Role On The Wall

Number of Players

A place to write and something to write with (more than one color is helpful)

What Is It and Why Use It?

Role on the Wall is a strategy that invites students to infer meaning about a character and to visually map the relationship between characteristics (emotions) and actions (behaviors) onto a simple outline of a human figure. By inviting students to analyze context clues, the group collectively explores and constructs a more complex understanding of the character’s motivation.


Draw a large outline of a head/shoulders or human figure on paper; leave plenty of space to write inside and outside the figure. Name the character for the group and provide any necessary context. Invite the group to name out words, phrases, or messages that this specific person might receive. Write student responses on the outside of the figure. When a “message” is offered, invite participants to think about where it comes from. Connect messages to the messenger visually on the paper through color or a line and encourage students to find multiple answers. Types of responses can also be grouped together on the paper (for example: positive on one side of figure, negative on the other) to provide further visual organization. Next, ask students how the character might feel inside, based on the outside messages, and write those feelings on the inside of the figure with another color. Finally, ask students to connect specific “outside” messages to the inner feelings, and draws lines between those connections on the figure.

  • What events, people or actions impact this person the most? Why?
  • Is this a realistic portrait of _____ ? Why or why not?
  • Does this character/person ever shift or change? Is there something that could make a change?
Possible Side-Coaching
  • Who might have an opinion about this character’s actions? Why? What would they say to express their opinion? Who else might have a different opinion?
  • How does the character feel as a result of all of these opinions about her/his actions? Why?
Possible Variations/Applications
  • Generate feelings first, then use those to come up with the outer actions of a character.
  • Invite students to use textual references to support their answers.
  • Have groups work in small groups or individually on their own role on the wall character map.
  • Using a full body outline, map specific attributes of the character into specific areas of the body (i.e., Hands: What does the character want to do?; Feet: Where does the character want to go?; Heart: How is the character feeling?; Head: What is the character thinking?)
Source Citations

Jonothan Neelands and Tony Goode