To set the stage for a discussion on character traits I chose this prompt for students to respond to in their journals:
“I have chosen Maroo as leader because she is the elder and also because I can trust her to be sensible and cautious.” Old Mother said, “The mountain is dangerous. You must cross it softly and quickly, like the hare on new snow, before it feels that you are there.” (p. 90)
How will the qualities of being sensible and cautious help Maroo on their journey? Provide evidence and an explanation as to why Old Mother selected Maroo as the leader of the expedition.
The students dive into the writing and spend 8-10 minutes concentrating on their responses. When done, they are eager to share and offer many examples of Maroo’s ability to handle herself responsibly and independently.
Determining character traits is a comprehension skill that requires inferencing. The reader must pay attention to a character’s actions and the dialogue in order to uncover his or her personality and traits. How that person interacts with others and reacts to plot events shapes the story’s outcome. In a class discussion we come up with a list of how to determine character traits. They appear on this chart.
Students apply this skill while analyzing two of the novel’s main characters: Maroo and her brother, Otak. They also choose any two other characters to analyze. This activity is completed with a partner and then they present and compare the results with others in their literature circle group.
Students come to class prepared to share their insights on the main events in chapters 8 and 9 with others in their literature circle group. They share notes from completed literature circle role sheets and complete the literature circle participation sheet for these chapters. Having gained experience in the process they move through the activities with ease. The class comes to an end with a general sharing of the chapters main events.