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Activity Overview


Tom Benecke’s priorities change significantly throughout the short story “Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket”. Use the activity for Character Evolution with your students to help them keep track of how Tom evolves throughout the course of his ordeal.

Example Character Evolution for Tom Benecke


Plot

Traits

Explanation

ExpositionDark-haired young man, tall, lean, pullover sweater. Works hard; wants to make a difference in his grocery industry. Tom is skipping the movies with his wife to stay home and work on an independent project. He kids that his work will someday earn him the title of “The Boy Wizard of Wholesale Groceries.”
Conflict/
Rising Action
Desperate; unable to abandon the sheet of paper Tom is unable to understand that he should abandon the sheet of paper. It has weeks’ worth of research on it for a new kind of grocery-store display. The time to present the idea is now for use in the spring displays. To replicate the work, it would take him two whole months.
ClimaxCalm, cool, and collected; methodical, until he stoops down to grab the paper; then he becomes panicked, frozen, and clumsy Tom initially goes out to retrieve the paper carefully, but without much concern. As Tom bends down to retrieve the paper, the true danger of his situation becomes clear as he views the street 11 stories below him.
Falling ActionFrightened; delirious; realistic Tom reaches the window and it slams shut on him as he grasps it to keep from falling. He thinks that it would be funny if he were to wait out on the ledge and Clare came home to find him there, and he almost laughs out loud. He looks at his watch, however, and realizes she’s only been gone eight minutes and will probably be gone four hours. He knows he needs to get inside. He screams “Clare!” and punches in the window.
ResolutionElated; energized; prioritized As soon as Tom is back in the apartment, he goes straight to the closet to get his coat and join Clare. He gives no more thought to working that night; he is grateful to be alive. As he watches the paper fly back out the window, he laughs and closes the door; he finally realizes that work is not more important than his life.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-12

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual or Group

Type of Activity: Character Development

Common Core Standards
  • [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


Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)



Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows the evolution of Tom Benecke throughout the course of "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket".


  1. Use the Character Evolution Template to get started.
  2. Break the story down into Exposition, Conflict/Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. What traits does Tom have?
  3. Illustrate one or more of the traits for each stage of the story.
  4. Identify major events in each part of the story that affected Tom.

Character Evolution Template - Novel/Story


Rubric

(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)



Character Evolution and Analysis
Characters tend to change or evolve with events that happen in the plot of a story. Track the evolution of a primary character throughout the story, highlighting their key traits and the events that impact them during the exposition, conflict/rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Create a storyboard that depicts each event, along with a brief description of their traits at each point in the plot, and an analysis of how events in the plot impact or change the character.
Proficient
33 Points
Emerging
27 Points
Beginning
22 Points
Try Again
17 Points
Character Evolution Traits and Analysis
The character traits and evolution are identified correctly at each of the five plot points. The analysis of the traits at each plot point clearly shows the link between the events that happen in the story and their impact on the character. The analysis reveals insight and understanding of the character's journey and the work as a whole.
Most of the character traits and evolution are identified correctly at each of the five plot points. The analysis of the traits at each plot point shows the link between the events that happen in the story and their impact on the character, although some of the analyses might be unclear or inaccurate. The analysis reveals understanding of the character's journey and the work as a whole.
Some of the character traits and evolution are identified correctly at each of the five plot points. The analysis of the traits at each plot point attempts to establish a link between the events that happen in the story and their impact on the character, but some of the analyses may be inaccurate, unclear, or minimal. There is an attempt to reveal insight and understanding of the character's journey and the work as a whole.
Most of the character traits and evolution are identified incorrectly, are missing, or are too limited to score. There is minimal or no analysis to establish a link between the events that happen in the story and their impact on the character, and there may be no attempt to reveal insight and understanding of the character's journey and the work as a whole.
Artistic Depictions
The art chosen to depict the scenes are historically appropriate to the work of literature. It is evident that the student spent a lot of time, creativity, and effort into carefully crafting each artistic depiction.
The art chosen to depict the scenes should be historically appropriate, but there may be some liberties taken that distract from the assignment. It is evident that the student stayed on task and put time and effort into crafting each artistic depiction.
Most of the art chosen to depict the scenes are historically appropriate, but there are serious deviations that cause confusion or inaccuracies. The student may not have paid much attention to detail in crafting each depiction, and there may be evidence of rushing or limited effort.
Most of the art chosen to depict the scenes are historically inappropriate, missing, or too limited to score. It is evident that the student did not put a lot of time, effort, and creativity into crafting each artistic depiction.
English Conventions
Ideas are organized. Displays control of grammar, usage, and mechanics. Shows careful proofreading.
Ideas and quotes are organized. Contains few errors in grammar, usage and mechanics. Shows some proofreading.
Ideas and quotes are organized. Contains errors in grammar, usage and mechanics which interfere with communication. Shows a lack of proofreading.
Contains too many errors in grammar, usage and mechanics; (and/or) errors seriously interfere with communication. Shows a lack of proofreading.




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