A Character Study Through The Point of View of Literary Characters
Over the past few weeks, Susan Lukas’s Eight Grade English classes presented group projects based on characters from Karen Hesse’s novel, Witness, and Jason Reynolds’s book, For Everyone. Each group created a Character Bag, the outside of which was an artistic representation of the character’s physical self. The inside of the bag contained a variety of objects, written pieces, and other artistic work which represented the psychological and imaginative lives of the character.
This multi-disciplinary project required students to read the text closely for content, implied meaning, and figurative language. Analysis played a key role in the process, and determining how best to collaborate as a group added significantly to the challenge.
Each group used quotations from the story that demonstrated key qualities or experiences of their character. They wrote original monologues in the style of their character, and crafted an engaging, easy to follow presentation satisfying to an audience unfamiliar with the texts. The assignment was a blend of reading comprehension, artistic skills, public speaking, team-work, problem solving and so much more—a representation of Allen-Stevenson’s “many ways to be a boy” philosophy.
Susan Lukas remarked, “The challenges characters dealt with in these texts are challenges people continue to have to deal with today. It was satisfying to note that our students recognized this and discussed it in their presentations. Working collaboratively is never easy. I think every student learned a good deal about the process, what worked, and what to do differently next time.”
According to Oliver Schneider ’20, “This project was different from anything I’ve ever done. We had to make and use physical objects to represent what we inferred from the text, which went beyond written analysis.”
Allen-Stevenson staff members were privy to these presentations, and many complimented the boys on their presentation skills and impressive display of talents.