Thursday, 4 February 2016

Characterization - Different Points of View

As English teachers, we work with characterization all the time.  I often say that we call the course is in the Humanities because it is the study of what makes us human.  If that is the case, how could we not look at the evolution of human characters in literature?

When you have students look at characters again and again, it can be difficult to come up with an approach that feels fresh.  How about asking students to look at one character from several points of view?  Here is an easy prompt: Describe your character so that the reader will fall in love with him or her.  Then, describe the same character so that the reader will hate him or her.  This is a simple approach that will demonstrate all of the character traits that the student understands about the character.  A student who struggles with comprehension will be successful with this assignment at his or her own level.  They may choose traits that are more obvious, but they will be able to complete the task.  A student who has a deeper understanding of the text will be able to show that.  This student will be able to demonstrate sophistication and complexity through how they describe the character.  Rather than just describing things that the character has said or done, they may make indirect inferences, make connections to themselves or other texts, or they may consider what other characters say or think about this person.

Food for Thought... how do you teach characterization?

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