What does the American Flag symbolize? It represents freedom and the many lives lost in gaining that freedom for our country. Similarly, symbols in stories represent or stand for something else by association. In the fictional story, "The Medicine Bag" that students are reading in this lesson, the medicine bag is symbolic.
Prior to students discovering its meaning, they will answer questions about the symbols represented on the The Medicine Bag symbols power point. Students can work in pairs or independently. I choose to have students work independently first, collaborate with a partner second, then share out the consensus made within the group. This instructional choice was made to appreciate the use of prior knowledge and backgrounds that play as factors for how my students may respond to this prompt. Additionally, the independent work will allow students to remain confident in an answer then share their knowledge to uncover how similar objects yield various interpretations in society. In the end, this activity allows students to think about associations attached to various symbols which helps relate to the idea of symbolism in "The Medicine Bag."
Discovering character traits of an individual in a text can be defined by many means. In the first lesson, Discovering Minor and Major Characters in a Fictional Text, students analyzed characters from descriptions by an author in the story. In this lesson students will look at the story to discover how characters develop inside the action or incidents of the story. Students will take notes from the The Medicine Bag characters power point on the four types of characters in a story. Here is an example of the characterization notes a student took during this time in the lesson! With this information, students can see how both major and minor characters impact details and events that must occur in a story to develop its character. The most challenging task with discovering character traits in literature is not being able to control the amounts of information presented by the author for each character. As a result, it can be hard to identify flat and round characters especially if story details are limited or repetitive. Nonetheless, "The Medicine Bag" offers a different type of character trait for the three main characters of the story. Since this was no accident, it is a great story to use when teaching this literary concept.
Students will read the story a second time in pairs. I chose the joint reading since it is true that reading a piece of literature more than once can offer new insight beyond your first interaction with the text. Because this is the third interaction with the text, students are free to select their reading buddy.
Students will take the questions from the power point and answer them in their notebooks. These questions include:
1. What does the medicine bag symbolize to the Sioux culture? to Martin? to Grandpa?
2. Which type of character is Martin? How do you know?
3. Which type of character is Cheryl? How do you know?
Since questions 2 & 3 require a one word answer, I ask my students to use 3 pieces of evidence from the "The Medicine Bag" to support their opinions on the types of characters Martin and Cheryl are in the story. As seen in this student responses to Medicine Bag questions example, students are developing their writing skills, enhancing their use of textual evidence, and drawing conclusions about characters in a work.
I want my students to understand that all characters in a story are important to some aspect of the text. Knowing the character type allows students to begin to understand how much development the character will make over the course of the text and why at times so many or few characters are needed in a work of literature.
Students will analyze the use of the medicine bag in the story. I will ask students to think about the answer to this question:
What does the medicine bag symbolize to the Sioux culture? to Martin? To Grandpa?
We will hold a mini discussion on the importance of the medicine bag to these three characters in the story. While the Sioux culture is represented by Martin’s ancestry, the medicine bag is also representative of new birth of identity that meets back up with its past to impact the future. Check out my the medicine bag reflection to see why the redundancy of culture is essential to this part of the lesson!