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Lesson Plan

Describe That Face: An Interactive Writing Game

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

 
Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Loraine Woodard

Loraine Woodard

Berkeley, California

Publisher

International Reading Association

 

Student Objectives

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • Write for an audience, as their written character descriptions will be used in a game with their classmates

  • Learn and use new vocabulary words to describe characters

  • Practice using similes and metaphors in their creative writing

  • Employ a structured writing process, including peer editing and rewriting, to create a descriptive paragraph they will be proud to share

  • Engage in a literacy community as they mingle with classmates and walk around the classroom to share their classmates' creative writing

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Session 1

1. Before class begins, write four headings on the board: Adjectives, Descriptive Phrases, Similes, and Metaphors, with room to write examples under each.

2. Ask students to picture a fictional character in a story they have read. Ask them how they know what the character looks like. Discuss how the author's description and our own imaginations contribute to our image of a character. Tell students that they will be studying how to write a creative character description, and will then use their descriptions to play a class game.

3. Distribute copies of the Sample Character Descriptions and read one of the examples aloud to the class. Ask students if they can visualize what the character looks like. Point out the four headings written on the board: Adjectives, Descriptive Phrases, Similes, and Metaphors. Read the description again and ask which words and phrases helped them form their image of the character. List students' responses under the appropriate headings, pointing out how figurative language enriches the image.

4. Read several additional character descriptions from the handout and add to the examples of figurative language under the appropriate headings on the board.

5. Briefly review what similes and metaphors are, using several examples from the descriptions. Refer to the Teacher's Reference Sheet—Metaphors and Similes for a full list of examples.

6. Pass out the Character Description Vocabulary list and go over the first 10 words or so. Have student volunteers try to define each word, and explain the words they are not sure of, giving examples of how each word could be used to describe a character.

7. Ask students to read the rest of the list and put question marks next to words if they are unsure of the meanings. Explain that they will use online dictionaries and thesauruses to find definitions and synonyms for the unfamiliar words. Explain that by using the new words they learn in their writing, they will have an opportunity to expand their vocabularies.

8. Take students to the computer lab and model how to find and identify definitions and synonyms in the online dictionaries. Tell them to access the bookmarked dictionaries and look up at least 10 unfamiliar words from the list. (ELL students might find it useful to use an appropriate online bilingual dictionary.) Explain that students should write only definitions or synonyms that are meaningful to them-if they don't understand a definition or synonym, it won't help them understand the original word. Encourage them to use more than one source to find a definition or synonym that makes sense to them. They can write multiple synonyms or definitions, whatever helps them understand the word.

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Session 2

1. Before class begins, write a dull character description on the board, something like: "The girl is pretty. She looks sad. She's wearing a green dress." Also, write the same four headings as in the previous session: Adjectives, Descriptive Phrases, Similes, and Metaphors.

2. Read the dull description to the class and ask students how they think this description could be improved. Have them take a few minutes to rewrite the description using adjectives, descriptive phrases, similes, and metaphors. Remind them to refer to the vocabulary list for interesting adjectives. Then have several volunteers read their improved versions aloud as you jot down their creative additions on the board under the four headings.

3. Have students choose a photo of a person to describe.
  • If you are using print resources, pass out a variety of old magazines and newspapers and tell students to choose and cut out any picture of a person (set a time limit of 10-15 minutes).

  • If you are using online resources, have students access the photo sites you have bookmarked and demonstrate how to navigate around the site. Have them select and print one of the photo portraits. Note: From the list of subjects on the New York Public Library Digital Gallery, have students choose images related to content area study (such as inventors or immigrants, or a school-related topic such as teachers).
4. Tell students to write a one-paragraph description of the person in the picture they selected. They can imagine and describe any aspects of the person's life, character, and background. Explain that their descriptions will be used in a class game in which students will try to match each picture with its description. Thus, they should make their descriptions neither too obvious nor too difficult. Remind them to use new words from the handout or the board, and to include adjectives, descriptive phrases and details, similes, and metaphors. If necessary, students can finish writing their paragraphs for homework.

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Session 3

Note: If students are not familiar with peer editing, have them watch the Peer Edit With Perfection! Tutorial before beginning this session.

1. Assign partners for peer editing (see Preparation). Have students sit with their partners and use the Peer-Editing Form to check each other's character descriptions and give each other feedback.

2. Give students time to revise their descriptions based on their partners' suggestions, neatly rewriting them as necessary.

3. Collect the finished descriptions and the pictures. Before the next session, look over the descriptions to make sure they are appropriate and correct any major errors. Mix up the pictures and descriptions and display them in random order on the classroom walls.

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Session 4

1. Give students copies of the Note-Taking Worksheet. With the worksheet supported by a book or clipboard, students should walk around the classroom and read the descriptions displayed on the wall. Tell students to note their favorite Adjectives, Descriptive Phrases, Metaphors, and Similes in the appropriate spaces on the worksheet, collecting at least five items in each category. They should also examine the pictures and start thinking about which description goes with which picture.

2. When students have completed their Note-Taking Worksheets, tell them to choose a picture and a corresponding description (not their own), take the pair off the wall, and sit down.

3. If the final pictures and descriptions left on the wall don't match, the final students should take any picture and description (a nonmatching pair).

4. Have each student share the picture and description taken from the wall with the rest of the class, and ask the class whether it is a match. (The person who wrote the description can resolve any uncertainty.) If the picture and description do not belong together, put both on a table where other incorrect pairs will also be placed. When all students have shared their pictures and descriptions, students who did not get correct pairs the first time around can now find a matching pair on the table and share it with the class.

5. Reflect on the lesson as a class, using the following questions to guide the discussion:
  • What did you learn from this lesson?

  • What activity helped you learn the most?

  • Did you find the matching game fun? Was it useful?

  • Is there anything you would do differently next time?
6. Pass out the Grading Checklist and have each student attach all associated assignments, then turn the packet in for a grade.

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EXTENSIONS

  • Challenge students to find vivid character descriptions as they read (in class or outside of school) and share them with the class.

  • Conduct a similar activity having students describe a place, an object, an animal, or a plant instead of a person.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

 

  • The Grading Checklist, with all associated assignments stapled to it, helps students to clearly understand how their work is evaluated and graded.

  • Monitor students as they work and encourage them to use their imaginations, expand their vocabularies, and use figurative language.

  • Ask students individually to tell you what new vocabulary words they have learned in this lesson.

 

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