Of Mice and Men - Adapting Scenes from Book to Play

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Discipline

Language Arts, History, Performing Arts

Grade Level

7-12

Type of Activity

Small Group (one for each “act” of the play), Ongoing, Genre Adaptation, Performing Arts, Writing, Editing, Oral Presentation

Objectives

  • Students will understand and apply skills of adapting one genre to another.
  • Students will effectively understand the author’s intent regarding plot, characterization, setting, and language.
  • Students will practice oral/dramatic presentation skills.

Overview

Of Mice and Men has a natural dramatic structure and is perfect for an adaptation to the stage (after all, Steinbeck himself wrote a successful version for the stage). Students can easily learn the art of adaptation of genres, a valuable lesson. Selected scenes from each “act” should be included in the adaptation.

Materials Needed/Preparation

  • Teachers should be familiar with drama conventions. The following two websites are excellent resources for both teachers and students:
  • Copies of Of Mice and Men.

Estimated Time

The time spent will vary upon the needs of the class. At the very least, one day should be spent on covering the conventions of playwriting. The time spent on adaptation and performance will depend on the availability of class time. 

Procedures

  • Once students understand the conventions of adaptation, have them break into groups (one group per act) and adapt the essence of portions of the novel or all of it, depending on time, to a stage version. This writing will satisfy descriptive and narrative writing requirements.
  • Students may use dialogue verbatim from the novel, alter it, add new dialogue and action, but all must be in context and in keeping with the spirit of the original (no aliens from space kidnapping Lennie and anointing him superpowers).
  • As with most plays, the dialogue furthers the plot and the action. Stage directions should be minimal.
  • This is an incredibly-fun and enriching activity, and students gain great insights into the novel as they first-hand “translate” it into another genre. Portions of the new play can then be performed in front of the class.
  • Teachers should constantly monitor each group to make sure that each student in a group is participating and that no individuals are dominating the process.

Post Activity/Takeaways/Follow-up

  • Post Activity
    • Students can spend some time critiquing (respectfully), in writing, each group’s adaptation and performance. This activity will satisfy evaluation writing requirements.
    • Students can also (in confidence and in writing to the teacher) critique the roles of their fellow group members in terms of participation, cooperation, level of enthusiasm, and so forth.
  • Takeaways
    • Students gain a greater understanding of the novel through “translating” it into another genre while learning more about the structure and process of writing for the stage.
  • Follow-up
    • Students can continue to adapt scenes from subsequent pieces of literature.

Assessment

  • During the life of the project, teachers will monitor students to ensure they are on track, on subject, and on objectives. Teachers should regularly read the in-project scripts to ensure the above.
  • At the end of the project, teachers should assign a grade to both the groups and the individuals in those groups. 
  • How well did students adhere to proper writing style?
  • How closely did the students’ script stay to Of Mice and Men?

Common core state Standards Met

  • Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2, 3
    • Craft and Structure: 4, 5, 6
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 7, 9
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10
  • Writing Standards 6-12
    • Text Types and Purposes: 3
    • Production and Distribution of Writing: 4, 5, 6
    • Range of Writing: 10
  • Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
    • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: 4, 6
  • Language Standards 6-12
    • Conventions of Standard English: 1, 2
    • Knowledge of Language: 3
    • Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: 4, 5, 6
  • Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 2
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 9
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10
  • Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6-12
    • Range of Writing: 10