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Character Analysis Using the Behaviour Over Time Graph

Over the past 5 weeks, the following questions have guided the Language and Literature inquiry of Grade 7 students of UNIS Hanoi:

  • How can we understand a character’s sense of identity?
  • What internal and external motivations drive characters?
  • How can we understand the dynamics between multiple characters in a text?
  • Why do characters change and how can we understand the causes and effects of character change?

Students have selected a realistic fiction novel from a curated list of books that explore the themes of identity and belonging. To collaboratively analyse the change a character undergoes students collaboratively created a Behaviour Over Time Graph (BoTG) by engaging in the following process:

  • Step 1: Identify the varying character traits/behaviours unique to the chosen character in the novel. Map along the y-axiz.
  • Step 2: Identify the various stages/time of the plot along the x-axis.
  • Step 3: Map the character’s change of traits/behaviour over the stages/time of the novel.
  • Step 4: Identify and comment on the causes/levers of change the character has undergone.
  • Step 5: Repeat the process as many times as necessary with additional characters. Identify the reasons for parallel change or cross-over changes. 

Students are encouraged to view this process as iterative. Most groups realised the need to modify the character traits/behaviours along the y-axis as a result of their collaboration and mapping of how the character changes over time. The BoTG enabled the students to make the iterative process of character analysis visible.

Students then identify a cause/lever of change to focus on and analyse in greater detail using an Iceberg Model. Students place the cause/lever at the top of the iceberg and underneath infer how the following layers caused this change to occur:

  • Change of thoughts
  • Change of motives
  • Change of beliefs.

The BoTG and the Iceberg of inference model provide students with the scaffolds to reflect on the cause and effect of character identity, motives and relationships. This reflection with the tangible tracking of character behaviour provides the provocation for meaningful collaboration.

Laura England

Laura England

Laura is a Language and Literature teacher and Hodder Ed MYP Projects author. Currently enjoying oodles of Pho, delicious and extra sweetened Vietnamese coffee, and delightful middle school moments in Hanoi.

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