Reflection: Lesson Planning Describe that Character! - Section 2: Instruction


The success of this activity took me by surprise.  In the past, the students have always come to me with a general knowledge of common character traits.  The group of students I have this year did not have that background.

As I walked around to assess them while they were working, I noticed they were listing more descriptions than traits.  I found myself thinking it was maybe just one or two of my struggling students, but as I walked around the classroom, I realized it was the entire group.  So, before they continued with the activity-I had everyone return to their seats.  I realized I need to back up and discuss what character traits were and generate a list BEFORE letting them go on their own. 

So, I started off by displaying the picture of Batman.  I asked "What do we know about Batman?"  I then listed everything we knew about him.  Here are some of the things we listed:

  • He saves people
  • He has a secret identity
  • People depend on him to help
  • He is a hero
  • He is strong 

From that list, I asked the student what each item told us about Batman as a person.  Some of their responses were "He is heroic.  He is mysterious.  He is strong.  He is dependable."  At this point I just wrote the trait on the board. 

So, now, I started to throw out real life people to use to generate more character traits.  I used an artist.  I asked "What do we know about an artist?"  We brainstormed out list on the board.  The students generated the traits of talented, creative, open-minded, and social. 

Next, I decided to use a coach.  I had a lot of students in my class this period who are on traveling sports teams-so I thought it would make a connection.  They were able to generate the traits of strict, organized, athletic, skilled, dedicated, competitive, and friendly. 

Once they had a list and an idea on how to generate traits from the persons actions, thoughts, and words, they were able to complete the activity. 

This was all we were able to get today.  Although we didn't get through everything, I feel as if it was extremely important to spend the time on ensuring they understood what character traits were-before progressing forward. 

The students really loved the characters and had a fun time thinking about familiar faces in terms of character traits.  I did find they were able to defend their reasoning for choosing the trait because of their background knowledge with that character. 

I would definitely do this activity again, I would just start with modeling how to generate a list of character traits. I would also split this lesson up over the course of two or three days depending on the level and abilities of your students. 

  Instruction Reflection
  Lesson Planning: Instruction Reflection
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Describe that Character!

Unit 2: Unit 1: Part II- Analyzing Text
Lesson 1 of 10

Objective: Students define and generate a list of character traits to build prior knowledge.

Big Idea: Using popular characters from movies, TV shows and books, students explore what makes their favorite characters so special and unique!

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