric) See page 220 Readers Theatre Fundamentals
Appendix M (Culminating Task Rubric)
Rubric for Reader’s Theatre
Beginning (Level 1) Proficient (Level 3) Excellent (Level 4) Mark
Vocal/Verbal * Little verbal or * Occasionally * Demonstrates * Demonstrates variety
Expression vocal use demonstrates variety variety in in
* Expression in volume, tone, pitch volume, tone, pitch
monotone or or two of the criteria and and
difficult to hear * Expression is mostly voice quality voice quality
understandable * Expression is appropriate
interesting to character
and understandable * Expression enhances
Reading * Reading is done * Reading contains * Reading contains * Reading is well-
word- noticeable little phrased
by-word with little choppiness choppiness with mostly in clause and
sense with pauses and some sentence units, which
of punctuation or breaks pauses in the middle augment clarity of
phrasing; meaning at unexpected times; of meaning and
and meaning and clauses or sentence expression
expression are lost expression units; clarity or * Punctuation is used
in the are affected meaning effectively
“labour” of reading * Little attention is and expression
* No attention is paid paid to generally
to punctuation not affected
punctuation * Some attention is
Focus * Performance is * Performance is * Flashes of * Performance is alive
inconsistent. Body mostly spontaneity and
language is consistent, relatively and style enliven explores the bound of
unprofessional smooth. Body solid form. Body language
language is performance. Body is
somewhat language is compelling and
professional convincing professional
Volume * Volume is inaudible * Volume is too low * Volume is adequate * Volume projects well.
Audience can easily
Preparedness * Student has not * Student has * Student has * Student is well
practiced and/or practiced practiced prepared
planned and a general outline and the outline is * It is obvious from the
presentation with clear polish and ease of the
thoroughly some details is in * Most details are performance that
place planned much
ahead practice and planning
Appendix N (Teacher’s Observation Chart)
“Teacher Observation Chart”
Observation of __________________________________ during
Notes are based on student’s participation and responses during in-class activities and group
Depth of knowledge and understanding of Ability to apply rules of performance (if
Quality of performance (focus, communication): Areas for improvement: