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Become a Character: Adjectives, Character Traits, and Perspective
|Grades||9 – 12|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Two 45-minute sessions|
Students use an online chart to match the character traits of a character in a book they are reading with specific actions the character takes. Students then work in pairs to "become" one of the major characters in a book and describe themselves and other characters, using Internet reference tools to compile lists of accurate, powerful adjectives supported with details from the reading. Students read each other's lists of adjectives and try to identify who is being described.
The lesson uses The Scarlet Letter as an example, but this activity is effective with any work of literature in which characterization is important. A list of alternate characters and novels that will work with this lesson are included.
Character Traits Interactive Chart: This online tool provides student with a chart for recording a selected character's actions and character traits.
Character analysis represents one of the most common assignments given in language arts classes. A successful character analysis demands that students infer abstract traits and values from literal details contained in a text. This lesson plan not only asks students to infer those traits but also to show that knowledge by applying the traits as they create their own list from the character's perspective. By adopting the traits of a main character, students must "show" their understanding of that character's main features, rather than simply "telling" with a list of traits.
Additionally, the lesson plan provides an opportunity for students to explore the supporting reasons for the traits they have chosen, especially in the context of commonalities among the lists compiled by the class. Even when students can confidently formulate appropriate traits, they often find it hard to connect specific details to their inferences. This process of creating lists and then discussing them as a class gives students practice in connecting detail to inference.
This lesson plan was adapted from: Forsyth, John. 1995. "Through Characters' Eyes," Teaching Literature in High School: The Novel. pp. 16-17. Urbana, IL: NCTE.