Assigning a Student-Generated
Character Web Diagram

We will be looking at a strategy that would be used in an English class, using the classic text The Iliad by Homer in our example. This strategy is having the students generate a diagram based off of information they learn in class or from the book.
When introducing a piece of literature with many characters to students, one thing that they struggle with is understanding the relationships of the different characters. This problem can be effectively addressed with proper organizational strategies. While the teacher has the option of simply organizing the information his or herself and presenting it to the class, it would be arguably more effective if the instructor allowed the students to generate their own form of organization themselves. This is because the students will be able to make their own connections and make their own sense of the characters, which would increase their likelihood of retaining the information.
For an assignment like this, the class must first read the piece of literature. After the students have read the text, in this case The Iliad, the teacher will introduce the project. The teacher will instruct the students to create a web diagram that portrays the characters’ relationships to each other. The students must choose major characters and draw lines from one to the other showing how they interact in the story, and what their major actions are in relation to each other. This is asking the students to organize the characters by their actions and relationships for a better understanding of how they are connected. In order to show the student what the teacher is looking for, it would be beneficial for the instructor to provide a brief example for the class to see.

This example might look like the following:

 [Helen]------used to be married to-------[Menelaus]

The teacher must decide on an appropriate amount of time to do this activity, either as homework or during class time. The teacher must also decide how much detail this organization should have. For instance, many characters are related in more than one way, so the teacher should decide if the students are required to draw more than one connection between the each pair of characters. With this example, the teacher might specify that students need to indicate which side of the war the characters are on.

The end product might look something like this:

Completed Web Example

As we can see from this example, the student has grouped the characters and labeled relationships between them, organizing them in a web. By doing this, the students will then be more likely to remember the key roles of the characters for future assessment.

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