A drawing of a girl with her name Serena Bialkin at the top and characteristics written around her
Teaching Strategy

Stick Figure Quotes

Use this creative character-analysis activity to help students develop understanding of and empathy for a literary or historical figure.

Published:

At a Glance

Teaching Strategy

Language

English — US

Subject

  • English & Language Arts
  • History
  • Social Studies

Grade

6–12

Overview

About This Teaching Strategy

The Stick Figure Quotes strategy provides a creative outlet for students while engaging them in an intellectually rigorous activity of character analysis. Students collect and use evidence from a text, sorting passages or quotations from the text based on the degree of importance or relevance. This process of character analysis also fosters greater understanding and empathy as students identify how a character thinks and what is important to them. While this strategy is often used with literary characters, you could also have students create stick figures for a historical figure, using the figure’s own words as the quotes.

 

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Lesson Plans

Steps for Implementation

Ask students to identify brief passages or quotations in the text by or about a specific character. You can have students choose a character or you might assign them one. Tell students that the quotes they choose can include descriptions, dialogue, observations from other characters, etc.

Tell students to sort the quotes or passages they have collected by considering these factors:

  • Which is most central to your character's identity or representative of his or her core values?
  • Which describe ways in which the character influences the world around him or her?
  • Which are more from the head, and which are more from the heart?

Tell students that they will now use the quotes they’ve found to create a stick figure representation of their character.
In the example located at the end of this strategy, a student has illustrated Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird. This is how the student explains the thinking behind the placement of quotes:
His spine: “ . . . return the hug at long last bestowed upon him.”
At his core, Dill wants to be noticed and loved. We see this at multiple times during the book, including this hug from Aunt Rachel after escaping to Maycomb.

His right arm: “Dill got him the third day when he told Jem that folks in Meridian certainly weren’t as afraid as the folks in Maycomb.”
Student’s explanation: Dill manipulates the world through his storytelling. It is his stories that win over Jem and Scout from the beginning, and his storytelling which he uses to move others’ opinions.
His leg: “It ain’t right, somehow it ain’t right to do ’em that way . . . ”
His left leg is lifted a little, because his response to the trial gives me hope that he will “walk” in the direction of social progress.

Variations

You may want to consider creating stick figures at various points in the text to illustrate how a character changes. Ask students: Do this person’s core values change along the way, or do other aspects of his or her identity change?

Take a digital photograph of each stick figure and record the student describing why quotes are placed where they are.

Example

Using the Stick Figure strategy, a student has created a representation of Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird composed of quotes from the novel.

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