Office of Arts & Special Projects

Theater Units

American Voices


The American Voices (AV) project, a pilot program developed by the NYC Department of Education (NYCDOE) and funded by American Express, provides dynamic instructional units of study and resources that stimulate and support student learning about the social and cultural history of 20th-Century America through the lens of theater. The program goals and downloadable resources are available below.


The AV Program goals are to:

  • Create and disseminate six rigorous units of study addressing the NY State Standards for Social Studies as well as the NYCDOE Theater Blueprint. AV units illuminate six historical decades (1920s-60s) in conjunction with great American plays to be understood as artifacts of America's cultural heritage.
  • Provide NYC middle and high school students with opportunities to learn about the social and cultural context of American history as well as the historical implications of great American plays. Encourage students to think globally about historical concepts by showing them how art can reflect life and vice-versa.
  • Provide teachers at same school with professional development and opportunity to team-teach so they may appreciate their subject matter in a larger context. American Voices facilitators visit and observe teachers utilizing AV materials, providing constructive feedback.
  • Encourage teachers to become active teachers and thus engage students as active learners, utilizing theatrical techniques such as role playing, playwriting, songwriting, design, etc. to communicate understanding.
  • Supply schools with American Voices Kits containing resources for historical context and to teach the plays. Kits include DVDs and full scripts of select plays, CDs of period contemporary music and musicals as well as samples of historical source materials.

American Voices Lesson Plans and Assessments


1920s:

- Ma Rainey's Black Bottom: Lesson Plan | Assessments
- Inherit the Wind: Lesson Plan | Assessments


1930s:

- Of Mice and Men/Awake & Sing: Lesson Plan | Assessments


1940s:

- All My Sons: Lesson Plan | Assessments


1950s:

- Death of a Salesman/A Raisin in the Sun: Lesson Plan | Assessments


1960s:

- HAIR: Lesson Plan | Assessments



Final Reflection and Report


Section 1: Introduction
Intro Letter | Resources


Section 2: Sample Units
All My Sons: Lesson Plan | Assessment


Section 3: Project Evaluations
Facilitator | Student | Teacher


Download All Sections


Office of Arts & Special Projects