Every year my class has an annual tradition-we call it Character Court. We do a unit on fairy tales, reading different versions comparing and contrasting. One of the things we pay particular attention to are the ethical dilemmas--because they are full of them! Was it right for Little Red Riding Hood to talk to a stranger and tell him where she was going? Was it right that Goldilocks is basically guilty of breaking and entering? Should Rapunzel's stepmother had kept her in a tower away from the problems in the real world?
After we explore these concepts, I assign roles to the students in partners. So we will have a Baby Bear and Goldilocks, Jack and the Giant (from Jack and the Beanstalk). I try to vary the pairings so they are not all princesses with their princes-so Cinderella may debate her stepmother or stepsister instead. The students come to me in pairs and write a little debate. It was wrong that you...... but I wanted to ....... And in the end they come to some sort of a solution to their problem. Little Red says she will share her muffins with the Wolf if he tries to be a Big "Good" Wolf instead of a bad one, etc.
They also work together to paint a backdrop which is 2 tri-fold boards taped together. I really let them have creative vision over that board. Some of them came out very abstract or impressionist this year-but they are authentic! On the big day they come dressed in their costumes and recite their debates for their parents. A lot of work goes into it, but I think it's really a successful performance assessment.
Here are some examples from this year:
Gingerbread Girl-they took so much time painting the details of their kitchen.
Cinderella-this was the ballroom.
Goldilocks and the 3 Bears
Hansel and Gretel-they painted things like spiders to make the witch's house scary.
Jack and the Beanstalk
Little Red Riding Hood
Peter Pan (are those the cutest alligators you have ever seen!)
The Gingerbread Girl and the Old Man who made her
Goldilocks and Baby Bear