Today we will revisit character development in our books (The Color Purple or A Walk Across America), so to start, I ask students to think of 1 word or phrase that describes either Peter or Celie. I give them a minute to think, asking for a thumbs up when each students has a word. Then, I ask students to share, moving quickly around the circle:
Celie--strong, changed, scarred
Peter--brave, adventurous, hippie
For now, I ask for no reasoning--this will come during the rest of the lesson.
I remind students that we are looking at character development today to help us build toward a new standard, in which I will ask students to analyze the impact of authors' choices regarding how story elements relate to one another. We started this work in a previous lesson; today we will finish our mapping of our main character. I ask students to review the Character Analysis assignment, and I then break them into groups and assign sections of the novel to each group, saving time they would have spent dividing up on their own.
When all groups are finally comfortable with the assignment, I stroll the room to address content-related questions, of which there are few. By now students know their characters well and have no problems answering the questions now that they are understood.
We close the day with presentations in large groups. I subtly shift between groups to hear their responses. Both groups are able to identify the big changes in their characters: Celie finds her courage and inner strength, and Peter finds his identity and purpose by interacting with others. Students will need to know these changes in order to consider how the elements of the story work together; they're ready to shift their focus to the whole standard.