Friday, 3 March 2017

Litspiration 2: The Scorpion Project - Characterization


UP NEXT: Litspiration: The Scorpion Project + Empathy vs. Sympathy and Child Labour
What to look for when exploring author's choices related to character development.
Litspiration Challenge 2: Characterization
On Thursday, all teams posted their completed second litspiration challenge on their team blogs. Students were asked to explore a character in the first 200 pages of the novel, working to understand how the choices regarding character development made by the author help to drive the narrative. Click here for details on the challenge, and go to the main site to check out the team blogs (links on the right hand side of the website) and explore some of the challenges. All teams are looking for some readers, so please leave a supportive comment for them on any of their 5 posts so far!

Taking Risks...bye bye comfort zone!
We ask our students to take risks quite often, at least I do, and I know many of my colleagues here do, too. It is hard to step outside the comfort zone for many people, and a lot of adults resist change because of the risks involved: failure, loss of <insert many things here>, extra/new work, etc. This litspiration challenge presented an opportunity for me to take a risk, and I said yes, and it really paid off for me and the students!

When I presented this challenge, one of the options was to create an Instagram feed for a character. I assumed students would create "fake" Instagram posts for their characters, deciding what they would post and say based on the close reading students have been doing of the novel. The other options were to create a Twitter feed or a playlist. When one of the students (H. G.) excitedly said "We should create REAL Instagram accounts and follow each other," and then another student (S.G.) got this look of absolute joy on her face, I had a small internal (hopefully) panic attack. My initial reaction was "Nope. Can't take that risk." but the students were so excited by the prospect of interacting with each other that I pushed down my slight panic and said "Fantastic idea." Then I ran down to the principal's office to make sure he was okay with it, sent a warning email home to parents, and embarked on what turned out to be an engaging, entertaining, and educational experience! Not all groups chose to use Instagram, but the majority did in each class. The students supported me (probably without knowing it) all week with their enthusiasm and their clear engagement with the learning outcomes, and we did do some laughing along the way! Looking through their posts for which they chose the best Instagramming from the week to examine certain aspects of the character they chose, I see some deep thinking about author's choices and motivation supported by close reading and consideration of the text. Literary analysis!

I wanted to know how the students felt about this challenge, so I had them complete a quick survey. Here are the results:

responses from students who chose either a fake Twitter or created a character playlist