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Charlotte is Wise, Patient, and Caring: Adjectives and Character Traits
|Grades||3 – 5|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Four 45-minute sessions|
Students explore adjectives through a read-aloud and develop a working definition of the term. They list as many adjectives as they can, then combine them with "to be" verbs to create simple sentences. Next, they are introduced to character traits by putting the adjectives from their list in the context of a character from a shared reading. They then use an online chart to equate the character traits with specific actions the character takes. Finally, students "become" one of the major characters in a book and describe themselves and other characters, using Internet reference tools to compile lists of accurate, powerful adjectives supported with details from the reading. Students read each other's lists of adjectives and try to identify who is being described.
The lesson uses Charlotte's Web as an example, but this activity is effective with any work of literature in which characterization is important.
Character Traits Chart Student Interactive: This online tool provides student with a chart for recording a selected character's actions and character traits.
Character analysis represents one of the most common assignments given in language arts classes. A successful character analysis demands that students infer abstract traits and values from literal details contained in a text. This lesson plan not only asks students to infer those traits but also to show that knowledge by applying the traits as they create their own list from the character's perspective. By adopting the traits of a main character, students must "show" their understanding of that character's main features, rather than simply "telling" with a list of traits.
Additionally, the lesson plan provides an opportunity for students to explore the supporting reasons for the traits they have chosen, especially in the context of commonalities among the lists compiled by the class. Even when students can confidently formulate appropriate traits, they often find it hard to connect specific details to their inferences. This process of creating lists and then discussing them as a class gives students practice in connecting detail to inference.
This lesson plan was adapted from: Forsyth, John. 1995. "Through Characters' Eyes," Teaching Literature in High School: The Novel. pp. 16-17. Urbana, IL: NCTE.