Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Character Development + The Crucible

After weeks of practicing our research skills and gathering information on The Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism, my juniors have moved on to the world of The Crucible.  As we are reading the play, the students are summarizing the plot, tracking the characters, and thinking about their motivations.

After finishing ACT I, I wanted students to think about the characteristics of a character as well as the character's motivations. In discussions as we read, I've noticed how much my students are struggling with making inferences and applying what they know to a different situation.  I decided to do character stick figures with my students during a 45 minute period one day and then a symbolic representation of the character a second day with textual evidence about the character.

I modeled the activity using a main character - Rev. Parris.  We completed a graphic organizer (from Ed Helper.com) that has students give more literal answers like enemies, friends, a character description, and the character's actions.  We then flipped the graphic organizer over to the stick figure below- this organizer asks students to think about the internal workings of the character including their motivations.
From Holt : see here for pdf

After modeling with students, I had students work in pairs to create a stick figure for a main character from the play so far.  Students worked to also find two piece of textual evidence from Act I that supported their thinking about their character.

The next day, Ms. B and I reviewed symbolism and some common symbols with the students.  After reviewing symbols, I modeled a symbolic representation of Rev. Parris using the stick figure/ organizer from the previous day.  Students then used their own character's stick figures to help them create their own symbolic representations.  

Students who had been struggling with textual evidence the previous day were given multiple pieces of textual evidence and asked to choose which quote best supported their thinking in order to help them practice using textual evidence.  Student groups who had found textual evidence the previous day used what they had found.  

The students came up with some really creative stuff!  Below are my two period's symbolic posters:  Students presented their posters to the whole class when they were done and each group member was required to present something!  In my class,  NO ONE is allowed to be shy :) 

6th Period: 

Posters displayed in the room for students to refer to as we continue the play + to show off their awesome work to others who are in the room. 

Abigial - she is given a broken, black + red heart to symbolize her broken love for Proctor and how that has made her bitter and evil. 


Textual evidence for Proctor: states how he feels he is "some kind of a fraud" :) one of the best finds for textual evidence!

Proctor - has a pitch fork for being a farmer, yet is stabbing a sinner with it b/c he hates sinners (yet knows he is one)

Tituba: the flag of Barbados to show where she is from and wishes to go back. 


7th Period: 

This class needed more time to brainstorm and think (typical of this class) but they worked hard.  Many students wanted to pre-write before starting their posters (to the joy of my mentor teacher who spent so much of last year teaching them to pre-write!) They still struggled with inferences and symbolism more than my 6th period and we spend more time supporting that difference in this classroom.  

This poster project shows that no two classes are alike and you must be flexible in realizing that different classes sometimes need to work at different paces even if it is the same grade or class.  I love developing each class's pace and lessons for what that class needs.  It doesn't always happen because of time constraints or my sanity;  however, I believe it benefits students so much!      
7th Period's classroom display :) Ignore the mess of student stuff- these were taken while students we re at lunch

Abigail - these students wanted to be very literal at first and we worked very hard to come up with creative symbols-  my favorite that they came up with was the fact that she was caught doing bad things at night so they put a moon and stars to symbolize this. 

These students were very detailed artists :) They got very drawn up in the drawing and did not focus as closely on the symbolism.  They added the heart at the end as a symbol. 

This was one of the best presentations - it seems so simple on paper; however, their presentations showed the depth of their thinking - proctor carried the weight of his sins in the wheelbarrow !

Tituba- this group needed more supports and did a lot of brain storming.  My two favorites from this one is that they felt Tituba was smart b/c she figured out that they were cornering her during questioning (the students drew a brain to represent this) and the hangman game to represent that she admitted to being a witch because they were going to hang her.

I loved the hard work my student put in and the critical thinking that was occurring.  We did discover that our students need to work on group work skills so be following me because more will be coming on teaching students to work in groups as well as on group discussions!  

- Best, 
     K



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