The Five Methods for Creating Characters in the Short Story "Sucker"

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SWBAT analyze how complex characters develop over the course of a text by employing a characterization reading guide.

Big Idea

Students can analyze characters using a five step process.


10 minutes

As students enter the class and get their folders they are directed to read the agenda on the board and more specifically the Activator which give the directions: “Think of someone you admire and write 2-3 character traits that would tell me about this person.”  

I will be focusing on character development today so I want my students to start thinking of character traits and character development before I jump into the text.  I refer to their activator during the Student Learning Activity part of the lesson.

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

By the time students leave the sixth grade they generally understand the main concept of characterization in literature but because my ninth grade repeaters have gaps in their learning, I need to review characterization and add creativity to the lesson. My students are reviewing character terms that they learned from middle school, but are using these skills as building blocks to later evaluate character development and how characters advance the plot in future lessons RL.9-10.3.

This lesson's learning objective translates into students being able to analyze the techniques that authors use in order to describe characters.  This is a concept I like to cover at the beginning of the school year so that students can have more meaningful discussions as we move into our novel units throughout the year. Analyzing complex text is one of the ELA common core shifts.

I use a Power Point presentation on Characterization to teach and review the Five Methods for Creating Characters.  I included a power point to support my visual learners abilty to see and comprehend the learning.  After reviewing slide #2,  I ask students to place the character traits they listed during the Activator of a person they admire, into one of the categories, i.e. speak, appearance, etc..  Next I use the Power Point Guided Discussion using a familar text "Rip Van Winkle" as examples of each of the Five Methods for Creating Characters.  


Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

Students are given the Five Methods for Creating Characters worksheet. Using the story "Sucker," they locate examples in the story that describe the main characters, Pete and Sucker. Using my docucamera, I model how this is done by using the first Speaking trait.  I use a  "Think-A-Loud" reading strategy to demonstrate my thinking while finding the example in the story and providing the paragraph's number, quoting the sentence that explains how or what that example teaches us about Pete or Sucker. 

Carousel Reporting Activity

After students have completed the activity I divide students into five groups of three or four in a group and assign each group a method for creating characters which is written as a heading on chart paper taped to different areas of the classroom. One piece of chart paper is labeled Speak, and other Appearance and so on. Each group first discusses then a reporter writes on the chart paper a piece of evidence from the text SL.9-10.1.  After a specified amount of time (2-3 minutes) groups move to another chart, read, discuss and write additional examples of specific method they found in the text. This is repeated until all groups have read and added their examples. I think cooperative learning strategies in the classroom is a creative and motivating way to help students learn. I use Carousel Reporting activity to activate students’ prior knowledge as well as knowledge they gained during this lesson, while engaging them physically in the learning process. 


10 minutes

My Wrap-Up activity was an Exit Slip.  I asked student to write 1 thing they learned, 1 thing question they have, and 1 comment on character analysis. I will read their exit slips and group similar questions which I will address the following day. I don't expect them to always "get it" the first, second and sometimes third time around. Re-teaching and re-doing is an integral part of my teaching and my students learning.