Some ideas from Jeff Wilhelm's book Action Strategies for Deepening Comprehension- Scholastic


Tableaux connects with visual and kinesthetic intelligences. It generally takes the form of a frozen scene or pose that captures a physical, psychological or emotional relationship. Sometimes several scenes can be acted out to show the theme or continuing main ideas. This technique can be adapted to include some movement, speaking and other features or to look like a slide show. Tableaux help students visualize, explore narrative, ideas from content area non-fiction, build relationships, represent vocabulary, create mental models of complex concepts and procedures, or visually translate a host of themes and ideas.

Main Parts of Tableaux:

  • Identify the part of a concept or text you wish to depict visually and share ideas about the parts that are most visual.

  • Rethink the central concepts of this concept making sure you have the main ideas for understanding the whole text or concept.

  • Write these down on a piece of loose leaf (about six to ten) and then assign actions to each main idea, so that visually the audience will know what the actions represent.

  • Work together to make sure the enactment will depict the ideas so that the audience understands the narrative or concept. Each person decide what they are comfortable performing and choose one or several parts.

  • Remember there is no talking, only the person speaking very low to count so everyone is on time.

  • You  must use your body language to represent words.

  • Practice and refine the performance. One person should count out the time so you are all coordinated, synchronized like swimmers performing one move after the other.

  • Practice several times to get the hang of it.

  • The teacher may tap one of you on the shoulder and unfreeze you so you can explain what you are acting out. You must be able to explain who you are, what you are doing and why you're doing it.