It’s the beginning of school. How do you get students to learn about each other? I use iPortraits! This activity uses character traits to build a portrait (selfie included!) of each student. Instead of just learning about their favorite ice cream flavor or food, have the students identify 3 character traits that would describe them. Then use the traits to write a description of himself for herself for the class. In this way, students get to know each other deeper and not just on a superficial level.
For the teacher, this is a great way to assess the general level of your class at the beginning of the year because with this activity students must:
- listen to directions
- show creativity
So instead of doing separate assessment activities, you can accomplish all this with one activity and get to know your students’ personalities and their general skill level in a fun and creative way!
Since it is the beginning of the year and students maybe a rusty when it come stop character traits, I start out with a traits puppet. I give each student a list of character traits that are sorted by positive traits, neutral traits and negative traits. I explain to students that as human beings we are a mix of all three. We can have lots of different character traits, but students are asked to pick only one from each column. I go through the list with them and we discuss the meaning of such words as: superstitious, adventurous, stingy, reliable, conceited, etc. I try to give examples through role playing or by identifying literature or movie characters that display those traits.
As we’re going through the list, they put a check mark next to any trait that would describe them. Then we narrow it down to one from each list. The three words are then put on a trait puppet. It’s essentially an outline of a person with three lines to write the traits. Then the student decorates it to look like himself or herself. I take a head shot picture of each student with my iPad. Then I use an app called TurboCollage to print out the pictures. Then each student trims their picture and glues on their puppet. I put all the puppets on a small bulletin board to show our class community.
Now, it’s time to move onto making the iPortraits. Using the same three character traits, students will use these words to write a description about themselves. I have an example I made using President Obama (you can always make one of yourself, too like I did!). I share the example with the class and we talk about how the description shows an example of the character trait: I’m lazy BECAUSE I never make my bed. That is the basic description they will use. But to challenge them even more, I also have them explain more: I’m lazy because I don’t make my bed. Every morning I get up and just leave the bed a mess. I’m just too lazy to even pull the covers up. I encourage the students to do their best. I also use this activity to gauge student writing and spelling.
Once the descriptions are written, students now draw a selfie on the back of the iPortrait. The template of the iPortrait is a tablet. On one side the tablet has lines for writing the character traits self description. On the back of the tablet is the selfie side. I give the students pointers for drawing the selfie: your selfie should show you from the shoulders up and be large enough to take up the space from side to side. Once the drawing is done, students color the tablet their favorite color. The last step is to trim the tablet. This is the way I assess student creativity, drawing, coloring and cutting at the beginning of the year.
Time to Play a Game!
After all the tablets are completed, I collect them to play a game: Guess the Classmate. To play the game I project the student’s description (without showing the name or any other identifying feature) which I read aloud. Then students then have to guess who it is based on the description. I also try to have students share how they are alike or different from this classmate. I just do a few a day during the week until all are shared.
Back to School Night
At Back to School Night, I have the iPortraits displayed on the desk for the parent to look at or sometimes I also display them above the desks hanging from a string. Sometimes it’s an eye-opener when parents see how their child thinks of himself or herself! But iPortraits can be done at any time of the year! Use them for Open House or for use with a specific piece of literature. Students could use it to describe a specific character in a story using that character’s traits. It’s a great way to do character analysis!
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