Change is inevitable, even for story characters! In this lesson, your students will determine how a character changes throughout a story by focusing on the character’s dialogue and actions.
Students will be able to identify significant actions and dialogue of characters and use these details to make a claim about changes a character has made from the beginning to the end of the text.
Introduction (5 minutes)
- Tell your class a personal story about a time you saw someone make a big change that was easily observed by her actions, or the things she did, and dialogue, or things she said. For example, share a story about a friend who was always scared to play kickball until getting extra coaching by a peer. It was clear there was a change because before the coaching, your friend would make excuses and start to sweat nervously when asked to play, and after the coaching, your smiling friend would invite others to play with her.
- Tell students that, oftentimes, characters change just like real people do. Characters can act one way or believe one thing at the beginning of the story and transform into a different type of person at the end.
- Explain that the way readers know if a character is changing is by reading closely to notice what the character says and/or does throughout the book. Readers should ask themselves: What is the character saying? What is the character doing? What do these details tell me about the character at different points in the story?
Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (10 minutes)
- Read the first half of the book Julius, the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes.
- As you read, jot down on chart paper some of the things Lilly says and does that you find significant. For example, jot down that Lilly says things like, “disgusting!” about her baby brother, and that she tried to teach him his letters and numbers all out of order.
- Use the details from your list to make the claim that Lilly is not the biggest fan of her little brother Julius.
Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (10 minutes)
- After reading the first half of the book, ask the students to think about whether or not Lilly will change. Remind them to pay close attention to what Lilly says and does in the second half of the book to determine their answer.
- As you read the rest of the book, call on students and record what they notice about what Lilly says and/or does.
- After the book has been completed, ask students to turn and talk to someone near them.
- Ask partners to discuss the answers to the following questions: Did Lilly change? How do you know? What did she say and/or do to make you realize that she made a change? Remind students to refer to the details you recorded on the class chart for evidence, or facts that support their claims.
- Review responses from students. You may expect to hear something like: Lilly changed because she likes Julius at the end. I know she liked Julius at the end because she stuck up for him. She listed all the great things about him and even played with him nicely.
- Remind students that whenever they read, they should pay close attention to the things the characters in their books say or do to determine if the character has made a change.
Independent Working Time (30 minutes)
- Show students the Reader’s Response Sheet for this lesson. Model how to fill it out using the content of your class chart.
- Invite students to read independently.
- Hand out the provided Reading Response Sheet for students to record what the character in their book says and/or does in the beginning, middle, and end of their book. Students should make a claim about the character and comment on how the character has changed using the details they have gathered as evidence.
- Allow students who are reading chapter books for independent reading to work on this Reader’s Response Sheet across multiple days. Their characters will most likely be complex and it will take these students longer to determine how the focus character has changed.
- Students should apply this skill in a book on their personal reading level.
- Support: Supply students who are struggling with this concept in their independent reading with a pre-planned text with a character that has evolved in a way that is apparent in their actions and/or dialogue (see recommendations in Related Books and/or Media). Students may also need additional modeling using other familiar text examples.
- Enrichment: Students who are easily able to make claims about the character’s changes using evidence from the text can extend their thinking and consider the events in the text that caused the character to change.
Related Books and/or Media
- The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
- A Bad Road for Cats by Cynthia Rylant
- Ish by Peter H. Reynolds.
Assessment (5 minutes)
- Review the Reader’s Response Sheet to determine if each student can use evidence in the text (what the character says and/or does) to make claims about the character and how the character has changed throughout the story.
Review and Closing (10 minutes)
- After Independent Reading, gather students together to share their work as readers.
- Invite students to tell what they’ve discovered about the characters in their books so far. Who made a claim about their character? What evidence (character actions and dialogue) supports that claim? Who noticed a change in their character? What evidence (character actions and dialogue) supports that idea?