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Walking the Walk

As I was conferring with my students today, I realized that many of their fictional characters were just them, but with different names. (They were choosing seed ideas today and developing their characters.) One boy in particular was stuck on recreating himself, so I sent him out of the room to do a character walk. I told him to go into the hallway and practice walking the way he wanted his character to walk. (I encouraged him to talk like his character too, but I think he was a bit apprehensive about this for fear that someone passing by might think he was talking to himself.) This seemed to be working for him, so I bellowed “Give me five,” got my students’ attention and asked them to join me for a character walk down the hallway (i.e., once they crossed the threshold of the classroom door into the hallway they had to become their character and walk the way they thought s/he would walk).

I noticed that some of my students were still having trouble getting into their characters’ shoes, so…
We went into a large empty room on our floor and I demonstrated, runway-style, how to walk from one end of the room to the other as your character. I put myself into my character’s persona before I walked (I told them about my main character during the minilesson), which made it easy for me to walk like her.

One-by-one, each student in my class crossed the floor, walking (silently) like his/her character. And wow! They did a fantastic job conveying their character’s revised personality based on the walk they created.

Tonight’s homework is to really flesh-out who their main character is. I think I should do it too so that I can really hone-in on who my main character is (thereby allowing me to use my own notebook entry tomorrow as a demonstration text).

Stacey Shubitz View All

I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.

I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

3 thoughts on “Walking the Walk Leave a comment

  1. As I was teaching a mini lesson on powerful verbs, I had a moment to make a connection to this lesson you did with your kids. I told my students about it, and they asked if they could try it, but instead of using it to get in touch with a character, they wanted to take verbs from their own writing pieces and visually demonstrate them to their classmates. One such word was “walk”. “How boring,” we all said, so the kids brainstormed more powerful verbs to take the place of walk and then visually demonstrated them as they came into the classroom. We had kids storming, sliding, sneaking, galloping, etc. through our doorway. The poor teacher next to us never knew what hit her! Thanks for a great teachable moment!

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