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Authors know that juxtaposition can be a source of humor, conflict or other interesting story developments. Teachers know that working with familiar ideas can lay groundwork for new learning. Combine these two ideas and you can create a powerful writing lesson plan. No matter what age group you’re working with, this activity will provide you with any number of writing opportunities. You can easily adjust the details of the plan and adapt your expectations to your students’ writing stage and abilities. Younger students can work with characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales, while older students might enjoy using characters from popular literature or classic stories. This flexible plan can be used again and again since you can alter the details to keep it fresh and interesting.
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Prepare the Lesson
- Students will identify main characters from two different books or stories.
- Students will complete a character map or other analysis of each character.
- Students will use the character analysis information to predict how each character would respond to hypothetical situations not found in the original books.
- Students will write a story involving characters from at least two unrelated books interacting with each other.
- Optional: a selection of age-appropriate, familiar reading material
- Optional: a selection of favorite literature from earlier levels
- Optional: character map or other graphic organizer appropriate for character analysis
- List of hypothetical situations to gauge character responses (sample list)
- Paper and writing utensils for each student
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Get Them Writing!
- If desired, allow students time to review the literature selections you have provided.
- Have students choose two unrelated characters from unrelated stories.
- Instruct students about completing character analyses appropriate for their age level.Ideas to cover include character’s physical appearance, age, gender, clothing, physical traits, background, emotional, mental and social traits and so forth.If desired, show an example graphic organizer of your choice and fill one out together for a sample character.
- Using your group sample character, have the students tell how that character would respond to your hypothetical situations.
- Allow students time to conduct character analysis of the two characters they have chosen.
- Evaluate their analyses by having them tell how their characters would respond to some of the hypothetical situations from your list.
- Explain the assignment to the group:write a story that stars both of the characters chosen.Tell how the characters interact with one another.Include appropriate parameters for your group’s age and writing level, such as reminders to make the writing a certain length, use appropriate mechanics/sentence structure/paragraphs, develop aspects of plot, setting or characterization and so forth.
- Allow time to complete the writing assignment.
Read each student’s work and evaluate according to your usual standards for creative writing.
- Try this lesson with assigned characters to juxtapose.
- Include more than two characters in the story.
- Assign a setting or sequence of action to be included in the story.
- Put a different character into an existing story and write about how the story changes.