This engaging assignment is a favourite with all my grades.
The nutshell: Students visual create a (symbolically filled) bedroom of one of their favourite characters.
The nitty-gritty: Students comb through the text, performing a close reading, and pull out details that they can symbolically represent in their chosen characters bedroom. After drawing the bedroom, and playing symbolic items within it, students then accompanying their illustration with an "Artist's Statement" explaining symbolic significance of their choices. In this writeup, the student must use direct and indirect quotations to back up their artistic choices.
For example, if the character, Marcus, loves flying, the student could put a World War II model plane hanging over his bed, a poster of the Wright Brother's plane on his wall, and the bedspread could depict Snoopy as the Red Barron. While none of these things were mentioned in the novel, and certainly the character's bedroom was never described in such detail, the student uses his/her knowledge of the character to build a bedroom in which the character *could* easily inhabit. Moreover, the student will locate five direct and indirect quotation to support their choices: "Marcus spent countless hours pouring over aviation books when he should have been studying. He could never see the point in learning about the Ancient China when all he could ever see himself doing when he grew up was flying for PanAm" (32-33).
This product contains:
1/ One-page handout and rubric for the assignment: Extreme Makeover: Bedroom Edition.
2/ Two-page student example, including both illustration and the accompanying artist's statement.
3/ A one-page example illustration which does not meet the criteria with an explanation as to why.
4/ A convenient rubric with which to mark this assignment.
Students typically love this assignment. Drawing skills are not required, but it provides students to show their understanding of a character in a more creative way. I allow students to collage the bedroom if they prefer, as the goal in more on the imbuing their illustration with significance and symbolic meaning, not on their artistic prowess. Without realizing it, students end up empathizing with their character, forge connections, and access background knowledge -- all skills that good readers do.
I usually use this project as a springboard activity for a character sketch/analysis essay where students can write about the same character or select another of their choosing.