UNIT II   Lesson Plan 3: Perform Your Civil War Scene


  • Learn important Civil War events
  • Read an image to describe what happened before, during, and after what is pictured
  • Write action and dialog based on the appearance of the people in an image
  • Perform with a group in front of an audience

Questions for Discussion

  • What do you know about the Civil War?
  • What important events took place during the Civil War?
  • Who were important people in the Civil War and what did they do?
  • What problems addressed during the Civil War do we still confront today?

Civil War Scenes
In this lesson, students collaborate on writing a short scene with action and dialog, based on selected paintings from Red Grooms: The Blue and the Gray. Groups will introduce their scene posed like their chosen painting and then act out what happens next, incorporating dialog to accompany their movements. 

The teacher models how to write a short scene. Have the class discuss a sample painting together, thinking about what is happening in the scene, the identity of a particular character, and how they relate to the rest of the people in the image. Brainstorm actions and dialog for them. It is helpful to speculate on what happened before the scene in the painting, and what will happen next.

Guiding Questions

  • Who do you think the most important characters are in this image? Point out one of them.
  • What do you think they are thinking or feeling?
  • How would they act toward the other characters?
  • What would they say to the other characters in this scene?

Small Group Scenes
Divide students into groups that correspond to the number of significant characters in the selected paintings from Red Grooms: The Blue and the Gray. They work in their small groups to analyze their particular painting. Each student chooses a character on which to focus, examining their attributes and relationships to the other characters in the scene. Through small group discussion, students create the action and dialog for a short scene that would follow what they see in the painting. For these activities, students use the Perform a Civil War Scene Worksheet to guide their character exploration, write about the action they decide to portray, and create dialog. Following this small group work, students will perform their short scenes, beginning with the tableau vivant of their picture, (imitating it silently in place), and then breathing life into what follows with action and dialog.


Perform Your Civil War Scene Worksheet (create character, action, dialog)