Saturday, October 11, 2014

It's All About Character

I feel like I'm pulling out of a rut. I like this feeling in October. I'm so happy to report that a few mornings have been crisp, cool, and dry enough for straight hair. I mean, is there a better register indicating fall than frizz-free hair? It reminds me that the nights will be cooler, and the darkness will set in earlier, inspiring me to create new things for my students for the remainder of the year and the beginning of next year.

We are currently working on character traits and comparing and contrasting features in text in 5th grade ESOL reading. For scaffolding purposes, I thought that short passages would work best for the students, so I created this packet with short reading passages that introduce students to 10 different characters. The goal is to have students focus on character trait descriptions rather than appearance descriptions. Using character trait word banks (and for my entering and developing students a translation of character traits list), I have students read the short stories aloud and brainstorm as partners or a small group what character traits describe the character. Sometimes I add my input to model more challenging vocabulary. Answers must be based on characters interactions, feelings, and words.

Once we've read and written directly on the story with a Vis-a-Vis markers, which I've laminated for repeated use, I ask the students to come up with a way to sort the characters. They are in charge of coming up with their own way to sort - good/bad, boy/girl, young/old, etc. 
After the sorting exercise, each student draws two cards from the deck of character cards. On the constructed response sheet, the student lists the two characters they chose. They can either copy the character traits or try to come up with new ones. The question asked of them is "Would these two characters get along? Why or why not? Explain your answer and be sure to cite examples from the text." I preface their responses by leading them to think about how the characters would act if the two characters were in a new setting like a party or the store. 
I was amazed that my two students really grasped the concept and enjoyed thinking beyond the obvious when listing the character traits. For every character trait they chose, I would ask them to tell me why they chose it.

Enjoy the photos. I felt it was a triumphant lesson, and we had lots of fun. Even my student that NEVER speaks participated heavily today and even smiled a few times. Win!!!

If you like this lesson, please hop on over to Teachers Pay Teachers for the complete packet, including anchor charts, character stories and cards, and the constructed answer sheet. It's very easily adapted for all levels, especially with an adjusted amount of scaffolding. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.


  1. Hi Felicia,

    I nominated you for the Liebster award. Check out my blog on how to accept =)

    A LoveLi Class

  2. What an honor, Kristin! Thank you!!