"Motivation Machine" Characterization Activity

motivation machine cover.jpg
motivation machine cover.jpg

"Motivation Machine" Characterization Activity

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This listing is for a sample lesson sequence from The Big Book of Characterization (sold separately). The full book contains over 100 pages of lessons centered around the literary element characterization but also has students analyzing a bunch of different literary elements and techniques while targeting reading, writing, speaking, and listening. These are great activities to make Characterization the entire focus of your ELA curriculum! So, if you like what you see here, check out the listing for the ENTIRE BOOK!

"Motivation Machine"

To analyze the relationship between character motivation and plot

To develop criteria for analyzing character
To assess comprehension of character development across a text
To support analysis with textual evidence

Common Core Standards
R1-3, 6, 11/ W1-4, 10-11/ L1-3

In this set of activities, students will look at the relationship between character motivation and plot in order to observe how the protagonist’s desires create or drive the plot of the story. The “Motivation Machine” lead activity asks students to consider plot points that are organized according to character decisions. The questions on the “Motivation Machine” Activity follow the typical character motivation pattern as follows:

1. The character has a problem—wants something but cannot get it.
2. The character worsens the problem by making a mistake.
3. The character has to deal with the worsened problem and faces obstacles.
4. The character either solves the problem and gets what he/she wants or does not.

After students complete the “Motivation Machine” activity, they can then complete the three follow-up activities:

“Motivation Machine” Silent Swap
“Motivation Machine” Consequences Chart
“Motivation Machine” Analytical Paragraph

In the Silent Swap, students swap the “Motivation Machine” activity three times and answer reflection questions independently in order to compare/contrast other students’ character analysis with their own. In the “Motivation Machine” Consequences Chart, students consider the cause/ effect relationship of a character’s motivation. In the Analytical Paragraph, students synthesize their findings into a writing task that responds to the question: “How does the protagonist’s motivation affect the plot of the story?” This activity will enable students to grasp how the protagonist creates the action of a story according to what he/she wants.