Emotions Analysis

This is a great activity to use in order to (1) get more reps and (2) give your students critical thinking practice. It works best as a whole-group/discussion activity as opposed to an assessment because the discussion is the most valuable component–that’s where students are honing their critical thinking skills. However, you could absolutely use an abbreviated version of this activity as an assessment; either reading or writing. I would try to avoid using it as a reading comprehension assessment (in lower level classes, anyway) because students may very well be able to understand the reading, but underdeveloped critical thinking skills could prevent them from being able to make hypotheses based on what they’ve read.

The Activity

After you’ve read a story, pull out as many as 10 different ‘moments’ or events. Then, choose a character that is somehow involved in each event. Finally, choose four emotions that, between the four of them, more or less describe how those characters feel about those events.

You will read the moment to the student, then ask how the character that you’ve selected feels about the event. Students need to choose from your ’emotion bank’ of four emotions–the BEST emotion might not be in the bank, so they need to make the best choice from what’s available. Have students write their answers on individual whiteboards (A, B, C, or D), or you could number the emotions and have them hold up the number of fingers that corresponds to their response.

Here’s an example from Búscalo:

Read: “Sinkil says to Mateo, “Yes. I know where it is! It’s in my stomach. I ate it, and it was delicious”.

Ask: How does Sinkil feel? (Or, you could ask, “How does Mateo feel?”, or even, “How does the elephant feel?”

Respond: My students had to choose between these four emotions: (A) feels happy, (B) feels sad, (C) feels surprised, and (D) feels angry. I used this example because Sinkil, the perpetrator, doesn’t have clear-cut emotions. Many students answered that he feels happy. When I asked them to explain why, they said things like, “He’s a bad person because he eats his friend’s elephant”, or “He thinks the elephant is delicious”, or “He’s happy because Mateo is sad and he’s mean”.

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