Charting Characters for a More Complete Understanding of the Story
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Stories are often thought to contain just one main character that encounters a problem and somehow solves this problem. Character Perspective Charting is an instructional method designed to reflect the actual complexity of many stories and is a practical instructional alternative to story mapping. This strategy delineates the multiple points of view, goals, and intentions of different characters within the same story. By engaging in Character Perspective Charting, students can better understand, interpret, and appreciate the stories they read.
Character Perspective Chart: This printout allows students to chart a story from two characters’ points of view, offering a better understanding and appreciation of the story.
From Theory to Practice
- Character Perspective Charting is a technique for helping students to develop fuller and more appropriate conceptualizations of stories.
- Charting a story from two points of view allows a greater appreciation and understanding; thus allowing a deeper awareness of the connection of the dynamic interconnections of theme and structure.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
Materials and Technology
- “Character Perspective Charting: Helping children to develop a more complete conception of story” (IRA, 1997)
- Overhead projector, transparencies, and markers
- Trade book of your choice
|1.||Before beginning this lesson, read the article Character Perspective Charting: Helping children to develop a more complete conception of story to become familiar with the purpose and procedures for this strategy.
|2.||Choose a trade book that has at least two characters in conflict. (See Sample Booklist for Character Perspective Charting.)
|3.||Read the story you have chosen and familiarize yourself with the main characters, setting, theme, problem, outcome, and reaction. Complete a Character Perspective Chart, so that you may gain an understanding of the process and the different viewpoints within the story.
|4.||Photocopy the Character Perspective Chart for each student and make an overhead of the chart as well.|
- Use Character Perspective Charting to more fully comprehend a story
- Identify various story elements by completing a Character Perspective Chart
- Differentiate between and comprehend multiple character perspectives, goals, and intentions
- Use cognitive tools for critical reading and interpretation
Instruction & Activities
|1.||Read the story of your choice aloud to the class. If available, have students partner read or follow along using a class set.
|2.||Hold a class discussion about the story. Encourage debate among the students as they discuss the main theme of the story and the different points of view between the characters.
|3.||Tell students that there is not always just one correct interpretation of a story. Depending on each character's point of view and individual goals, different ideas about the story may emerge.
|4.||Distribute a copy of the Character Perspective Chart to each student and introduce the strategy. Tell students that they are going to look at the story from multiple perspectives in order to gain a full understanding of the story. In detail, go over each question on the chart and the definitions of the story elements (e.g., setting, theme, problem).
|5.||As a class, decide on the two main characters from the story that are in conflict, and write their names on the overhead Character Perspective Chart. Discuss each story element as you come to it and solicit students' suggestions for each part of the chart. Have students fill in their charts as you record the class responses on the overhead.
|6.||Explain how different goals and intentions lead to different actions. Discuss whether the characters accomplished their respective goals.
|7.||Discuss the theme. Did a different theme emerge from each character's perspective?
|8.||Engage in a class discussion of the Character Perspective Charting strategy. What do students think of the story now that they have looked at it from multiple angles? Do they prefer one perspective over another? Do they feel that they have a more thorough understanding of the story?
|9.||Reflect upon strategies used while charting character perspectives, such as remembering details, developing vocabulary, drawing inferences and conclusions, and comparing the goals and actions of characters.|
- Introduce a new story to the class, and divide students into two groups. Have each group complete the chart for only one character, then have the class come together to compare the two characters.
- Have students draw pictures illustrating two characters in conflict and the eventual solution.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Student participation in class discussions and group activities
- Completed Character Perspective Chart showing the student's understanding of the various story elements and ability to differentiate multiple character perspectives, goals, and intentions