What Kind of Person Would do That?: Analyze Characters in Texts

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SWBAT describe characters based on evidence from the text.

Big Idea

Students develop theories of what kind of role the character has based on details and evidence in the text.


5 minutes

On Thanksgiving, my husband and I went to his sister-in-law’s house.  Our little nephew Ryan was there.  Ryan has started to learn how to read but was really shy with reading. I tried to get him to read and he wouldn’t.  I asked my husband to try.  He asked little Ryan to read and Ryan shook his head.  He asked little Ryan to read 1 word and they praised him.  Ryan got excited and then read some more and with every little bit of reading, Ryan got more and more excited. 

My husband understood Ryan needed to feel successful.  So when it was my time, I was also able to get him to read. My husband helped me understand Ryan better. 

To read people – in life and in stories – its important to remember that action are like windows to the person. In life and in the book we pause after characters have done something and say, let me use what just happened to understand this person.

To teach this lesson, I read a picture book to the class and think out loud. Some of the questions I ask myself as I model for the class are: What do I know about main character? I know if I pay close attention to how the character is acting, I can use that to learn more about what kind of person this is.

Sometimes when I’m trying to think what the actions show, it helps me to think what a character could have done but didn’t do.  I think of a character’s actions as choices.  Why might this person have acted THIS way, not THAT other way?



10 minutes

 As I read, I form a theory about the main character and state the theory using the words, "So and so is the type of character that ______. For example, in this part of the story the character did this."

I ask the students to pay attention to the characters as I read on and think about the following things.

Pay attention to actions
What did the actions tell me about the character?
How else could the character acted?
What pattern does this fit into? What is a little theory about this person?
Continue to read and revise or confirm the theory as you read.

 After I've read another section, I ask for students to share their ideas. I reinforce the sentence structure so they practice creating a theory and backing it up with evidence.

 After the read aloud is over, they will practice is in their own books, making sure to ask the following questions: “What do I think about this character? What happened in the book that makes me think that is true? What is my theory about the character?”




5 minutes

Students have taking notes in their journal and I will be able to use those notes as a formal assessment and a way to talk to students about their comprehension and ability to support their thinking with evidence from the text. 

To close this lesson, I ask a few students to share what they discovered in their reading. I ask them to make a statement and support it with at least one text based detail. Frequently giving students and opportunity to share their thinking as part of the closing creates a classroom culture of learning and high expectations.