Characters and Their Traits Day 2 of 3

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SWBAT ask and answer questions to understand key details about characters.

Big Idea

To know Wilbur is to love him.


10 minutes

Context and Overview

One of the strategies I use with my students is repetition. It is a very powerful strategy to use with English Language Learners, so it is a good strategy for my class in particular. Therefore, today, I am going back into a chapter we have already read, Wilbur's Boast, in Charlotte's Web to ask and answer questions about the characters. Today, we will continue to analyze the character traits of the characters. 

Before the students work independently to analyze their characters we will read the chapter with some text dependent questions.

Then my students will get the opportunity to share with their peers. Lastly, I will engage my students in a word study to analyze the word, "boast." There are different ways I teach my students vocabulary, and this is one way.

Introductory Activity

We gather on the rug. In addition to using the strategy of repetition, I like to review often with my students. Reviewing helps them connect old information with new knowledge and that is why I am asking them again: What are character traits?

Reading Chapter: Wilbur's Boast

25 minutes

In reading the chapter today, I am first drawing their attention closely to the title, "Wilbur's Boast." I ask them what the word, "boast," means. I give them few moments to think about it. I ask them to turn to their table partner, choose Partner A and Partner B. Then, I ask Partner A to ask Partner B, what they they think, "boast," means. Then, it's Partner B's time to ask. After that, I a few share the meaning.

I draw a bubble map on the white board and then tell them that as we read I will stop where we find clues about what we think the word boast means? Once we are done, then we will put the clues together and define the word.

I vary the number of text dependent questions I ask. Today, the questions I ask are about what is happening to Wilbur. It makes sense to ask those questions to help my students understand what the chapter is about. On page 56 when Wilbur first states he can build a web, I ask, what does Wilbur say? Text dependent questions are about asking the students to look at explicitly at what the text states. I follow up with the questions: 

Why is Fern chuckling?

What Does The Text Say About Fern Chuckling? 

After discussing, we read on.

Another question I ask:

•Why does Charlotte help Wilbur?

Other questions I ask:

  • What happens to Wilbur on his first attempt?
  • Why does Charlotte laugh?
  • Who helps Wilbur?
  • What happens to Wilbur on his second attempt?
  • Why is it that Wilbur cannot spin a web?
  • Why is this not a problem for Wilbur?

Page 60 is a good place to stop and ask: what other clues is the author giving us about what the word, "boast," means?

For the rest of the chapter, I read and have the students listen, without stopping to ask any more questions. This is helpful for their comprehension too, being able to just sit back and relax into the story.

At the end of the chapter, I ask the students to tell me What boast means given the clues we gathered from the chapter.

Choosing a Character to Research Character Traits

25 minutes

Once we are done with the chapter, I gather the students back on the rug. After students have sat for a while it is good to have them move. On the rug, I ask them, what character do you want to analyze? Then, I explain the Character Web they will be using and its components.

In this chapter, "Wilbur's Boast," we get to learn more about the characters. Understanding how these characters develop is very important in making sense of the plot. Students now will have the opportunity to choose a character and analyze their traits. They will need to reread this chapter or other parts of the story to complete the task. Here are examples of their analysis:






One of the shifts with the CCSS is teaching students to value evidence. They are collecting evidence in this way today.

As they work, I walk around for a few moments and make sure my students have started and are working on identifying character traits. I praise those students who I see are on task.

I ask students to start with the category they like first. I support students by asking them where in this chapter can they find evidence about their character. If they look as if do not get it, I direct them to a specific page. I don't read it for them, though; I still want them to find it on their own.

There are numerous templates we can use to do this task. The following template will work just as well: Character_Web

Whole Group Sharing

10 minutes

Now that my students have had an opportunity to work independently, I gather them back on the rug and give them the opportunity to share with their peers. In sharing their work, they are practicing speaking with a purpose and the audience is listening with a purpose. My students get to validate their learning and to get feedback about the evidence they have collected about their character.

I ask my students to share two stars and a wish:

  • Two stars: It means two student give specific details about what they liked.
  • A Wish: One student gives feedback about what they wished to happen in their work.

Here are the speakers for today:






Word Study: Analyzing the Word Boasting

20 minutes

Important Note: This task took place after lunch so my students got a natural break. I feel it would be too much to do all together.

There are different ways I teach vocabulary in my class. One method I use is word study. I chose the word boasting for them because it expands their understanding of Wilbur and the storyline. I intentionally choose boasting instead of boast because I want my students to experience the same word written in various tenses. Students need practice reading words in isolation and within context. I am providing two different types of context.

Now that the students have had one experience with the word boast, I am going to engage them in a different way to analyze the word.

I developed the Vocabulary template to engage my students in a discussion about words. We start at the top. I write the word on the board and they copy it onto the first box. Then, I proceed by asking them to write the word in syllables. To help them out, we clap out the word and then they break up the word on their own, but I do make sure they know the correct way.

I ask my students to look at how the word begins and ends. I write some familiar prefixes and suffixes for them on the white board. Once we identity either the prefix or suffix, I have a conversation about how that part of the word changes the meaning of the root word.

Then, we have a conversation about what part of speech the word is? We talk about it until we have consensus.

Some of the boxes do not apply to all the words, so I skip them.

In defining the word, in the beginning of this process, I take the time to teach/review dictionary skills. I teach students how a dictionary offers (sometimes) more than one definition and for this purpose I want them to pay attention to the first one. Usually, I assign 1-2 students per table to find the word. I have a few read the definition. I write it on the board, and the students transcribe it.

Next, I move on to brainstorming synonyms and antonyms. I start with synonyms because I like to refer back to the definition and I ask them to reread the definition and to look for a synonym.  Once we do that, I ask if they know others. In this case, I refer back to the chapter, "Wilbur's Boast," and ask them about word we learned. In addition, I take the time to take out a thesaurus and have a conversation about how we use it as a resource.

Once we are done with the synonyms I ask them about the antonyms. If they cannot come up with some, then I do list the words for them because this is the area my students need the most support.

After that, I ask the students to give me a sentence with the word. I let them know that we are writing elaborated sentences longer than five words in case they give me simple sentences. In the beginning, I have most of the students write the same sentence. Later on, I let them choose their own sentence--as long as they are writing an elaborated or complex sentence. 

Finally, they are free to illustrate the word. Here are some examples:

A Vocabulary Study 2