Characters are Grown

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SWBAT analyze complex text for characterization by citing the text explicitly.

Big Idea

The students will read a novel in a day to analyze for character traits!

Advanced Organizer

7 minutes

I am going to have the students open to the next blank page in their journals and have them answer the questions on the slide.  I want to get the students to start thinking about the concept of community and neighborhoods because it is a driving theme in our first novel Seedfolks.  This is the story of a neighborhood torn apart by poverty and transcendence to a community filled with pride and opportunity.  This story is a great novel to start the year with because of the theme of community.  In sixth grade, the students are in a new building with many new faces and that sense of community and safety they felt at their elementary schools is no longer there.  They can connect with the isolation the characters feel.  As the neighborhood in the novel comes together for a common purpose, the characters see the strengths in each person.  They rely on each other and turn themselves into a community.  It is a great model for what we want to cultivate within our classrooms. 

The story is set up in vignettes; each character having his or her own chapter.  I like to introduce the novel when I teach characterization because the novel is heavily based on many characters.  It is a great use of the novel, but also lets us get personal with a character before we actually read the story. 

The novel can be tricky because it is not one consistent story line.  We see the garden come together through the eyes of the character as it is happening for them.  We get the different perspectives of each character and how this garden is affecting his or her life. 

This novel is an excellent resource to teach characterization, point of view, theme, as well as review conflict and plot.  Once we finish the entire novel, each student writes his or her own vignette to add to the novel. 

I have the students record their thoughts to the questions posed on the power point, then give them a chance to pair/share.  I will also then ask them to share as a class.  It is always nice to give the students a chance to share their thoughts and hear the thoughts of other students.  Every student brings a variety of background knowledge and experiences that others can learn from and apply. 


Review of Concept

15 minutes

Over the past few days we have worked with characterization.  The students have practiced identifying character traits through the author's use of text.  They have identified traits based on the character's words, actions, thoughts, feelings, and choices.  They have used characters from stories we have read and discussed explicitly.  Now, I would like the students to move to the next level and apply the skill while reading new material. 

I will pair the students based on ability.  I have used data we have collected through a variety of state, local, and district assessments to place them with a partner who is reading at their level.  This will allow each student to be challenged and not frustrated.  Each pair will be responsible for reading their assigned characters' chapter from the novel Seedfolks.  They will only read their chapter and answer the questions on the Seedfolks Character Analysis handout about THEIR ASSIGNED character.  This allows the students to focus just on that character and get to know them at a much more personal level.  I have given each group of students a characters' chapter that is fitting to their reading level. I want the students to feel success with the story.  Some chapters have concepts that are more mature than others.  I take all of this into consideration when pairing the students and chapters up. 

Once they have their assigned reading chapter and handout, I will give them time to read.  I will instruct them to read the story aloud-stopping to mark the text using Beginning Annotations.  This will allow the students the chance to practice the skills of annotating the text. They will read the chapter and answer the questions.  I will walk around and monitor their progress.  I will stop to work the students who are not marking the text.  I will make sure they understand the importance of marking the text.  I will make sure they understand how to mark the text, what text to mark, and how to identify what text is important. This is important because although the task of marking the text can be tedious, it is still a skill the students need to have to deal with the complex text we are going to expose the students to with the implementation of common core. 

This part of the day is always my favorite part. I love to listen in on the conversations the students are having with one another.  To hear their thoughts and ideas allows me to get into their brains to see how a 6th grader really thinks.  This helps me when I'm planning lessons and looking for ways to make the learning engaging and meaningful.  I will often find myself getting lost in conversation with them and even forgetting where I am at! Sometimes I feel like I have more in depth, meaningful conversations with the students than I do adults. 

I will also stop in more frequently with my lowest group to ensure comprehension of the text.  I did give them the shortest, easiest chapter, but they still may need some guidance. 

Independent Practice

10 minutes

Once the students have read the chapter on the character, I will pass out the characterization Handout we have used before.  They are familiar with filling it out and the format.  I like this handout because it breaks apart the character traits and allows the students to see the many avenues author's take to develop a character. 

Once I pass the handout to each student, I will have them work with their partner to complete it.  I will allow them to complete it with their shoulder partner, because we are working in homogeneous groups.  They are working with someone with about the same skills they have.  I will get an accurate assessment of their ability. 


I will work with my struggling learners in small group.  I have an aide in my classes, so I have her monitor the students on-task behavior while I work with my struggling learners.  Some students will need help identifying the text, but will be able to tell  me what it demonstrates about the character. Once I model this a couple of times, I will have them try it on their own.  The goal is for them to be able to master the skill on their own, some students just need a little boost while getting there.  

Once the students have completed the handout, I will have them turn it to assess. 


7 minutes

I will have the students work to answer the essential question, I do this because it helps us remember the purpose of today's lesson.  Today's essential question is "How can author's develop character traits and how can those traits help to drive the plot?"  

I will have the students respond in their journal.  They are able to process their thoughts and think about the lesson.  It is important to bring closure to your lesson so the students are able process the information and feel a sense of completion with the day's work.  I really find taking those three minutes every day to bring closure allows us to reflect on our learning, and identify any areas we need to revisit.  This helps me with lesson development and reteaching.