I begin this lesson with a very brief Character Type Pre-Test where I ask the students to write down the term that best describes the situation I describe aloud. I provide for them the following information on the board to select from:
We use the outcome as an informal pre-assessment for the activity. My school district uses the Continuous Classroom Improvement model, which includes pre-testing, goal setting, and post-assessment. I describe this process in more detail in my reflection.
I have the students trade and grade quickly as I announce the correct answers for each example. The students will then determine their score and set a goal for this concept.
Using the same pieces of text from the anticipatory set, I read through one at a time and explain my thinking about each. One such student response is in regard to the static character description. A great way I have heard a student explain their thinking for this is to compare it to the idea of static cling with their laundry. That static makes the clothes stick together and stay where they are. This helps them to connect that to a character because a static character stays the same throughout a story. I have introduced this concept in various ways in the past, but never really got the outcomes I wanted. I have found a good deal of success comes from modeling my thinking for the students prior to having them think on their own. They become more proficient and confident early on and then begin to stretch themselves beyond that, which is awesome. After the first example and my think-aloud, I begin to include the students in the conversation and have them share their thoughts and what stands out to them. I am able to celebrate their successes as well as redirect incorrect assertions in a positive manner. It has been a key component in my classroom to establish a safe environment, where kids feel comfortable with being wrong and don't fear judgement.
Once we have gone through each of the types of character we will be studying, I introduce the task, using the Character Type Project Powerpoint. It is a two-day task where students will work in the computer lab to create a powerpoint presentation that demonstrates and teaches one of the character types. I show the attached powerpoint that describes the task. Once I finish describing my expectations for the task, I use this powerpoint to give a brief overview/review of the program and how to use some of the functions. My school has a Computer Applications class that nearly all students take at some point, so most students have a basic understanding, at least, of how to use this program, but I provide a demonstration anyway to be safe.
The skill of being able to recognize and determine the various types of character in stories is an important one because it requires the reader to look at the many details present, small and grand alike. In looking for these aspects, the students are required to look at the characters in terms of realism and depth. As they find these elements, they begin to more deeply connect to the characters, and to the overall story in the long run.
I show the students the different designs, slide types, and where to find information on the tool bar. I also show the kids how to import sounds, images, and video. Finally, I am sure to show them how to include hyperlinks.
After reviewing the features of powerpoint, I announce the partner assignments for the project. The next step is to bring out our friend, the "Magic Bag" again in order to determine which concept each group will be creating their presentation about. In the bag are the previous terms we have discussed:
I try to include an even amount of each concept, so for my largest class of 36 students, I include 3 slips of paper for each concept in the bag. For smaller classes, I decrease the number of each evenly.
Once all pairs have selected a concept I give them the remaining time in class to begin developing an action plan. I suggest they come to a mutual understanding of their concept and a strong working definition. I also suggest they begin discussing stories or books that would have a great example of their concept. I find that, by getting them to commit to these two key components, they are likely to hit the ground running the next day with confidence.
The most common starting point is for each partnership to share out with one another everything they can think of in regard to their concept. They then talk about some examples they can think of right away for that concept. I move throughout the room and listen in on these chats, interjecting to challenge students to include examples that are not the ones that immediately came to them as well, but to think beyond the immediate so as to help stretch their peers' thinking.