Reflection: Conferencing Fictional Elements in Video Shorts (Day 1/5) - Section 5: Discussing Character Traits

 

Character traits seem to be difficult for students to master. Every year I feel like I fight the battle of traits vs. feelings! Students somehow think that a character’s reaction to a situation or their feelings during it are great examples of traits. I’ve only found two ways to help dispel this confusion: assigning traits to oneself or walking a student through a character’s journey with that feeling/trait in mind. 

During today’s work time, I heard several students say that a character trait for the girl was "scared." I explained that yes, she could be described as scared at one point during the story and ask one student to provide me with proof to support her answer. She tells me that when the two men are fighting for her attention and money, the little girl appears to be afraid. Yes, you are right! OK – now let’s think about this. A character trait is a word that describes who someone is on the inside, right? So if we choose the word “scared,” then we are saying that this character is typically a scared person or one who nearly always is afraid. Would you say that is true of the little girl? The student tells me no. I tell her I agree and then ask her for evidence from the film to support her answer. She tells me about the beginning of the movie when the little girl walked up the One Man Band and eagerly listened. If the little girl were someone who was always afraid, she wouldn’t do that. She wouldn’t walk up to a complete stranger like that. She may not even walk to the fountain alone. Yes! Excellent response and proof! I then lead her to find a word that would better describe the little girl through the film and not just describe her feelings at one moment. We referred back to a list of character traits in her binder for help.

While this conversation was between one student and myself, others around surely benefited as they listened in. As Lucy Calkins says, “Never underestimate the power of eavesdropping!” 

  Trait Mini-lesson
  Conferencing: Trait Mini-lesson
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Fictional Elements in Video Shorts (Day 1/5)

Unit 11: Mastering Fiction Elements through Photos, Videos, and Text
Lesson 4 of 12

Objective: SWBAT analyze a short video to determine more about fictional elements.

Big Idea: Students continue their understanding of fictional elements through use of a short film. Today's focus is on one character's physical description and character traits.

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Subject(s):
English / Language Arts, character action, Genres (Reading), Fiction (Reading), fiction elements, character traits, film, physical description
  45 minutes
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