Super Hero Project: Part 1.
If your student brought home the "Characterization of Super You" worksheet as homework today, you probably thought, WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON?!!!!!
That's legit. After all, we're in 6th grade, and we don't have "time" for cutesy craft projects and art. But this project has some method behind the madness, and here it is:
After several days of reviewing characterization and studying a variety of texts (pictures, children's books, short passages, non-fiction articles...), we are applying those skills, doing some self-reflection, and honing some writing skills along the way.
It all started when we read the article, "What Exactly is a Hero?" by T.A. Barron. In the article, the author lays out 5 main traits that he thinks every "hero" has - and he argues that a hero is not a celebrity, but the unsung savior who dashes in to help when everyone else is running out. Using these 5 traits (courage, wisdom, strength, perseverance, and making good choices), we analyzed a second nonfiction article called "Hurricane Heroes" which discussed 3 average people who became heroes to the people they saved during and after three devastating hurricanes in 2004. We discovered that these heroes DID have all 5 of the traits Barron discussed, and we had the text support to prove it.
Using those traits as a starting point, we brainstormed some other traits we thought heroes had (kindness, compassion, honesty, generosity, helpfulness...), and also considered the opposite: if a hero has certain traits, then what types of traits do the villains have?
Kids were then off to do character studies on themselves - internal and external traits! - and then had to select a few of these traits to use to turn themselves into super heroes.
Now we've gone from analyzing characters in literature and non-fiction to creating characters - the foundation for a great narrative piece later on. and the groundwork for additional narrative writings as the year progresses.
Why is narrative writing important? Where do I begin?!
IF you want the lame answer, it's because it's one of the three types of writing your student will have to be successful at on the PARCC test this coming spring. If you want the REAL answer, it's because being able to create believable and relatable characters and the ability to explain situations and events in exciting and relevant ways is important for ALL types of writing, careers, and lives. No one wants to read something that is dry, boring, and bland, and if we want our students to become better writers - writers who can evoke emotions, elicit responses, and even create change in the world - then we need our students to write often and to maybe even ENJOY the act of writing! And if I can make them enjoy writing by having them write a goofy super hero piece about themselves (a goofy super hero piece with a lot of purpose and rationale behind it that they don't even have to SEE!), then I'm going to do it!
So hopefully you can enjoy this "goofy writing task" that "crazy Mrs. Yeagle" sent home this weekend; maybe it will give you some insight into your student and the pre-teen he/she is becoming, and hopefully this blog let you in on a little bit of the method behind my madness.
Happy weekend, everyone! (Look, 6th grade! It's a direct address!!! Two of them!!!)