Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Picture This: Zooming in on Character

Listen to people discuss a novel, a television show, a play or a movie, or even a person that they know, and the two subjects most deliberated are the Who and the What Happened: the Character and the Plot. In fact, in any fictional or real life scenario, these two elements of literature mirror the chicken and egg dilemma as far as which one came first.

For me, Character is always the most important. When I am writing my fiction, my main character must be born and her physical presence as well as her internal person must create mental pictures in my mind before I can even place her in any situations. Oh, I am well aware of the main conflict that will plague her, but I find it next to impossible to pen in the details on the Plot Pyramid before I have some clear ideas about how she will face her life. I can't be sure how she will act and react to the various hurdles she will face, which will create the structure of the Plot until I have some responses from her that I can build on. So, I need to understand the foundations of the Plot, too. Ah, the conundrum continues.

In this Tuesday is Elements of Literature Day post, though, I am honing in on Character, the element that holds Top Position in my heart and mind. Be it a fictional character or a person in my life, once I understand what makes this person tick-and this is often closely tied to his/her physical self- I can  pretty much predict, explain, deduce, evaluate, support, determine- (Bloom's Taxonomy thinking skills' verbs) how this person will act or react in any scenario.

My guess is that many of you feel the same way, as do your students. The need for them to practice their predicting, explaining, deducing, evaluate, supporting, and determining skills, though, can always use some practice. This trio of activities will empower students to fine-tune their reading comprehension, writing, and higher-level thinking skills.

In this 4-page FREE product, students will work on revealing the external (physical) and internal (personality, beliefs, motivations, intelligence, emotions, etc.)aspects of a character from the story under study. For the first one, Fleshing Out the Character, they will cite details in the story, write them on slips of paper and glue them to the blank head on the handout to form a body. For the second one, Tee-Shirts: They Represent, students will design a tee-shirt to wear on the teacher-designated day. Along with this, they will write a paragraph explaining their design choice.

By the way, the paragraph follows an adaptation of the Ten-Sentence Format that I discussed in my March 28th, Students Will Write Right With the Ten-Sentence Format post. I believe in its value in helping students develop their writing so much, that I incorporate it into lesson plans as often as I can.

Okay, back to the previously scheduled post...On the designated day, the students will wear their tee-shirts and adhere their Fleshing Out the Character quote portrayals to the bulletin board. A group picture of the students sporting their character tees will add to the bulletin board.

This activity appeals to all students on some level as it involves written work, analytic thinking and reasoning skills, and artistic creativity.

These activities are three of my favorite because they give students so much leeway to show their understanding of their assigned character. The artistic aspects hook the students who love to show their thoughts and ideas visually. Finding the quotes that portray the character and explaining their tee-shirt design choices appeal to those who have a way with words and love to express themselves in writing. Finally, the verbal students will have the chance to mingle and chat with their peers about their awesome shirts.

How do you like to help your students to develop the characters in their reading? I'd love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, you can Download this Free activity  from my TpT store:


Happy Teaching,

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