Why Characters Do What They Do

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SWBAT analyze how and why characters interact over the course of the text.

Big Idea

Changing shoes is connected to a character analysis. Why do we change shoes?


10 minutes

Common Core Connection

The Common Core Standard is RL.1.3, which states that students should be able to analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.  I try to provide an opportunity for students to develop this skill by introducing it with a real life connection.  I also allow my students to read a variety of high quality literacy texts over a broad range of subjects to meet the college and career readiness goals.  

Lesson Overview

In this lesson students listen to me explain why I change clothes.  Learners are given a choice of texts to use to analyze the character.  The texts are pre-selected based on their lexile level.  I feel that 1st grade students need to be reading at their current lexile to improve fluency (though I supplement with read alouds that are complex also so that students can be exposed to richer texts).

Introductory Activity

I seat the class on the lounge next to their collaborative partner. I ask them to discuss why they might change shoes or clothes.  After about one minute, I tell them that one time I fell in a mud hole at school and my Mom had to bring me clothes.  Then I explain that today we are going to analyze why character do the things they do in a text. 

I chose to connect character analysis to changing shoes because it is something that everyone does.  This allows them to connect themselves personally to what I am talking about.  It creates engagement.  The students can identify with the person changing their shoes and this personal connection helps students understand and analyze the character.  

In the guided practice the story of my bad day is great because everyone has had a bad day.  So, my students can connect to the story.  This personal connection allows the students to more easily analyze the character.  


Guided Practice

15 minutes

As I begin the guided practice, I tell them the story about my terrible day.  It was awful. First my son's babysitter was sick; then my instructional coach came by, and I did not capitalize Nintendo when I was writing; and last I forgot my lunch.  I show the class the Model I made (you can find it in the resource section).  It is a big piece of bulletin board paper and cut into two sections.  To help the students organize their thoughts I use a simple graphic organizer.  The top tells about the day and the bottom tells why. I like to add illustrations to help show meaning, and I added them to the best of my ability.

Then I explain these are the reasons that I had a bad day.  I then tell the students I want them to tell me about their bad day. I allow the students to tell their partner what happened first in their bad day. Common Core really supports collaboration. I then ask how this made the day bad. I listen and share what I heard. Then they discuss what happened in the middle of their bad day.  I ask them to discuss why this made the day bad. I share what I heard on group say. The students then share the ending of their bad day. Last, I ask one student to tell me about their bad day from the beginning to the end.  I write the information on the graphic organizer.  

As I wind up this section, I ask why and how each detail made the day bad and add that to the graphic organizer.  If the student had any interaction with others over the course of the bad day I ask them to explain the connection between that person and the day.  I am trying to give my class a personal and real application for how and why characters interact. 

Group Work

15 minutes

I try to give my students choices often so I allow them to choose a text and analyze the characters. In order to try to engage my students I provide texts that I think my students are familiar with and are lexiled at their level.  Since the students worked with me in the guided practice I feel that they are ready to try to organize their own thoughts on their own graphic organizer. I try to provide the example for everyone so I hang my model up for them to reference.  Sometimes students go up the seats closer to the model when they need help.  

 I really want to encourage Collaboration so  my students are working in heterogeneous groups of two or three and seated at the center tables. I select the groups based on ability, personality, and gender.  I want to show my students I respect their feelings and I try to keep them comfortable in their grouping.  I want to create the best learning environment I can.

There is a great video (Student Work) of their work in the resources. You can check it out if you like.

Student Reflection

10 minutes

At the end of the lesson, I have students meet me in the lounge area to share out what they noticed about characters in their books.  I find that this gives students some time to practice speaking and listening skills, but I make sure to go over the rules of speaking and listening extensively before having students share out.  It’s better to be proactive than to correct misbehavior, right?  After we listen to about two or three volunteers, I ask students to draw a conclusion about what we learned today.  First students discuss their ideas with their partner, which engages everyone and gives them a chance to practice before sharing to the whole group. Then, when I call on students, they feel more comfortable because they had the chance to practice. For this particular share out, I make sure to listen closely for students to explain that they learned about analyzing characters’ interactions.



5 minutes

We chant I can analyze characters.  They echo, tell their partner, and then say it with me.  Last, I let one person tell us what they learned.  I am making notes on whether I need to reteach this skill.