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Development Strategies

Arts Tasks in This Report

Grade 8
A Theatre Performing Task

The Camping Script Before Field Testing

The following script was used in the NAEP 1995 arts field test in theatre. Field testing taught NAEP staff a great deal about arts performance assessment. In the case of performance tasks like this one for which scripts were used, field testing showed the necessity of

  • making the task very clear by breaking up information into logical, clear pieces;
  • telling students exactly what the task demands;
  • reminding students of the task demands during preparation time; and
  • encouraging student preparation and structuring preparation time carefully.

After reading through the script shown below, compare it to the revised version used in the final form of the assessment. (Italicized text in brackets is for staff who administered the task to students.)

The Camping Task Script

You are going to work together to act out a scene. You will need to concentrate and use your imagination. As you act out your scene, you will also need to rely on your voice and body to help you create your character and tell your story.

First I'll describe the situation the characters are in. Then I'll give each of you a card that tells you about your character and what your character needs to do in the situation. Each of you has two jobs: one is to try to act like the character described on your card; the other is to work with the rest of the group to create a scene for all of the characters. You will have five minutes to work together and plan your scene. Your scene should have a beginning, a middle, and an ending. The beginning should set the scene, the middle should show the problem, and the ending should solve the problem somehow.

During your planning time, you should not try to figure out exactly what each character will say. Just work out a general idea of what things you want to have happen in the scene, and start thinking about how each of you will show what your character is like. You should try out some of the ideas you are considering to see how they work.

These tape marks identify your stage. You should think of this side as the audience. [Indicate camera side] Please do not move outside of the marks during your performance. I will let you know when you have just one minute of planning time left; then I will stop you. Then you will have one minute to take your starting positions and get ready to play your character before I tell you to begin your scene. Your scene should be no more than three minutes long.

This is the situation: You and your friends are camping in the woods. It is late at night and you have all been sleeping. One of you hears a strange noise. Remember that the two things you need to do are each portray your own character and work together to act out the problem and show how it gets solved.

Now I'll pass out the cards. [Pass out cards.] You have five minutes to plan your scene.

[Cards read as follows:

Actor 1: You have heard a strange noise and you are convinced that there is a bear or other wild animal nearby. You feel you are in great danger. You want to get your friends to take action to protect yourselves.

Actor 2: You have heard nothing. You are comfortable and want to sleep. You want to get your friend to leave you alone and go back to sleep.

Actor 3: You have heard nothing. You are a tease and a mischief-maker. You want to create trouble between your friends. You don't care whether you leave the area or not.

Actor 4: You have heard nothing, but you didn't want to come on this camping trip in the first place. You want to go home.]

You have one minute of planning time left.

Now it is time to get into position and get ready to play your character.

Start your scene now. Remember to speak loudly and clearly; your audience is over here.

NEXT: The Camping Script After Field Testing

Last updated 7 March 2003 (HM)