Role on the Wall
I love this strategy I learned years ago from the resource teacher at my school.
This is a great way to get students to think about perspective and the influences life puts on people. You can use this to develop characters when the students are writing, or when they are creating a drama. It also works very well for a reading strategy to get students to think about the characters as real people.
This was a lesson designed for Intermediate students by the resource teacher I worked with, but it could very easily be adapted for younger students. I started the lesson by giving a group of 5-6 students this picture.
To start with, we didn't discuss the picture at all, I just asked the students to recreate the picture in a tableau (Younger students will need some lessons on tableaus and maintain drama concentration for this to work) exactly as they saw it. I walked around and helped groups as needed. The groups practiced freezing and maintaining their concentration and then we had a gallery walk where each group remained frozen while the other students walked around and checked them out as if they were statues.
As a class we discussed what the picture could be about and most of the students understood that it was supposed to be Harriet Tubman leading a group of slaves to freedom. (I think a different picture would work better with younger students) We then talked about each person in the picture and what their role might be. As the students froze back into their tableaus I walked around and did a "tap in" tableau- I would tap a student on the shoulder, they would come to life and I would ask them a questions that they would answer in role. I asked things like, "What are you feeling?", "Where are you going?", "What are you thinking about?"
Don't worry!! We are getting to the role on the wall strategy!
I had the groups sit back down and displayed an outline of the picture we had used for the tableau. As a class we worked together as I first modelled the role on the wall strategy. Here is what we did together:
I highlighted the central, Harriet Tubman, figure and on the inside of the character we wrote down all the ideas that reflected who that character would be as a person, their characteristics, values, etc. According to www.bbc.co.uk a role on the wall diagram can include:
- how the character feels about him/herself
- how the character feels about other people
- what other people think about the character
- his/her likes and dislikes
- his/her history
- his/her dreams or regrets
This information can be very detailed, or just jottings of single words that describe your character.
On the outside we brainstormed all the things that affected the character, outside influences, societal pressures, etc. I think it turned out rather well. Here is the example from my 2nd class. It's always interesting to me that that same activity can produce different results from 2 classes...fun.
The next step was to give each group an outline of the picture but with a different character highlighted!
I had the groups pass around their pages so the other groups could add ideas to it as well, and to get a look the ideas others had brainstormed. Then I took all the ideas and put them together on a single chart to display in the class for the rest of February and Black History Month.
I can't wait to use this strategy again! The possibilities are endless.
Last year I used this strategy as a pre-reading strategy with my grade 4s. We drew the outline of a Grade 4 student and did some brainstorming. We discussed how this person would feel on the first day of school and wrote down all their feelings on the inside of the body outline (nervous because they are at a new school, excited to see their friends again, sad that summer was over, etc). On the outside of the character we wrote down all things that influence how students feel on the first day (new school, new grade, new teacher, friend moved away, etc). Once we had done this we read "First Day Jitters" by Julie Danneberg.
It was great! The students were really excited that story had a twist at the end and we added new ideas to our chart. We then discussed how we can choose how we handle new situations and our excitement about school, etc!
Thinking about how I might use this strategy in the future I came up with the following ideas:
- character education- reading and discussing picture books related to the month's focus trait
i.e. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein- have the children brainstorm how the tree felt and what was causing the tree to feel that way
- cause and effect in a novel
- point of view
What are your ideas?
Role on the Wall
We just finished a unit on tableaux in my Grade 4 classes and I will be posting about how I taught this fabulous drama concept to my students, along with ideas for integrating with Social Studies soon. Keep an eye out for it.