Lesson: In-Character Presentation

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Lesson Objective

Students make a speech in front of the class introducing their character and arguing for their innocence in the Westing murder

Lesson Plan

 Lesson Name: In-Character Presentation            Course: High School Language Arts by Anke al-Bataineh

Objective:   Students make a speech in front of the class introducing their character and arguing for their innocence in the Westing murder

Essential Questions:            (write on board)
Who is your character, really?

What evidence is there that they are guilty or innocent?

How can you convince the class that you are innocent?

Can you convince the class that someone else in guilty?

Character Tracker

Presentation Rubric

Model Presentation (Turtle Wexler, or make your own)

Anticipatory Set:         (5 min)
Ask students to think silently: if you could accuse anyone of Westing’s murder, who would you accuse? Why? How could you get other people to believe you?

Input:         (15 minutes)
With this thought (silently) in mind, tell students that their final project will require them to convince the class that they are innocent and someone else is guilty. Having considered their abilities and how far along they are in their Character Trackers, lay out for them the timeline and date when presentations begin. This may be anywhere from 2 to 5 class periods. Be clear that they must be ready on the day presentations start. (I draw randomly from a list of names to determine order, but require that they be ready on the first day to avoid students working instead of listening.)


Go over the instruction sheet with them slowly, repeating each instruction and checking for understanding at each point.


I ask students to choose the 2-3 strongest pieces of evidence for their arguments and explain them clearly,  rather than making a long list of unclear statements.  For weaker students, I might ask them to address only one of the crimes and their innocence and accusations. For stronger students, I may ask them to address more than one of the crimes in the book and present evidence about this, as they will otherwise finish preparing long before the weaker students.


Set aside time for students to draw and color a portrait of their character. Insist that they refer to the clues provided in the book for their visualization.

Present the guidelines for being a good speaker and being a good audience. Be clear about consequences for poor audience behavior. I hold the following expectations:

Good speakers:

·      Stand straight and still, but not too stiff

·      Look at their audience a few times each minute

·      Pause between ideas so the audience can keep up

·      Talk loud enough that the furthest-away person can hear clearly

Good audience members:

·      Look at the speaker

·      Are completely silent

·      Do not do anything else during the speech

·      Ask questions

·       Clap at the end (for EVERYONE)

Guided Practice:         (20 min)
Once the guidelines are clearly established for speaking and listening, give an example presentation. Wear a funny costume and present in character. Attached is the one I give as Turtle Wexler.

Independent Work:         (15 min)
Give students this time to begin writing their own speeches.

Conclusion/Assessment:         (5 min)
After having seen an example, what part of being a good speaker is going to be the hardest for you? Think of 3 strategies you can use before and during your speech to do a good job at this.

Vocab to Watch Out For:

“in character”

Lesson Reflection:

What went well?

What would you change?

What needs explanation?

Students are able to follow the clear requirements very precisely. They enjoy accusing others!

If your group is mean to one another, or has been taking the assignment of characters too personally, you may choose to eliminate the component of accusing another.

When talking about a “good speaker”, I do an impression of the wrong way to do each thing (talking too quietly, shouting, fidgeting, etc.) This gets laughs and is memorable for students. If your group is defiant, mean to each other, or overly disruptive, you may choose a “no clapping whatsoever” policy to keep the peace.

Lesson Resources

westing game presentation   Project
turtle wexler   Exemplar
finalcharacterpresentation   Lesson Plan


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