This week we look at the last of three standards under “Key Ideas and Details” in the “Reading” section of the Common Core:
Standard 3: Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
For students to understand how a character develops over the course of a text and how his or her interactions impact plot and theme, they first need to know where to begin. A good place to start is to help them get into the mind of the character. The idea is to help students take a character and, to borrow a quote from Atticus Finch, “climb into his skin and walk around in it.” The internet offers many ways to facilitate this creatively with technology. Here are a few ideas and sites that might work for you and for your class:
Profile Page—Have students create a “Facebook” profile page for a character. If your school blocks social networking sites, try using a profile page creating tool like the one at Read Write Think or use a template from Microsoft and have students post it on your class blog or send it to you attached to an email. For more information about these ideas, check out my post from 4/26/11.
Trading Cards—Have students create character “trading cards” at ReadWriteThink.org. This one might sound too immature for high school students, but you could be surprised that they’ll enjoy it. The key is to challenge them to be as creative as possible in their design.
Newspaper Interview—Once your students have successfully delved into the minds of their characters, you can create more complex assignments having them analyze actions, words, and motives. Although this is a good opportunity for traditional essay writing, you might also consider having them write a newspaper feature article with an interview of their character. Writesite.org is a good place for introducing your students to journalism.
However you decide to use technology to get your students inside the heads of their characters, I’m sure websites and tools like these ones can enrich the experience and will elevate the quality of your outcomes.