Lesson: Characters and Setting

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to identify characters and setting in a narrative. Students will notice all fiction stories have a setting and characters.

Lesson Plan

Warm Up (3-5 mins)  Students are seated on the carpet with a partner.  Students will be expected to turn and talk with this partner during guided practice. Students read the objective.  Explain to students that as readers we must notice specific things about a text we are reading.  Today, we will learn to identify characters and the setting in a fiction story.  Ask a student to define fiction orally as a review.


Instruction (3-5 mins) Define a character as a person in a fiction story.  Explain to students that some stories can have many characters or only one character.  Define setting as the time and place in which a story occurs.  Be sure to explain to students that setting is not only the location but also the time (time of day, time of year, time period). 


Modeling (10-15 mins) Read aloud from a text. I use Copper Sun by Sharon Draper but the lesson can easily be scaffolded up or down with the use of another text.  Teacher reads aloud.


       In spite of the heat, Amari trembled.  The buyers of slaves had arrived.  Amari bit her lip, determined not to cry.  But she couldn't stop herself from screaming out as her arms were wrenched behind her back and tied.  A searing pain shot up through her shoulders.  A white man clamped shackles on her ankles, rubbing his hands up her legs as he did.  Amari tensed and tried to jerk away, but the chains were too tight.  She could not hold back the tears.  It was the summer of her fifteenth year, and this day she wanted to die.


Readers, I learned so much already from just that short paragraph.  Display chart with two colums, one with setting and one with characters.  Model thinking for students.  I noticed while I was reading that there were many characters in that paragraph.  Amari is one of the characters I will add her to my chart under the character heading.  I also noticed there was a white man that wasn't named in the paragraph but the author says the buyers of slaves had arrived.  So I will add slave buyer to the chart.  Now that I listed all my characters I can focus on the setting.  Remember the setting is the time and place where the story happens.  I know it is summer because it's the summer of Amari's fifteenth year and the author says, in spite of the heat.  I will write summer under setting for time.  I also want to think about the time period.  There are slave buyers in this story so I will write it was during the time period of slavery on my chart.  The author hasn't explained where the story takes place yet so we will have to keep reading to gather more information.


Read Aloud second paragraph.


          Amari shuffled in the dirt as she was led into the slave yard and up onto a raised wooden table, which she realized gave the people in the yard a perfect view of the women who were to be sold.  Most of the people in the crowd were men; however, she did see a poorly dressed white girl about her own age standing near a wagon.  The girl had a sullen look on her face, and she seemd to be the only person not interested in what was going on at the slave sale. 


Guided Practice (5-10 mins) Students turn and talk to a partner and tell them what they would add to the chart under characters.  Students share out responses.  Students should include the little girl and possibly the men in the crowd.  Students turn and talk with a partner to tell them what they would add the setting column.  Students share out responses.  Students should include that the story takes place at a slave yard during a slave sale.  Correct any student misconceptions and push thinking further by asking predictions for the time period/exact location of the story.


Independent Practice (15-20 mins) Students return to their seats and complete their own setting/character chart.  Students should read independently in their "just right" books and fill out the chart using details from their own book.  Students work independently for approximately 15 minutes.


Exit Slip (3-5 mins) Students complete the setting/characters worksheet as an exit slip to ensure all students mastered the objective for the lesson.  To differentiate the lesson for lower/struggling readers the paragraphs can be read aloud to students.


Reflection: This lesson went really well with 18 out of 20 students mastering the concept on the exit slip.  I liked teaching this lesson because it gave students multiple times to practice and engaged them in many different ways through turning and talking and independent work.  The hardest part about mastery of this objective through the use of an exit slip is the varying reading levels present in the classroom.  One way I worked around this issue was by reading aloud to the students the two passages on the exit slip.  However, many of my students were ready for more of a challenge.  If I were to teach this lesson again I would create different leveled exit slips to ensure each student was successful but also challenged.

Lesson Resources

Characters and Setting Exit Slip   Assessment
settingchart   Classwork


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