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What is a Character Map and Why Use It?

Character mapping is an invaluable tool in both reading comprehension and writing. It involves the detailed analysis of characters in a story, providing insight into their personalities, motivations, relationships, and development. A character map is not just a list of names; it's a comprehensive tool that reveals the intricate weave of characters and their interrelations in a narrative. This technique enhances the reader's understanding and engagement with the story, making it especially beneficial for educators, writers, and avid readers alike.


Enhancing Comprehension with Maps

Catering to visual learners, students use character maps to significantly enhance a their reading comprehension, particularly in stories with complex character dynamics. Students use character maps help comprehension and analysis because they act as a visual aid, helping to keep track of various character sets, their traits, backgrounds, and how they relate to one another through beginning middle end. By breaking down these story elements, readers can better grasp the overarching themes and narrative arcs, as well as the specific needs of each character.


Visualizing Character Relationships with Maps

A multiple windows character map graphic organizer is a particularly effective in visualizing the relationships between characters. In narratives with a large cast or intricate relationships, these organizers can simplify understanding by providing a clear, visual representation of how characters interact. Whether it’s a family tree, a web of connections, or a simple diagram, these tools make the complexities of a narrative have more easy access.


Tracking Character Development with Maps

One of the key advantages of a story map is its ability to track a character's growth and evolution. Through these maps, readers can observe how characters change, develop, and respond to various events throughout the story. This tracking is particularly beneficial for analyzing protagonists and antagonists, offering a clearer understanding of their motivations, or specific needs, and transformations through the beginning middle and end of the narrative.


Different Types of Maps & Organizers

There are various formats and styles of maps, each suited to different types of narratives and purposes. Some maps are simple and straightforward, while others are more detailed and elaborate.


Simple Character Charts

Basic maps are often simple charts that list characters along with their primary traits, roles in the story, and relationships to other characters setting, and theme. Students use these charts for less complex narratives or as a starting point for deeper analysis.


Detailed Character Storyboards

More intricate maps, such as detailed storyboards, can include images, direct quotes, and extensive notes about each different character. These are often used for more complex stories or in-depth studies, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of each character’s role and development.


Creating an Effective Map: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating an effective story map requires thoughtful consideration of the narrative story elements, like characters setting, and theme.


Choosing the Right Character Organizer Format

The choice of map format graphic organizer should be based on the complexity of the story elements and the intended audience. Simple charts might suffice for straightforward stories, while complex narratives may require a more detailed character map graphic organizer.


Listing Main and Secondary Characters in Your Map

When constructing a story map, it's important to list both main and secondary characters, categorizing them based on their importance and roles in the story. This can help students in understanding the narrative structure and dynamics of special characters.


Documenting Character Interactions and Relationships

An effective story map should document not just individual characters but may also keep track of their interactions, relationships, conflicts, and alliances. This provides a holistic view of the narrative’s social and relational dynamics.


Updating Your Character Analysis Activity

As characters go to new places in the narrative and relationships form, it's crucial to update the story map. This continuous updating ensures that the map remains a relevant and accurate tool throughout the reading or writing process.


What is a Character Map Literature Examples

Various literary works provide an excellent story character map application. These character map examples showcase how to effectively use maps to analyze different types of narratives and character complexities.


Explore various examples from literature to enhance your understanding:



Tips for Teachers

These maps are an excellent tool for educators, aiding in teaching literature and writing.


Introducing Online Character Map Use to Students

Teachers can introduce online character maps character lists to students, explaining their benefits and demonstrating how they can be used to enhance reading comprehension and analytical skills by keeping track of characters like supporting characters, a main character, and character sets, as well as their various character traits.


Adapting Character Projects for Different Reading Levels

These maps can be adapted to cater to different age groups or reading levels, ensuring that they are accessible and beneficial for student use at all ages. This adaptability makes these maps a versatile tool in the educational toolkit.


Lesson Plan Options for Online Character Map Use

For many literary works, especially novels, character development is quintessential. Literary characters drive the action and conflict; they create a reason for a story to exist. Mapping characters can be as simple as asking students to fill in charts that track important aspects of characters, or as complex as noting character traits that categorize them as an archetype. Another great character analysis strategy is using three column notes within a storyboard: separate storyboards that detail a character's feelings, actions, and important dialogue in three different parts of the novel.



Our Recommended Lesson Plan

Overview of the Lesson

Grade Level: 3-12

Time: 10 Minutes for Introduction, Ongoing Throughout Reading

Because characters are crucial in almost every story and central to plot, it is helpful to have students identify characters and map them out as they refer back to the text. The most important aspect of a story map template is to assist students in keeping characters, traits, and motivations organized. When students misinterpret characters, they lose track of plot, and often make critical reading mistakes.


Objectives

Students will be able to read, take away, and list important attributes of specific characters, to understand their impact on plot. They will also be able to infer and predict what a character might do, based on his/her personality.


Standards

Although this lesson can be used for many grade levels, below are the Common Core State Standards for Grades 9-12. See your Common Core State Standards for the correct grade-appropriate strands.

  • ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3: Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
  • ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task
  • ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.5: Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest

Essential Character Questions

  1. How do characters drive a plot?
  2. Why is it important to know a character's traits and motivations?
  3. How can confusing characters be avoided?


Before Reading

Before reading, it is good to introduce your students to a list of characters. This is especially helpful for novels or plays with multiple groups of characters and plot twists. Give students the character worksheet you wish them to complete before reading. Providing a character map allows students to familiarize themselves with character names and be watching for them as they read.

