Teaching Character Traits with an Acrostic Poem

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How To Complete a Character Acrostic Poem

Most English teachers are continuously looking for alternatives to the traditional book report. We need to know that our students read the book and understood the book, but we don’t necessarily find it helpful for students to write a summary or answer a dozen questions. Enter the Acrostic Character Poem. This is an engaging way to get students to reread text and really get into the head of the character. They are also rather enjoyable and easy to grade… a huge plus!

  1. When assigning the novel, go ahead and tell your students that they will be concentrating on one major character and to make notes about that character as they read. I would suggest collecting their notes and using them as a daily grade to make sure your students complete this part.

  2. It is up to you whether to assign a character or allow students to choose one. You could also decide to assign one and have students choose one. In the past I have assigned the main character and then had students choose one of the supporting characters, which meant they had two poems to write.

  3. Have students write the name of their character vertically down the left side of their paper. Beside each letter, they should write a sentence or phrase about the character. The first word of the sentence or phrase should correspond with the letter of the name.

  4. **Important** For this assignment to be meaningful, the sentences and/or phrases should be based upon textual evidence. This means that anyone that reads the poem should be able to read the book and see exactly what happened in the novel that made the student include the chosen information in the poem.


Harry Potter

The first line might read:

(H)ero That Defeated Lord Voldemort and Saved His Fellow Wizards from Certain Disaster

Then students would continue until each letter of Harry’s name had a description beside it.

  1. To make grading easier, I recommend having your students include the chapter or page numbers on which they based each line of their poem.
  1. You may wish to provide different areas for students to concentrate on to help them with the writing of their poems.

Some examples:

Physical Characteristics

Relationships With Other Characters

Events That Occurred That Are Central To The Character’s Development

Familial Relationships

Emotional Characteristics

  1. After reading the poem, the reader should have an excellent understanding of the character.

  2. Use a rubric to grade. You might want to look for textual evidence, a clear

description of the character, and correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

  1. **Optional** You may choose to have your students illustrate their poems. This

may depend on the age of your students and the amount of time you have to

devote to this project.