Lesson Ideas for Teaching Understanding Characters

Sunday, September 10, 2017

I am excited to dive deeper into reading skills and share some ideas to apply to whole group and small group lessons. In this series, I will focus on a reading skill, take a look at options for differentiating instruction and provide resources that may be helpful!



To begin to understand characters, our students need to know what are character traits? Simply put,  character traits are words we use to describe characters.  Activate students' background knowledge by reviewing and brainstorming a list of adjectives.

This free adjectives mini-pack will help with scaffolding instruction.



Next, choose a person or a character everyone in the class is familiar with. I like to pick a character from a book we have recently read as a whole group. Or you could use yourself or the principal!  We can develop words to describe the character which we will use in several ways.

Here we used Henry and Mudge because we read it the first week of school. I just projected a picture of Mudge on the Smartboard and I wrote the words around him. (Sorry the picture isn't very quality!)



If students are having a difficult time coming up with words besides "happy or sad", Workshop Classroom has an excellent free resource for students to reference.  You can find that here.



Next, we sorted the post-its in two ways.  First, we looked at the words that described his physical appearance vs. internal characteristics. I used this anchor chart to help my students understand the difference between inside and outside traits.


Then, we took a look at the positive vs. negative traits.  This prompted a great discussion including students defending reasons for their choice.


For extra practice or to reinforce these skills, you can download my Character Trait Word Sort freebie here.


Next, it is time to work on HOW we choose character traits based on a character's actions, words, thoughts and feelings. For this, I used Rosie Revere, Engineer. We kind of worked backwards and started with naming the character traits. 


Then, we went back in the book and used post it notes to mark evidence to support each of the character traits we chose. I simply wrote each word on a post it and as we re-read, students were thinking about which word best matched with Rosie's words, actions or thoughts.  Then we marked that spot in the book with the post-it!

I used the same post-it lesson with my small group except this time in reverse.  As they were reading, they had their post-its ready to mark.  For my students who still needed some support, they just marked the spot.  Others wrote a character trait on the post it AND marked the evidence.  

You can download this lesson plan here.



For more resources to help teach understanding characters, check out my common core aligned reference posters and graphic organizers.



Happy Teaching!


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