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It’s All in the Personality: Character Traits
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Students will be able to identify character traits by using text evidence and write a small paragraph analysis about a character in a story.
- Read The Little Red Hen as a whole group.
- Ask students to think of words that describe the Little Red Hen. Write these words on the board.
- Tell students that these words are called character traits.
- Show students the Character Traits chart, read the definition, and discuss how these traits are important whenever you want to analyze, or describe, a character in a story by using evidence from the text.
- Provide and post the definition of the following words, along with an image if applicable, in L1 and English, for students to refer to throughout the lesson: "character," "character traits," "personality," "describe," "adjective."
- Allow ELs to listen to the interactive story The Little Red Hen on a computer or tablet prior to the lesson if time permits.
- Provide another example of a well-known story's characters, such as Cinderella, during the class discussion to give ELs a more concrete understanding of the topic.
- For Spanish speaking ELs, write the cognates for many of the descriptive adjectives from the story (honest = honesto, responsible = responsable).
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(15 minutes)
- Inform students that rarely an author will come out and say a character is cheerful or proud. Instead, the reader must discover it by analyzing a character's actions and dialogue.
- After a brief discussion, display the Split Mind graphic organizer by drawing it on the board or displaying it with a projector or interactive whiteboard.
- Using another character from the story, model how to fill in the graphic organizer by drawing a picture that represents a character at the beginning and then at the end of the story. Remember to draw pictures that describe the character's actions, physical traits, or words they used.
- Write evidence from the story to justify your drawings. Then write 3–5 sentences that describe your character using the symbols or drawings you made along with evidence from the text.
- Provide students with bilingual dictionaries or glossaries to look up unknown words during this part of the lesson. Words to include are: "analyze," "action," "dialogue," "explore."
- Have students rephrase the directions of the sorting activity to a partner before starting the task.
- Provide a word bank of character traits for students to refer to, with an image or symbol to match (lazy, kind, polite, brave, rude, mean, etc.). Choose from these as you model your thinking aloud when you complete the Split Mind graphic organizer.
Guided Practice(10 minutes)
- Ask for volunteers to draw other pictures that represent a character's actions, thoughts, or dialogue in the story and have them show where they find evidence in the text to support the drawing.
- Next, as a whole class, write 3–5 sentences that describe your character using the symbols or drawings that you did along with evidence from text.
- Place students into meaningful partnerships (ELs and non-ELs), and have them discuss the character's traits and search for text evidence before writing the sentences in a whole group.
- Clarify any challenging vocabulary words from the Split Mind graphic organizer and provide definitions in L1 and in English.
- Provide this sentence frame to help students search for text evidence to support their character trait claims: "When the text says ____, I can tell the character is ____."
Independent working time(25 minutes)
- Tell students that in this activity they will be working with their group to analyze a character and find out who they are in the inside, or to find their character traits, and to fill out a Split Mind organizer about that character.
- Review any new vocabulary words they will encounter in the story that might be hard for them to read.
- Tell students that as they read the story they must underline words and actions that might give them an idea of the personality of the character, as this is the evidence they will use to support their symbols or drawings.
- Organize your students into groups of two or three and provide a copy of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and a graphic organizer.
- Tell students that they should read the story as a whole group and everyone in the team is responsible for a drawing. As a team, they should come up with 3–5 sentences that will describe the character using their drawings and evidence.
- Read aloud the story The Boy Who Cried Wolf to a small group of ELs, pointing out and defining key vocabulary.
- Underline parts of the text that indicate evidence of a character's traits.
- Ensure students have access to the word bank of character traits, along with images and definitions and the sentence starters from the previous section.
- Allow ELs to write their responses using bilingual dictionaries if applicable.
- Provide more time for students to complete the writing task.
- For students that need extra help, give them a story that has the character's traits underlined and have them come up with their own drawings or symbols and write sentences that explain why they drew what they did and what they represent about the character.
- For students in need of a greater challenge, have them support their writing by giving their opinions about how a character changes from the beginning to the end of a story and how this might affect other characters or outcomes in the story.
- Give students another short story like The Princess and the Pea and have them fill out a graphic organizer on their own.
- Define and provide examples for any challenging words in The Princess and the Pea.
- Provide a partially completed graphic organizer for learners to complete as an assessment.
- Pair ELs strategically and allow them to do the assessment together.
Review and closing(5 minutes)
- Remind students what character traits are by creating an anchor chart.
- Have students share with a partner about their graphic organizers.
- Draw visuals and symbols on the anchor chart that help ELs understand the concept of character traits.
- Pair students with another EL that speaks the same home language and allow them to discuss the character traits in their L1.
- Provide the following sentence stems to help students discuss character traits with their partner: "At the beginning of the story, the character was ____, but at the end he/she was ____. This character's traits are ____ and ____ because the text shows ____."