Monday, March 14, 2016

Character Development at Bowers Elementary

I am in the midst of a 3-Day Author Visit at a lovely school called Bowers Elementary.  Representatives from the school contacted me in the fall and asked if I could come and talk about character development.  At the time, I didn't have a character development program.  But, since that's a useful one to have on hand, I created it to debut at the school.

I talk about character analysis, voice, consistency, and character choices.  (Above) We are doing an exercise about Voice.  I've given the four student volunteers a paddle.  One side features Charlie Brown and the other side features Lucy.  Because Charlie Brown and Lucy are such different characters, the way they speak is also very different.  I post (and say) four different Peanuts quotes and the students have to decide - based on words alone, no context is given - if it's a Lucy line or Charlie Brown.

Whenever I try to teach students a lesson in a presentation, I always try to back it up with a game or a quiz.  For one thing, I want the students to participate in a presentation with me.  It's boring if it's just me going blah, blah, blah.  For another, it really helps cement the lesson.

After the presentation, I did workshops in the classroom.  For the Kindergartners, we focused on character analysis.  I wanted them to think about the difference between outside character traits and inside character traits.

I read LOST AND FOUND by Oliver Jeffers, then we talked about the character BOY.  For the inside part, I provided symbols they could use.  A lightbulb for smart.  A heart for caring.  A lion for brave.

For the second graders, we worked on character development and voice.  I had students create two characters with opposing character traits, e.g. a smart character and a dim character, or an energetic character and a lazy character.  Then we'd pull a scene suggestions from a bag (which adds a bit of fun to it) and write a scene thinking about the way a character would express themselves based on their character traits.  It was a tight 30 minutes for each session, but the kids did a great job.  (Below) I am acting out a student scene in which my character explodes.

Then we did some dignified classroom shots, but the silly faced ones are always more fun!

I have two more days at Bowers Elementary and I can't wait to go back.  The students were so kind, funny, and into it!  I had a blast.  And to top it off, I got an email when I got home saying that a teacher overheard two students talking about character traits as they walked to the bus.  Doesn't get much better than that!


Book Mama said...

This is great stuff! You're right--silly pictures are by far the best.

Julie_c said...

Thanks! :)