In English we are looking at analyzing characters. A reader is required to infer in order to understand the charcters (and people in real life) using evidence from the character’s behaviour and the reader’s own schema (background experience).
Our inquiry has involved looking a photographs of people and making inferences about them. Since photos are static in time, we can’t use clues such as behavioiur and actions, language (what they say), thoughts (like in a narrative), or how they relate to others. That leaves very few clues to any inividual characteristics yet we makes inference just the same based on physical characteristics and perhaps some action that we can see. We decided that we use clues about group traits and individual traits to analyze and evaluate people and characters in texts.
Group Traits might include:
Race, sex, class, stereotypes (jock, goth, etc.), profession, age, etc.
Individual traits include:
Courageous, intelligent, kind, rational, proung, arrogant, loyal, etc.
We talked about how we infer these traits based on clues in the text and our schema. We make assumptions about people and characters based on these inferences. We read short passages about a variety of characters and watched some episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (the show has exaggerated characters). The students recorded their observations and inferences about the characters in their thinking books and then we had a class discussion about each of the characters. It’s pretty interesting that we all came to very similar conclusions based on the evidence and our background knowledge. Perhaps culture plays a role here?
Our next step was to look at an open answer / short answer type question about a character and analyze it using the Ontario Achiement Chart. That will be the topic of a future post.