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Mapping a Character

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Lesson Overview

Students analyze a character in a book they've read independently. They present their analysis by creating a UMapper presentation.
  1. Each student uses a graphic organizer to analyze his or her selected character. The organizer prompts students to select details from the text and draw inferences about the character.
  2. Next, using the ideas generated in the graphic organizer, students draft their analysis into paragraphs.
  3. Students then complete peer revisions and polish their written drafts.
  4. Students locate a Creative Commons photo on Flickr that represents the character and save the image to their computers.
  5. Using UMapper, students upload the saved image and add place markers (similar to those in Google Maps) to annotate the photo with their written analysis.

Sample Student Projects

Erin analyzed Hassan, a character in The Kite Runner. To read her analysis, click on the place markers (tear drops) in the map.

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Lesson Objectives and SLE's


Reflection

Chunking the project into steps helped students, especially struggling students, manage the project. Using the graphic organizer and allowing students to discuss their ideas in small groups encouraged students to dig deeper into the text and yielded stronger character analyses. Having students draft their analysis and complete peer revisions before creating the UMapper presentation forced students to focus on the content first before tackling the creative part.

I did encounter one technical hurdle. Several of the student computers did not have JAVA installed on them, so students were unable to see the "browse" button at UMapper to upload their saved image. I solved this problem by logging in as an administrator. Before undertaking another similar project, I need to resolve this issue so that I can better manage class time.

I'm fairly satisfied with the project. But, in hindsight, I think the project might be too scripted. That is, I think I am actually doing too much of the thinking and planning for students. The project might be more meaningful to students if they have more responsibility for planning the format of the presentation. Rather than require students to use UMapper, I could allow students to choose a digital tool of their choice to present their analysis in a format of their choice. For example, students might use RockYou or PhotoStory to create a video. They could present their analysis on a wiki page or in a blog post. Giving students more responsibility in the design of the presentation could enhance their motivation and give them opportunities to plan, design, and problem-solve. Before tackling this project again, I need to create more project models to help students visualize different genres (video, slideshow, blog post, etc.) they might choose to present their analysis.

Though in this project I had students individually create a presentation, it might be interesting to have small literature circle groups--all reading a common text--create one presentation. Group members could analyze different characters, allowing opportunities for collaboration and individual responsibility.

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