Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Student Character Traits

With the start of the new year come new activities.
Since the only thing I knew about my students were their cumm folders and a few days of observations, I decided to do a project that allowed us to get to know each other better.

To tie this into our reading workshop, we spent one morning discussing character traits in conjunction with the reading strategies of inference and visualizing. We read my favorite book, Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polocco and discussed the different character traits we noticed.

Later that afternoon we worked on our Community Building and had to identify some of the character traits we noticed about our (randomly selected) partner. There were a lot of "he's nice" or "she's funny" comments, but learners who had been in school together prior to this year had a lot more detailed information to share.

Finally, for a homework assignment they were asked to come up with 20 character traits they felt described themselves. Here were some of my examples:

teacher, wife, sister, daughter, traveler, thinker, wonderer, worrier, peacemaker, athlete, dancer, creator, singer, poet, daydreamer, helper, listener, etc. 

During our community building time in the afternoon the next day we shared our character traits and I asked students to give suggestions to students who might not have met the 20 trait expectation.

Finally, we took out our MacBooks, took a self portrait (with NO people in the background) and then I walked them through the steps of turning their portrait into a word picture using tagxedo using the list of character traits they had generated.

Here are the directions I used, although I modified them for my kids. While this website doesn't show it, especially pay attention to the 'threshold' and 'blur' sections, as they really help define the lines of your objects. Also, for some reason I couldn't type in the text box, but I could copy and paste the list from a word document.

We printed the finished portraits and I laminated them and put them on my classroom wall. All day students, teachers, and administrators have been stopping and looking them over. Since I didn't label them with my students' names, kids from other classes have been reading the characteristics and trying to guess who they are.  I am excited for parent night to see if their families will recognize their kids!

I hope this help builds community, self-esteem, and teach character traits in your classroom as well!

~Michelle Louise


  1. How did your kids get the tagxedo to show such distinctive shape so it actually looks like them? I messed around with the threshold and blur and they still don't look anywhere near as clear as yours.

    1. Hi!
      Thanks for stopping by! I found that in order to get the best pictures the kids needed to be in front of a white (or very light background) and if they were wearing white shirts, I had them put on a backwards black sweater. A few kids had to take their photos a could times to make sure their eyes were wide open and that their hair was down.

      Just keep in mind that light colors won't get picked up. White = blank space and dark=words.
      If you know how to use photoshop, this is a helpful link: http://blog.tagxedo.com/how-to-make-a-great-portrait-tagxedo

      Good luck!