Costume Creation and Interpretation

Critical Viewing and Writing


LESSONS 1-4 | LESSONS 5-10 | LESSONS 11-12

Unit Summary

Inquiry Question: Does a formative assessment process that uses graphic organizers help students create a more clearly supported, detail-oriented written analysis of design elements, and help them improve their original costume designs? 

Based on the Arts Achieve assessment results we received from Metis, our students struggled to clearly interpret the design elements in a theater masterwork and communicate what they had seen in a written format. Incorporation of supporting detail in descriptions was a particular challenge on the assessment. The data informed the development of a design unit focused on costume analysis and creation. The following learning goals were identified:

Students will understand…

  • The role of costume as a communication tool in a final production.
  • The role of critique in the artistic learning process.
  • What “evidence” is provided in performance to support one’s artistic arguments.
  • How one can use this visual, audial, and visceral evidence in both verbal and written critiques.

Students will be able to…

  • Design costumes that communicate various aspects of a character’s reality on stage.
  • View a costume and make clear observations and interpretations.
  • Identify specific pieces in information communicated by costumes.
  • Incorporate specific evidence into their discussions and writings to support their opinions.
  • Provide verbal response to live and recorded works.
  • Transfer verbal responses to a written format.
  • Utilize graphic organizers to generate informative and interpretive critical writing.
  • Read, understand, and critique the critical writings of fellow classmates and professional theatrical writers. 

This unit focuses on describing and interpreting costume choices made by designers and using visual evidence to support students’ interpretations of the design. Students utilize graphic organizers and student-generated criteria lists to provide support for peer feedback and to improve both quality written critiques and original costume designs. The unit takes approximately eight 90-minute or sixteen 45-minute class sessions.

Use of Technology

Students worked individually and in small groups with iPads and the Explain Everything app. The organizers and criteria were uploaded to the shared iPads and documented the progression of student critical writing and costume designs. iPads also made production photos and videos available for students to use as exemplars. 


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LESSONS 1-4 | LESSONS 5-10 | LESSONS 11-12


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Unit Details


Arts Discipline: Theater
Grade: 9
Borough: Brooklyn