this post will focus on creating character posters to share during a reading celebration. we have used this celebration method at the end of a unit of study that focuses on character, which is often a unit during which students plan and read at least one book with a partner.
when planning for a celebration using character posters, we think about the focus of our unit and what our expectations should be so that students can show their work toward these focuses. because we devote a day of reading workshop to creating the posters, we want to make sure that they are valuable, and so we have them double as a way to celebrate and share each reader’s work during the unit and a summative assessment for us of their work during the unit.
because the posters reflect our goals during the units of study, over the years, our character posters have had a few different focuses. below, we’ll explain a few different ways we’ve introduced the posters to our students and show a photo example.
eeg to show the main events and feelings for a character across a book:
after a unit that focused on inferring about character feelings, one option for a character poster for the celebration was to create an eeg that tracked the main events for a character across the book, and then to color-code the events to reveal the feelings in those main events.
we also asked our students to use feeling gradients that we have available in the room to use more sophisticated language for the character feelings. a gradient for happy would have happy at the top of a paint strip and then, on the different shades of color down the paint strip synonyms for happy that provide the students with more sophisticated vocabulary.
the example below shows a student’s eeg: the events that were positive for the student are above the middle line, the events that were negative are below the middle line, and the events that were neither positive nor negative – just important – are along the middle line. this student created a key (in the top corners of the poster) and used color to reveal the feelings of the events. on the eeg, the events are outlined in the color that this reader inferred the character was feeling in the events.
character sketch that reveals the main events and feelings for those events:
for students who enjoy the chance to be artistic and share how they envision the character looking, they might choose to draw the character and then show the main events that affected the character. just as the eeg above used color-coding to show how the character felt during the story’s main events, this student also used color and arrows to symbolize that the main events chosen were ones that affected the character, which is drawn in the middle of the poster:
partner poster to share lessons, messages, and themes from the text:
after a unit focusing on interpretation and identifying themes, we might ask partners to work together to create a poster that reflects the reading work they did together around this. they can think about themes from a text they read together, and then list the events in the story that support that as a theme.
in the partner poster below, the partners came up with two separate themes – in the bubbles on each side of the paper – and then listed some of the events that supported that theme below.
this partnership used the post-its that they wrote across a book together to create their poster. they first shared their most important post-its, then sorted them into categories to show which ones fit together (you can see there are stacks of post-its on the poster – the post-its that are stacked together fit together somehow, and each partner might have post-its in the pile. that is, they are synthesizing the work they did separately to find ways that their separate work fits together). they also identify a theme at the top of their poster that relates to some of the post-its that were synthesized.
worth noting is that we almost always provide some choice for our students when creating their posters. we won’t say everyone has to do an eeg or everyone has to do a character sketch, for example, but instead give them a choice between the two and have requirements for the posters so that they’re demonstrating their work in both, just in different ways. you can see this when comparing the character sketch vs. eeg above.
during our celebration, we might ask students to do a gallery walk to read classmates’ posters or have students share their posters in small groups. we tend not to share posters whole-class because we find that engagement drops and it takes a lot longer to do that than giving time for everyone to circulate and read them independently.
we make sure to take a photo of each poster and load it to a folder we have for each student on google drive so that we can use it as one of our assessments for the unit. it also helps inform our work for the next unit of study. the final partnership that used post-its on their poster, for example, was able to identify one theme and support it with evidence. the second grouping of post-its wasn’t tied to a theme, which was a focus during the unit, but instead a main event. this might signal to us that these students could use additional work during small groups and conferences with identifying multiple themes in a single text.