Assess with a Tableau

Still in theatre mode.

It was Jeff Wilhelm who first introduced me to the idea of students composing tableaux in order to make sense of a text.  In his thorough, clear way, Wilhelm takes both student and teacher through the steps for creating a tableau.  The Unquiet Librarian reminded me of this activity and also mentioned Assessment Live by Nancy Steineke.  This got me excited.   In addition, I could use this activity as an alternative assessment. I quickly ordered Steineke’s book which arrived in time because we still haven’t finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Haddon.

My students created the tableaux as a 2nd Draft Strategy (see my previous posts on Gallagher’s book).  Following Steineke’s guidelines,  we discussed what makes a good tableau which became our checklist (p.140).  The students had the opportunity to practice.  Their ‘2nd drafts’ were so much more expressive than their first ones.

One of the criteria for a compelling tableau is that students should gain a deeper insight into the text by paying attention to details through a different point of view.  This is exactly what happened.  One group chose the scene where Christopher discovers a box of letters his mother had written to him.  They visualized  the box.  However, after watching the tableau,  the students saw the box in context – in a wardrobe, on the floor, hidden among hanging clothes.


They were also able to feel the pain and anguish of Christopher and his Mother.


What creative assessments do you use?

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