Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Character Study

This pin comes from a blog called Young Teacher Love.  The teacher, Kristine, documents the great things that she does in her grade 5 classroom.  What I liked about the blog, however, is that I can easily adapt her strategies to any level.  I can see using her Character Study activity in high school easily, and I think that it would be a great way for kids to get an indepth understanding of a complex character- great for preparing to write an essay for the Alberta diploma exams, for example.

For this lesson, kids are randomly given a character to follow throughout the study of a novel.  Whenever the audience learns something new about the character, students take note on a post it.  At the end of class, kids add their points to an anchor chart with all of the characters' names.  This is a great way to give kids a focused task or purpose for reading- they know that when that character pops up, they are on alert.  They then have to synthesize the information that they have gathered to figure out how to best share the information with their peers via the anchor chart.

I can see myself using this as a during reading activity when we will be writing a critical/analytic essay prompt based on a character.  I find that kids often go for the obvious character.  For example, if students are asked to write about a human element in Death of a Salesman, they tend to look at Willy even if Linda would be a strong subject.  This is a great way to have students explore the complexity of all supporting characters.  I also think that it is a great way to start conversations about characters.  If I were to put kids in a literature circle with people who had focused on other characters, I need only ask why did x happen/did he do that to get them talking.

Food for thought... how do you teach characterization?  What are your favourite activities to keep kids focused and purposeful while reading?

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