16 May 2013

Creating Characters Using Receipts

We are lucky enough to have published author, Sarah Froggatt, as a parent of one of our learners. She came and shared her knowledge during Book Week and, this week, I invited her back to teach learners about characterisation.

Sarah sharing her expertise about characterisation
with Year 9
Sarah covered the basics and the essentials using lots of great examples from print and film, such as Roald Dahl's, The Hitchhiker, everyone's favourite detective, Conan-Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, and even Pixar's The Incredibles.

Once learners had learned about and discussed characterisation, I introduced the receipts! Having collected receipts from staff over the past month, I have a exciting selection of varied and wonderful clues about potential characters. The idea came while reading our current novel-study Stargirl, whose protagonist has a penchant for following people in malls and coming up with stories about them. She uses these 'stories' to decide on how to be 'kind' to the stranger in some way (this also inspired my Random Acts of Kindness Project). I offered learners a 'lucky dip' from the bag of receipts. Using the items on the receipt, leaners are using the checklist provided by Sarah, to create exciting, dynamic and interesting characters.

I was really surprised at how engaged they were by deciphering the items on the receipts and how quickly they began using them to infer characteristics such as age, race, gender, motivation etc. They said it was much easier to think up a character based on the receipts rather than from scratch, even though it was really challenging for some learners, whose receipts listed foreign exchange transactions or those with a only a simple vanilla latte...