Character Scrapbook: responding to Wonder

The year 7 classes have been studying Wonder by R. J. Palacio. The author has provided the reader by giving us details not only about the main character August (Auggie) Pullman), but several other characters. The narrative is therefore mostly told to us by Auggie but we also see events from the differing points of view of Via. his sister, Justin, her boyfriend, Miranda, Via’s long-time friend, and several kids who are the same age as Auggie.

The information about the characters has been written down by the author in descriptive sentences, through events that directly involve characters, and by how the characters behave, think and say about each other and especially the main character. There are many ways for our students to show what they have identified about a character from the novel.

One interesting way for them to begin is by creating a digital scrapbook for the character/s of their choice and the tool, Character Scrapbook, allows you to do this in a way that is a lot of fun.

Character Scrapbook is produced by Scholastic and is a web resource that is a simple to use. It offers a reader’s response activity that students can use to analyse any character in a book or story.

The template allows them to include details and reflections about a character through text, but it also provides the students with an opportunity to create a visual representation of that character.

Character Scrapbook (Scholastic)

On the left-hand “page” they can choose from a selection of options (including some animal options) to build up an “identikit” image of their character.

On the right-hand side they list the character traits. There are 6 different “pages” that the students need to fill out to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the character. These include:

  1. Ten things I know about XX
  2. Ten words that describe XX.
  3. Ten facts about XX’s personality
  4. Ten details about XX’s personality
  5. Ten challenges XX faced in the story.
  6. Ten accomplishments XX achieved.

Once created they can save or print it as a type of scrapbook.

This tool offers is a simple way to engage students and also offers an opportunity to help them form a deeper understanding of a book’s character(s).

Character Scrapbook could be utilized with fiction or non-fiction text as an individual, small group and/or even whole class assignment.

There is a detailed teacher’s guide on the Scholastic site that has a detailed how-to as well as lesson extensions.

Some of the suggested Character Discussion Questions, designed to help students deepen their understanding of their characters, included the following:

  • How would this book be different without this character?
  • How did this character affect the events in this book?
  • How did this character affect the other characters?
  • How was this character shaped by the setting of the book?

International literacy – UNESCO infographic

We are lucky here in Australia. Our education system is far from perfect but sometimes we see something that puts things into perspective.  International Literacy Day 2013 was on Sunday, September 8th and this infographic was released recently by UNESCO. It reinforces just how precious education is and how many people around the world still don’t have a basic education as their given right. As our new government seeks to cut back foreign aid so many people in the world need our help.

It has been shown in research that literacy plays an important part in countries/people achieving a more sustainable future and that knowledge can help combat poverty and improve people’s livelihoods.  If we can assist people in developing their literacy level then we are helping them become more independent from us.

UNESCO Institute for statistics

International Literacy Data

by ElkanoData.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Useful links

Editted Handglider by m_edens, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  m_edens 

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Useful sites (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Useful sites (weekly)

  • Educational Software | Teaching with Comics | Bitstrips for Schools   This site offers software that would allow students to create their own comic strips. Not free
  • Here Be Dragons: An Introduction to Critical Thinking  “Here Be Dragons is a free 40 minute video introduction to critical thinking. It is suitable for general audiences and is licensed for free distribution and public display. Most people fully accept paranormal and pseudoscientific claims without critique as they are promoted by the mass media. Here Be Dragons offers a toolbox for recognizing and understanding the dangers of pseudoscience, and appreciation for the reality-based benefits offered by real science.”
  • Blio eReader An e-book reader supposed to launch in 2010. The software should be pc combatible. Offers features such as highlighting and annotating books, texts will be stored virtually so reader’s notations are available anywhere. Will also have read-aloud feature.
  • World eBook Fair  Offers a subscription approach to world e-book library. From their site:  “Our goal is to provide free public access for a month up to 2 Million eBooks. During the rest of the year you may continue to download your selection of about 750,000 PDF eBooks by joining the World Public Library. Annual membership is only $8.95 (US) per year.”
  • iPod Touch Project A great resource about how an Auckland school has trialled the introduction of iPod Touches in the classroom. 
  • Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Useful sites (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Google Lit Trips

google_lit_tripsAnother practical use for Google Earth has been found in these interesting lessons that utilize this application.  On the website named Google Lit Trips  you will find a list of lessons using various texts in which a virtual “trip” has been planned for use in describing events, settings, etc. of a story. 

2 interesting videos as an introduction to Google Lit Trips are presented by Kate Reavey (Peninsula College). Part 1

Part 2


This has the potential to be an excellent resource for teachers who are looking for ways to introduce literature in a different format into their classrooms.  The lessons seem good enough to be used with a class via a teacher’s computer that is hooked up to data projector or it could be used by students at individual computers.

site map
site map

I had a look at the Lit Trips for Elizabeth Honey’s book Remote ManHana’s suitcase by Karen Levine and they also have one for Macbeth. googleLitTrip-remotemangoogleLitTrip-remoteman2

  Looking at the above and, based on my knowledge of how reasonably user friendly Google tends to make the applications I have already used, it leads me to believe that creating your own lit trip would not prove to be too difficult a task.  There is a pdf “how-to” for creating your own lit trip ad it does not look to difficult. I have a small group of students working with me at the moment, reading e-books from DailyLit. One of the titles is Around the world in eighty days. I thought that this would make an interesting project for us to expand on the journey through the book whilst learning about creating something new with GoogleLitTrips. 

In general, this site seems to be an extremely valuable resource with downloadable materials complete with discussion questions and other class activities. I believe that this could be a great tool to help students visualize and learn about the places they encounter in various stories. 

To get started on your Lit Trip journey with characters from famous children’s novels you will have to :

  • Download Google Earth
  • Return to Google Lit Trips
  • Click on one of the grade level links at the top of the page
  • Find a Lit Trip that meets your interest 
  • Start exploring