Who can do what?

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SWBAT tell who the characters in the story are and list things they can do, citing relevant evidence in the text to support their answers.

Big Idea

This lesson takes the students beyond the names of characters and makes them interact with the story to find out what each character can do.


7 minutes

One of the most promising (and challenging) shifts in practice that I see in the implementation of common core standards is having the students interact closely with the text, finding information and evidence independently. I have to stay aware of the need to go beyond reading to them, or giving them books exactly at their level, and start exposing them to texts a bit above their reading ability and lead them to find out information, form opinions, answer questions and find evidence in the text. It seems to be like a balancing act: I must teach my first graders how to read and write, while leading them to gain the confidence to unravel text independently. Scaffolding seems even more important now.

I started the year with a series on introductory reading comprehension lessons. Within two weeks, the class was eager to jump into text, attempting to read, examining pictures, predicting and inferring based on what they could decipher. No matter what their ability level, they were ready to solve the puzzle.  RL 10 (With prompting and support, read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1) and R1 (with prompting and support, read informational texts appropriately complex for grade 1) had become part of our classroom culture. 

The goal of this lesson was for the students to analyze the characters in a story and, providing evidence from the text, list what each one can do (RL 3 Describe characters, settings and major events in a story using key details; RL 7 Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.)

The lesson can be done with the whole class, or in small groups. I did it in small groups because I wanted to do a bit of reading instruction with my low students, and challenge my high group with additional questions. As usual when we are going to do small group work, I told the class that the objective for today was to find out who the characters were in a story and what they were doing. Then I gave them the directions for independent work. While the class was working on independent journal writing, and on some worksheets, I called my groups to my table. They brought their Language Arts Anthology, I provided highlighting tape (There is a picture of the tape in the resource section), markers and paper. 

Independent practice

15 minutes

As each of my groups came to work with me, I explained again that they were going to read a story and that I wanted them to think about the characters in the story and what they did in the story. I told them that when they had read the story twice, they should start completing a chart showing what the characters could do. I gave each five small pieces of highlighting tape (There is a picture of the tape in the resource section.) and reminded them to find the evidence in the text before completing the chart. 

I try to avoid making copies of charts or graphic organizers that my students can do by themselves. In this case they simply folded a paper in half, wrote name and date and then "Pam can" on one side and "Sam can" on the other. 

The high frequency words in the story were part of the weekly instructional routine, but I let them read the story by themselves. 


10 minutes

At the end of the lesson I called the class to the rug area and asked them Who the characters in the story were? and What they could do? Then we talked about how they had figured out what each character could do and I told them that they would use those strategies in future lessons to find key details about the characters.