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Lesson Plan

Bright Morning: Exploring Character Development in Fiction

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Bright Morning: Exploring Character Development in Fiction

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 40 minutes
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Instruction & Activities


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • read and discuss a work of fiction.

  • analyze the characters of the story.

  • explore the way that the author creates the characters in the piece—by word choice, description, and so forth.

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Instruction & Activities

  1. Give all students copies of Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell. Ask students to read the books on their own to prepare for the class discussion.

  2. Open class discussion by asking, "If you were going to introduce Bright Morning to someone who had never read Sing Down the Moon, what words would you use to describe her?"

  3. As students offer descriptions, write them on an overhead, on the board, or on chart paper.

  4. After about three minutes, ask the students to narrow the list down to six descriptors that will tell the most about Bright Morning. Take nominations from the class.

  5. Have students vote and circle the top six words.

  6. Using the first description on the narrowed-down list, ask the students to find a place in their books that shows that Bright Morning fits the description (for instance, "she didn't give up, even though lots of people would've").

  7. Call on several students to read their selection. Ask each to explain why he or she thinks a particular selection shows Bright Morning fits the description. Point out the techniques that the author is using to create the character as the students share their selections (for instance, through word choice, description, or dialogue).

  8. After you're satisfied that students understand the connection between the descriptor and the supporting passages from the book, turn to individual practice with small-group support.

  9. Divide students into five groups, and assign each group a different description from the shortened list. Ask each student to find two different places in the book that illustrate the particular characteristic of Bright Morning. Have them mark the two places with stick-on notes and then write about the following questions:

    • How does the chosen piece of text show a particular characteristic? Be sure to include the page number your selection is on.

    • Why is that characteristic an important one to have or not to have in their own lives?
    Have students work on their own for several minutes. Monitor student progress by circulating among the students, mentally noting who will need help later. Allow students time to develop their ideas on their own.

  10. Ask students to share their marked places and written ideas with others in their group and to help others in the group who might be having a hard time. Again, monitor progress by circulating among students, but this time stop to help individuals or groups needing support.

  11. After it looks as though everyone has shared ideas and are on the right track, stop the class and ask them to fix up or change anything on their papers that they'd like to. Indicate that they can add on to their old ideas, change them around, or stick to what they had originally.

  12. Collect the papers for later review.

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  • Have students learn more about Scott O'Dell and his work at the Scott O'Dell Homepage.

  • The ReadWriteThink lesson plan Story Character Homepage is a natural extension to this lesson. In groups students look at examples of homepages on the Internet, note what elements most contain, and use them as models to create a homepage for their chosen character.

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  • Collect the papers that students have written and review them later to gauge how individuals progress with their understanding of how an author reveals character. Use the information that you gain to structure further conversations about character. These papers will also tell you how much support certain students will need with their revisiting the text and thinking about their reading.

  • Students can complete the “Character Map” in the Story Map student interactive as a way explore Bright Morning's character. Additionally, the "Conflict Map" and "Resolution Map" can be completed from the perspective of Bright Morning in order to probe the character further. Students can print these maps and submit them for your review. Student responses to the questions in the Interactive should provide an indication of how well students grasp the qualities of the character whom they have explored.

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