Embodiment for Comprehension

26 January


Reading and comprehension are traditional challenges for students of all ages whether it is fiction or non-fiction. Building a character profile can help students process and interpret what they are reading by looking for clues about how the character thinks, feels and acts. Using their body as a metaphor, students can act out their identities and gain deeper understanding, as the basis for comprehension.


Retelling the story of a chosen character is easier with concrete actions associated with the words, supported with visual and aural representations. This engagement creates a deeper, more personal understanding of the character. It also gives the students a chance to practice public speaking skills.

In Character Profile, students create the sets of images and sounds that represent these aspects of a character. They can take pictures with phones or tablets, find images, or draw their own. They can record their own voice or use music to bring life to their profile.

These are then loaded into the scenario. When students point toward their feet, the action elements appear. When they hold their hand to their heart, the feeling elements appear. When they raise their hand above their head, thought elements appear.

In the Classroom

In the context of the English Language Arts classroom, students can create profiles of the actions, feelings, and thoughts of characters in the books or plays they are studying.
Students at Spring Hill Elementary in Fayetteville, Georgia, created a character profile based on Billie Jo from the story by Karen Hesse, Out of the Dust.


Middle school theater students at Providence Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina use their SMALLab for character development where they can collaborate and interact.


In the context of the English as a Second Language classroom or when teaching World Languages, students can create profiles as a creative way to introduce themselves and practice speaking. Character Profile can also help record information about historical figures.