2018 Young Arts Critics Program Lesson Plans


  1. Pre-Performance Visit
  2. Attend Logan Center Matinee Performance
  3. Post-Performance Visit
  4. Writing Assessment
  5. Closure & Reflection Visit


Students will:

  • view, analyze, and critique an artistic performance.
  • develop the skills involved in critiquing art performances.
  • craft blog posts that express their critical responses.

DAY 1: Pre-Performance Visit

Essential Question: How do we view an artistic performance in preparation to critique it?

Note: Teaching Artists are free to use the Chicago Dance Crash example provided, or to find a video of another live performance in any artistic discipline. You may use the Chicago Dance Crash reviews, find other reviews, or write your own reviews to share as models.

  1. Watch Chicago Dance Crash promotional video of And Now for the Dancing Pants!
    Original Hip Hop/Contemporary Works Inspired by the Children’s Poems of Shel Silverstein (1:45) 
    Poem in video: Where the Sidewalk Ends
  2. Think-pair-share: What are some elements of this performance that a reviewer might critique? (Examples: movement, voice, words, music, costumes, lighting) 
  3. In small groups, students will read one of three reviews
    1. Review: Chicago Dance Crash brings Shel Silverstein poems to life by Laura Molzahn
    2. Chicago Dance Crash: “And Now for the Dancing Pants!” Review- Physical Prowess
    3. Review: Poems You Can Dance To, by Jenn Morea
  4. Each group will write responses to the questions and share with the class:
    A. Identify the who/what/where/when of the performance.
    B. What is the theme of the performance?
    C. What does the reviewer like about the performance?
    D. How does the writer capture the reader’s attention in the opening paragraph?
  5. Distribute Performance Questionnaire and read aloud with students.

DAY 2: Post-Performance Visit

Essential Question: How do we write a critique of an artistic performance?

  1. Discuss the performance in preparation to write a critique:
    A. What was your overall impression of the performance? What was most memorable?
    B. What types of things related to this particular artistic performance might you critique? (Examples might include: voice, music, words/poetry, movement, pacing, narrative, characters, solo or ensemble, staging, and considering the difference it makes if a poem is memorized compared to being read from the page) [T.A.will make a list of these ideas on the board]
  1. Distribute and read Blog Post Guidelines
  2. Distribute Blog Post Rubric and read the criteria for a 5-star review in each of the four categories


  1. Classroom teachers will allow class-time or assign as homework for students to write a critique using notes from their Performance Questionnaires.
  2. Students will submit first drafts for response by Writing Assessors.  

DAY 3: Closure & Reflection Visit

Essential Question: What have we learned about critiquing art performances?

  1. Teaching Artist asks students the following questions and T.A. or classroom teacher documents responses:
    A. What have you learned about critiquing art performances?
    B. Did knowing that you were going to write a critique lead you to view the performance differently? If yes, how so?
    C. How and where might you use these critique and blog writing skills in the future?
  1. Teaching Artist reads aloud two 5-star reviews from the class (and, if possible, projects without author’s name). After sharing each review, T.A. asks class to share the qualities that makes this an effective and strong critique.
  2. Reflection Letter: Using the following prompts, students will write a letter addressed to the 5th graders at their school to explain what they will do and learn in the Young Arts Critics Program when they are in 6th grade:
    A. Share your experience with them.
    B. What should they be excited about that they will get to do?
    C. What’s one thing you hope will be different or improved for them next year?
    D. Is there any advice that you can give them that might have helped you in writing your critique?