We have been working with the story Wemberly Worried. We have focused on why she is worried, but today we are going to focus on how the character, Wemberly, changes from the beginning to the end of the story. I want students to have a deeper understanding about what happens in the story to cause the character to change.
In the opening of the lesson we quickly review what we remember about the book.
I reread the story to them, but remind them what we are focusing on this time we read: Wemberly changing throughout the story. I want my students to focus on not just how Wemberly changes, but why she changes throughout the story. Common Core asks us to challenge our students to read beyond "what is happening" and study "why it's happening."
As they tell me character traits and emotions that Wemberly possesses, I ask them what in the text gave them the clue. I want them to refer back to the text, and use the text to tell me what happens that makes her feel and act a certain way.
I also want them to move beyond words like happy and sad. They need to start thinking about the nuances and details in the story, and words like happy and sad just don't describe character emotions in rich texts deeply enough. I still get a few of the bland words, and I include them on the chart. However, immediately following a response like "sad," I ask, "What in the text made them think she was sad." Then I ask if anyone can use that same part of the text to come up with another word to use other than sad. When another student gives the word "upset," I ask if that means the same thing as sad. I have the student that said sad repeat the word "upset," and ask the student if they mean the same thing? The student says,"yes." We continue to hone until we get to words that are better descriptors.
I would like my students to have a deeper vocabulary, but much of my class comes from limited English speaking homes. If you have a class like mine you may need to take some time to develop deeper word choice to describe the character's feelings so that students begin using words like lonely, disappointed, dejected, anxious, etc.
I have a T-chart labeled Wemberly changes chart: Wemberly changes chart. One side is the beginning and the other side is the end. In the beginning she is worried, scared, and sad, but in the end she is shy, friendly, and excited. At the bottom of the chart we write a sentence that tells how Wemberly has changed.
Partners choose one of their library books to make a T-chart about the main character. Their library books are on their independent reading level. I tell my students which level books to choose from at the library and have taught them how to choose "good-fit books."
They will write the emotions for the main character in the beginning and at the end. Then they will write a sentence telling how the character changes from the beginning to the end of the story.
*A note to the reader: This being the beginning of the year and many of my students being very low and nonreaders the stories I chose for this activity were not very complex. Please see my reflections about how I will teach this lesson differently next year.
While walking around as my students were working, they were very excited to share about their character. So for the closing of this lesson I have students share their sentences with the class.