During Reading

While reading, students should track the characters and fill in information about them. A great way to do this is to stop after each act or chapter, and ask them to fill in the new information they learned. If students run out of room on a printed worksheet, they can continue in their notebooks or on the back of the paper.

After Reading

After reading, have students compare the completed storyboards with a classmate, recording any information they may have missed. This makes for an excellent study guide, and you could have students complete a writing project based on character analysis!



Anticipated Student Preconceptions/Misconceptions

When filling out character motivations or attributes, students may need a refresher on how to analyze a character. Not all information about a character will be explicitly stated by the narrator/author; some information is learned through actions and dialogue. OSCAR is a helpful strategy for direct and indirect characterization.


Suggested Modifications and Adaptations

Little to No Adaptations

All students can benefit from a character graphic organizer, but not all will need one with information already completed for them. A great character analysis strategy for those students is the blank character map template. This encourages the students to use their critical thinking skills to determine independently which information they feel is relevant. The students may also choose their own character or draw one by hand on a printed storyboard. This process incorporates a multisensory approach without having to do extra planning. Of course if beneficial to the students, this adaptation can be made in any of the other levels as well.


Mild Adaptations

Some students will need a little bit more information and prompting when it comes to their character relationship map. This may include already having a character representation and specific prompts of what information they need to know about the character. The Maniac Magee storyboard is an excellent character mapping example. It already has all the main characters with specific prompts relevant for each one. The student is able to see the names of each one and see what they needed to find out about each of the specific characters. By being slightly more explicit, the students are not focusing on irrelevant information or losing focus on the main points. If valuable to the students or lesson, the teacher can easily remove the characters on the storyboard for the students to create their own.


Moderate Accommodations

There will frequently be at least one student who struggles with reading to the point where comprehension is difficult without some type of intervention or strategy. Storyboarding is an excellent tool to do this effectively without changing the format of the character relationship map template as a whole. These students typically benefit from more explicit instruction and in this case it may include examples of what should be included on their story map, also like the first cell on the Of Mice and Men story map. To take it one step further, the teacher can either choose to provide more of the characters’ information and allow the student to use the storyboard as a reference guide rather than a graphic organizer. Or, teachers can feel free to change the prompts to meet the students’ abilities.



Add a Presentation

Have students attach their storyboard to a paper requiring in-depth explanation of an element throughout the novel, or couple this assignment with a Google slides presentation or PDF easel activity view project. For example, ask students to print and display their PDF created maps, and facilitate a PDF easel activity, which allows students to present their PDF created maps to each other via a PDF easel activity view or "museum gallery" walk. See our article on how to present a storyboard, with the option to present via Google slides.


Customize Worksheets!

If you're looking for another step or an alternative assignment, you can create character printables via a word document file created to use in your class! These worksheets files created for you can be customized and printed out as a PDF created sheet or word document file for students to fill out with a pencil, or they can be completed in the Storyboard Creator like a PDF created digital worksheet. You can even create multiple versions for those students who might need a little extra help, and keep them on hand as a word document file for future use! Find plenty of PDF created templates and files created for you to work from or just start with a blank canvas. Get started with Storyboard That today and email address subscribe to free resources updates, customizable templates, and pre-made worksheets created for you and your students.


Blank Character Map Character Map Templates

Related Activities

Check out these mapping activities from our guides on Rules, Wonder, and The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.




How to Use Character Map Worksheets for Effective Character Analysis

1

Introduce Characters (Before Reading)

Provide students with a list of characters and the character map worksheet to familiarize themselves with the names and traits of the characters they will encounter in the literary work.

2

Track and Fill In Information (During Reading)

Instruct students to track the characters while reading and fill in the character map with important information about each character. Encourage them to update the map after each act or chapter.

3

Compare and Review (After Reading)

Have students compare their completed character maps with a classmate, noting any missed information. This serves as a study guide and can be used for a writing assignment based on character analysis.

4

Address Preconceptions/Misconceptions

Remind students how to analyze characters and that not all character information is explicitly stated. Teach the OSCAR strategy (Objective, Speech, Thoughts, Actions, Reactions) for analyzing character traits.

5

Step 5: Adaptations (Optional)

Consider adapting the worksheet based on student needs, such as providing blank templates for independent thinking or modifying prompts for different abilities.

6

Enhance Presentations and Customization (Optional)

Encourage students to use their completed character maps for presentations or attach them to papers requiring in-depth character analysis. Customize worksheets using the Storyboard Creator for added variety and personalization.

Frequently Asked Questions about Character Map: Lesson Plans and Templates

What is a character map?

A character map is a tool used to track and analyze the development of characters in a literary work. It can be a chart, worksheet, or storyboard that records important information about each character's traits, actions, and dialogue.

Why is character development important in literature?

Character development is essential to creating a compelling story. Characters drive the plot and conflict, and their motivations and actions create a reason for the story to exist. Understanding a character's traits and motivations is crucial to fully comprehend and analyze a literary work.

What are some examples of character map templates?

Character map templates can include charts, graphic organizers, and storyboards. Charts might include columns for character names, physical descriptions, personality traits, and important quotes. Graphic organizers might include bubbles or webs connected by lines representing character relationships. Storyboards might include a series of cells with images and captions depicting a character's actions, thoughts, and dialogue throughout a novel.

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