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Holden Meets Hamlet


Through this fun activity students develop a rich understanding of characters by imagining an interaction between characters from different texts.  Variations of this activity include writing a scene from a play, a dialogue, or a set of letters.

Learning Strategies 

  • Inferring
  • Synthesizing
Character Analysis

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Reading
  • Writing

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Writing from Sources


Identify a pair of texts that are already familiar to the students, each of which includes at least one well-developed and interesting character or historical figure. Decide if you want students to write a scene from a play, a dialogue, or a set of letters, or if you want students to choose. Prepare or find a model of the completed activity to help guide students.

Activity Steps 
  1. Students review the two texts, and choose a character or set of characters from each text.

    You may want students to complete a preparatory activity to flesh out their understanding of each individual character. You want students to have a good grasp of the characteristics of each character such as background experiences, affiliations, guiding beliefs, interests, style of language, motivations, desires, and intentions. Students could write a profile of each character in preparation, and/or highlight primary clues about each character in each text.

  2. Individually or in pairs, students write an imagined interaction between the characters in the form of a scene from a play, a dialogue, or a set of letters.

    As students are working, circulate among them and confer with them, gauging their understanding and pushing them towards higher-level thinking.

  3. Their work should show a deep understanding of each character, and a plausible representation of how the characters might react and respond to one another. One way to scaffold or guide this activity to ensure you get a deep analysis and quality work is to give students a topic that the two characters might be discussing.

  4. Students share out their work in small groups or to the whole class. They might take turns performing sections of their work in pairs, or display their work on a wall and do a gallery walk.

    It is helpful to provide students with a structured way to respond to each other’s work, perhaps by giving them a graphic organizer on which they can write three things they like and one question they have about each document. They may benefit from sentence stems that can help them to provide constructive feedback.

  5. In groups or individually, in writing or in discussion, students reflect on their learning and their learning process. They should respond to questions such as: · How does imagining character interactions help you to better understand each individual cha

    Guide students by listening to and expanding their thinking in journal responses, conferences, or class discussion.

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