‘Twas the week before break and all through the school, Not a creature was stirring… Ha! You know I’m just kidding ‘cause you’re no fool.
The creatures were definitely stirring with excitement for a week away from school and a visit from Santa. For me, the creatures are seventh graders, and if you know anything about middle schoolers… well, let’s just say I needed an activity that was educational and engaging. I was over-the-moon excited when I found Danielle’s Body Biography project on Teachers Pay Teachers. We were studying characterization while reading The Outsiders; the students always enjoy this novel. However, they are not always a fan of writing. Since the break was coming up fast, I didn’t want 75 essays to grade either. This was perfect.
Step 1: Assigning Characters
To get started, we used wheelofnames.com to randomly assign students to characters. I pulled up two wheels to airplay; one with the students’ names and the other with the characters from the novel; for some reason, the kids love this wheel.
Step 2: Completing Graphic Organizers
Next, they got into groups by character and each student was given their own graphic organizer. As we went over the requirements, the kiddos weren’t one hundred percent sure on the meaning of some of the boxes, for example, the “vices” box. Totally not a problem! The project comes with an explanation sheet. I posted it on Schoology along with a finished example of Odysseus that Danielle posted on Instagram. By posting both of these on Schoology, the students had access to them in ELA, in a study hall, or at home, and it made them more self-sufficient and able to talk about characterization on a deeper level.
We worked for a total of four 42-minute periods. The students had to each complete a character graphic organizer, but they could work with someone in their group if they needed help. I explained they didn’t all have to have the same information as long as they could support why they chose what they did using evidence from the text.
Step 3: Creating Characterization Posters
Finally, as a collaborative group, the students had to share their choices and decide which information they wanted to include on the group characterization poster. The students really got into this! I don’t think they even realized they were hitting the four Cs of 21st century learning: collaborating, communicating, critical thinking, and creating.
In the end, I assessed the projects a bit differently than suggested. Each box on the individual character graphic organizer was worth two points for a total of 24 points. I used the graphic organizer as an assessment which is weighted more than classwork. The large body biography poster was a group grade and was worth ten points. (Sometimes a group grade is a struggle to justify to the parental units.)
The next time, I think I’ll have the students present their posters to the class as well because they can always use practice with public speaking skills. My kiddos worked so hard on their body biographies, finding textual evidence, and creating the coolest. posters. ever. (not a biased opinion at all, I swear).
Are you looking for more for The Outsiders for your classroom? Grab it here *Study All Knight affiliate links*
Guest Blogger: Kresson Ramanos
I am currently in my 21st year of teaching. I started my career teaching high school special education and have finally found my niche teaching 7th grade ELA and loving it! I love my husband, our daughter, and our kittens, along with reading, fishing, eating and relaxing on the beach. I’m a life-long learner all the while enjoying all things fitness, food, and fun
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