Lesson: What Kind of Person Would Do That? Analyzing Character Actions

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Lesson Objective

Students will know and be able explain how a character’s trait influence their actions by asking, “What kind of person would do that?”

Lesson Plan


State Standard:

5.LT-F.4. Describe the relationships between major and minor characters; analyze how a character's traits influence that character's actions.

5.LT-G.2. Identify and analyze the characteristics of various genres (poetry, fiction, nonfiction, short story, dramatic literature) as forms with distinct characteristics and purposes.




Students will know and be able explain how a character’s trait influence their actions by asking, “What kind of person would do that?”

Do Now

Respond in your journal to the following. Remember to write what you think the quote means and your first thoughts.

 “Everything we do defines who we are.”-Anonymous



Read a newspaper article about a crime. Then ask: What kind of person would do this? Ex. Ask what kind of person would steal a car? How do you know?


Direct Instruction

T: Students understanding a character’s trait or personality is so important to deeply understanding a character actions. Certain types of people do certain things. A criminal who is mean and angry would assault a stranger. A  person who loves children and medicine would become a pediatrician.   Today, we are going to really practice thinking about a character’s trait and think about how that trait influences their actions. I am going to show you using a poem. This poem is about Harriet Tubman. Now you already know a lot about Harriet Tubman so we are going to use a lot of inference as we analyze this text. While reading, I am going to be asking, What kind of person would...? And I am going to think about how her traits influenced her actions.


T: Read the Poem: Harriet Tubman by Eloise Greenfield in Honey, I love. 



Discussion:  Ask: What kind of person wouldn’t take no stuff? risk their lives? How would you describe Harriet Tubman (character traits)? Why? What actions make you believe that (  ) is a good trait to apply to Tubman? How did Tubman’s traits help her influence her community? How did Harriet change her community? If she were alive today, what kind of person would she be? What would she try to change today? What other characters are in this poem? What traits can we apply to them? How did their actions impact their community?

Guided Practice

Now we are going to use the same strategy asking ourselves: 

What kind of person would....? as we read the Librarian of Basra. 


While  reading  use turn and talk and ask the question, What kind of person would do that? Discuss how her traits influenced her community.  



Independent Practice

I want you choose a character from your independent text (good or bad). Remember that negative character traits also influence actions.  I want you to ask: What kind of person would do that and assign character traits to your characters. Then I want you to discuss how those traits influenced the actions. Record your thinking in your reading journal.



Review student use of strategy. Remind them of teaching point and importance.




Compare and contrast Harriet to the Librarian. What character traits do they have in common? How did those traits influence their actions? What other people do you know that have similar traits? Are their actions similar?



Lesson Resources

Harriet Tubman
Washington Post Crime


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