The lessons housed within this unit all provide practice on specific skills or strategies. Some lessons were written to see what students remember and/or can do at the beginning of the year. Others were used to re-teach groups of students who hadn’t quite mastered the chosen skill when it was first introduced. Still others were designed to give students meaningful practice while I conducted required testing.
All lessons used texts that were familiar or easily decodable so that students’ energies were spent on skill practice rather than trying to just make sense of the text itself. Many lessons include reproducibles that were made with graphics from Kevin and Amanda’s Fonts, Teaching in a Small Town, and Melonheadz Illustrating.
As stated in the unit introduction, this lesson was written to address a specific issue that appeared in students’ work. In this case, students struggled with character. For some reason this year, this concept has been incredibly difficult. In years prior, the concept of characters, their descriptions, and traits have come very easily to students.
Throughout the week, we’ve been working on this topic using several texts and strategies. Today I’d like to try an exercise that first asks students to describe themselves before describing a character.
Students pull out their book boxes and pencils while I pass out their work pages. I explain that today they will complete a short assessment that will tell me how well they’re grasping what we’re learning about character. During their independent reading time, they will complete this page using their independent fiction texts.
The sheet has two sides. On the front, they will describe themselves. In order to make a connection between what they already know and learning something new, we’re going to think of how we would describe ourselves before moving on to a character. So first, you will describe yourself physically. Be as specific as possible. Pretend that I’ve never seen you before and can’t see you now. Next, think of a trait that fits you as a person. Then, support your trait with an example of something you do that proves this trait is a good fit for you.
Now for the character. On the backside of this page, you will choose a character from your independent text and write his or her name at the top. Next you will write a complete physical description of the character just as you did for yourself. Third, assign the character a character trait and support it with evidence from your text. Because this is an assessment, I will not be around to help you complete it once we begin. However, remember that you do have a list of character traits in your binders that you can use if you’re struggling to find just the right word.
I ask if there are questions and answer them before setting students to work.
Students collect their book boxes, binders, and pencils and find the perfect spots to read. They have approximately twenty-five minutes to read independently while completing their work using a book of their choice.
When students have completed their assessments, they will turn them in to the tray and then continue reading their texts. As they do so, students are expected to update their reading logs and complete at least one “thinking note” aligned to today’s concept. During this time, I conduct individual or small group reading conferences.