I adapted Kathy Short's Cultural X-Ray's into Character X-Rays with my class. Quite simply a character x-ray really looks at the internal and external characteristics of a character or person from any text.
I will usually project a picture of the character onto my whiteboard and then trace, but a simple outline always works if you do not have one.
As a class , in groups, or individually students create a character x-ray using the outline of a body shape. The metaphor of an x-ray highlights the need to understand what is on the outside as well as the inside of each of person’s being. On the outside of this shape, students create labels to describe the behaviors, appearance, and other aspects of their identities that others can observe or easily determine (e.g. age, family, gender, language, religion, family composition, places they have lived). On the inside of the x-ray, have students place the values and beliefs that they hold and that may not be immediately evident to others around them. These engagements helped students realize that their experiences within the world, their families and communities shape how they think and act.
The three questions students ask themselves in this process are:
–Who are they?
–What is important to them?
–What do they look like?
We use character x-rays to examine ourselves, others, and just about any character from the book. Once students get the hang of them, they prove as powerful tools for analyzing a text and for students to make connections on a deeper level with characters. Often after we analyze a character, they will return to their writer's notebook and reflect on their thoughts and relation to a particular character. Completing a character x-ray really allows me to see grasp how students related to a book, analyze a text, and provides for a glimpse of their deeper understanding into a text.
The pictures are examples are from my 2nd grade class. They are really into metaphors and like placing characteristics near the body part that relates to and giving me a reason as to why. Which warms my heart about a thousand times over.
Marcel Marceau using the book Monsieur Marceau: Actor Without Words
We are currently reading Solder Bear as a read aloud (pictures and activities to come) and read this book during our month of Holidays around the world. We connected this book with WWII (and Soldier Bear), telling a story through words, France, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help others. I also showed my kids some clips from youtube of Marcel in action and they absolutely loved it.
Nelson Mandela We studied Nelson Mandela the day after his death. My students really loved Mandela and now relate him to other major characters and leaders in our world. I really give credit to the character x-ray for this because it allows them to think deeply and make authentic connections.
for more information about cultural x-rays check and a TON of other great strategies and literature check out www.wowlit.org