Saturday, May 21, 2016

Open Mind Portraits

Open Mind Portraits are a super strategy for working on character identification.  They work for any novel (or biography) and kids always love them!  This year I used open mind portraits with the novel Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.  If you are not familiar with that book it is AMAZING for intermediate students.  This is the second year that my students have read it.  The plot follows the multiple points of view of several fifth grade students at Beecher Prep, including one young boy with a craniofacial abnormality so severe, he doesn't even describe himself.  My students love it, in fact one went to BookCon in New York City last year and brought me back this awesome poster signed by Palacio!  The image is created out of teeny tiny text from the book.  I love it!

In this strategy, students draw or trace an outline of character's head.  In some versions it is their profile and I might try that next year.  I asked my students to add minimal features to their portrait and most stuck to just eyes and hair.  A few got super creative and used the "objects" in their character's mind to create their facial features!

Next I asked students to use words and icons to fill their character's portrait.  Some used character traits, things the character loves or hates, other characters that are important to them, and so on.  I also let them add a background.  The results are always so creative and their knowledge of character really shines through.

Have you ever used open mind portraits or something similar?  Here are some other ways to use open mind portraits and a cool Prezi that I came across:

Two sided portraits 

Portraits with writing assignment 

Life the flap portraits 

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