- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
- Empathize, for the purpose of understanding, the character.
- Understand the difference between direct characterization and indirect characterization.
- Understand the difference between a static and dynamic character.
- Understand the various complications with which a character must deal.
- Understand the difference between internal conflict and external conflict.
- Understand the role of motivation within a character.
- Understand how poetry elements are an important aspect of character analysis.
Materials for the Teacher:
Literary Elements with Short Stories by Tara McCarthy (Available
in the Teacher Store)
- a short story or novel to use as an example
- plain white T-shirts, one for each student (cheaper if you buy them
in a package from the men or boy's department)
- markers, puffy paints
- iron transfer printer paper (Use if you have access to technology
in the classroom, so students can create their character analysis on
the computer. Be sure to assist students with the iron-on transfer.)
- overhead projector
- transparency paper
- activity sheets
- Literary Elements and Definitions (PDF)
- Character Analysis Graphic Organizer (PDF), helps students analyze a character.
- Character Analysis T-Shirt Project Instructions (PDF)
- transparency copies of pages 12-17 from La Bamba by
Gary Soto. This is taken from "Teaching Literary Elements with
Short Stories" by Tara McCarthy (See
Books for Teaching About Character)
Materials for Students:
- a white plain t-shirt
- activity handouts: provided by teacher
- additional handouts from various literature or teaching resources:
provided by teacher
- markers: regular, puffy paint, etc.
- computer, Internet or library access, if necessary
Set Up and Prepare
- Create a Character T-shirt before teaching the lesson to get an understanding
of the time requirement based on the resources available and to have
an example of the final product.
- Make enough copies of all handouts before introducing the lessons.
Be sure to have any additional materials available.
Hand out all copies of the various worksheets before beginning each part of the lesson.
Step 1: Introduce the literary elements and definitions in the worksheet Understanding Character Have students read through each of the elements and definitions aloud.
Step 2: Using the story, La Bamba by Gary Soto, identify examples of the literary elements on an overhead. Conduct a class discussion and allow students to ask questions if necessary.
Step 3: Assess understanding of the various elements by quizzing students orally.
Step 4: Using the designated piece of literature as a resource (class story, novel, etc.) and the Character Analysis Chart, have students begin analyzing a character of their choosing. This may be facilitated in groups or as an independent activity.
Step 5: Introduce the Character T-shirt using your teacher sample. Show how an understanding of literary elements dealing with character was needed in order to create it. Hand out the Character T-shirt Instructions and go over with the class.
Step 6: Allow students to begin creating their Character T-shirts. This project may be completed in class or as an at-home assignment.
By extending the lesson, I integrate language arts and reading standards with the multiple intelligences. Any standards aligned rubric or project rubric can work for the assessment of these activities.
Here are some examples of what students could do:
- Have a Character T-shirt Day, where students come to school dressed in their T-shirt and promote the story/novel from which the character comes.
- Make up flyers to promote daily reading.
- With permission from the teacher, act out a scene during lunch or class with students from the same class.
- During break or lunch time, orally read a passage from the story/novel.
- Post a picture of the Character T-shirt on the Class Homepage.
- Create a poem in the first person narrative about the character and read it in front of the class.
- Hang the shirts up in class as examples of the various ways to do character analysis.
- Hold a class discussion about the different characters that were chosen by students. Discuss their traits and qualities, then compare and contrast their similarities and differences. Allow students to support their opinions of the characters by conducting a debate. Challenge students to support their opinions with facts from the stories.
- Did students respond to the way I introduced the literary elements?
- Did using Soto's La Bamba, as an exemplar help students understand how to find various literary elements?
- Did I provide them with the ability to get started right away?
- Did students develop an overall understanding of character analysis? Was their understanding evident in their Character Analysis worksheet?
- Did students remain on task during various activities?
- Did students create Character T-Shirts that represented an accurate understanding of character analysis? Were students able to articulate their analysis of character in the extended lesson?
- Should I change anything in the way I model or teach this lesson?
Using the Character Analysis T-Shirt Rubric (PDF), assess students based on their ability to analyze the chosen character. I also
assess students' effort and class participation throughout the unit.