Students will demonstrate their understanding of different character types by writing / performing a two minute original character monologue.
Merlin-type wizard costume or Mary Poppins-esque costume for teacher, large “carpet bag” / cardboard box / trunk, etc., aluminum foil, Seran wrap, plastic and paper bags, string, ribbon, masking tape, duct tape, newspaper, cardboard, wrapping paper, construction paper, toilet paper / paper towel rolls, scissors, glue, markers, writing utensils, index cards, chalkboard, chalk and eraser, character handout, character signs, DVD player, TV, “Cars” and “The Lion King” DVDs.
Teacher would be dressed as the wizard Merlin (from “The Sword and the Stone”) or Mary Poppins. Teacher must speak in a voice and behave as that character would while explaining the activity to the students. In the middle of the room would be a large “trunk” or “carpet bag” (really a box or bag decorated to look like one of those) and the students would have 15 minutes to put together a costume for a character they’ve created from the materials (aluminum foil, saran wrap, newspaper, etc.) in the box. They can work with other students, but they must all come up with their own individual character & costume.
Step 1 – Directions: Once the students are attired, tell them it’s time to show off their new ensemble. Have each student come and get an index card (to take notes on as they interview other students) and a writing utensil. They’ll have to pair up with another student and “introduce” themselves and get to know one another, only they’ll respond “in character” – a character that corresponds to the costume and props they created. They’ll have five minutes to come up with more details about their character (such as name, where they live/are from, what they do, etc.), as well as any questions they want to ask their “interviewee.”
Step 2 – Guided Practice: Teacher will demonstrate by choosing one student and asking a few sample questions, then have the student repeat the process on them. Interview Questions for the Students: Who are you? What is your name / occupation / greatest ambition? Where are you from? Who is your arch nemesis? What is your greatest strength / weakness? What is your favorite thing to do? Do you have a best friend?
Step 3 – Group Practice: Let them break loose. They’ll have 5 minutes to talk to the person to get to know them, and record at least five things they find out about each other on their index card. After 5 minutes, have them find another student and repeat the process
Mid-Lesson Assessment Point: Wander around the classroom, eavesdropping on the students conversations – maybe even ask a few questions of your own!
Step 4 – Discussion: Transition – announce time’s up after giving the students a one-minute warning to “wrap up.” Gather back together in a circle (now teacher is out of character) and ask the students about their experience. Go around to each student and have them introduce the “characters” they interviewed, sharing what they discovered about them. Other students who interviewed the same characters can chime in and add new and / or different information and share what they discovered about the people they “interviewed.” Questions to ask students: What was the most interesting thing you found out about the other “characters”? How did you feel about this experience? What was the most enjoyable part of this experience? What was the most difficult part? Were there any similarities between your characters and what were they? What was/were the biggest difference/differences?
Step 5 – Instruction / Discussion / Checking for Understanding: Have each student go to the board and write the most interesting thing they learned about another’s character. Have one student stay at the board and circle the overlapping / similar things after having the students pick them out. Ask the students what all the things listed on the board have in common, what they all share, what they add to the characters, if anything. Possible answers given by students: All are interesting facts, all are details about the character, make the character more interesting / real / relatable / likeable / unlikeable. Transition: Ask the students to think of a favorite character from a story. What is it about that character that makes them their favorite?
Step 6 – Instruction: Assign two students to distribute the character handout. Ask for volunteers to stand and read one of the definitions on the handout – have them read it “in character” as the character they created earlier. Question to ask students: Think about which category your favorite character falls under.
Step 7 – Instruction / Checking for Understanding: Hand out signs with character types that correspond to the previous handout given. Instruct the students to hold up the right sign when that character appears in the video clip – for the hero, hold up the “HERO” sign, etc. Show first video clip – end scene from “The Lion King” featuring all four on handout: Hero, Heroine, Villain, Sidekick, Henchmen. Show second video clip – final race scene from Pixar’s “Cars.” Assessment Point: Notice which signs the students hold up for the characters in the scenes to gage whether they grasp the concepts.
Question for students: What was the same about the characters in these clips? What was different? Possible answers: Both contained the characters from the handout, characters were same type but different because individual and unique.
Transition: “Think about what made the characters you ‘interviewed’ earlier interesting, and also keep in mind what made the characters in the clips engaging.”
Step 8 – Objective Activity / Final Assessment: Give students paper and writing utensil and allow them 15 minutes to create a new character – either a hero, heroine, villain, sidekick, or henchman – and write a two minute monologue for that character which they’ll then perform, telling the students that you’re going to look for (and want them to look for in other students’ performance) interesting details, unique personality, and background development for the characters.
Step 9 – Closure: Plot is important, but without engaging characters, even the best plot won’t keep an audience engaged. Although stories usually contain the same types of characters (heroes, heroines, villains, etc.), it is the details about the characters and their unique traits that make them interesting and great, and thus enhance the story. And just like these characters, we each have unique personalities, traits and backgrounds that we can use to positively contribute to the world around us.
Participation (30 pts), Character w/ costume (30 pts), Final assessment (40 pts)
· Give students paper and writing utensil and allow them 15 minutes to create a new character – either a hero, heroine, villain, sidekick, or henchman – and write a two minute monologue for that character which they’ll then perform, telling the students that you’re going to look for (and want them to look for in other students’ performance) interesting details, unique personality, and background development for the characters.