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Using Picture Books to Teach Characterization in Writing Workshop
|Grades||3 – 5|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Two 50-minute sessions|
Students explore the concept of character development through focused experiences with picture books. The class searches the text and illustrations for cues to character development and uses a graphic organizer to complete a structured analysis of character in the picture books. Students then have the opportunity to build bridges from their own experiences as readers to those skills needed as writers by revising their stories to strengthen character development.
Picture Books that Illustrate Well-Developed Characters: This booklist offers a list of picture books that feature well-developed characters.
Three Elements of Characterization: This reproducible handout describes three elements of characterization: physical appearance; actional speech, and behavior; and interactions with others. Also included are definitions of protagonist, antagonist, dialogue, and stereotype.
Story Map: Use this online tool to analyze a story's characters, plots, and settings. The tool can also be used to map out the elements of a student's original story.
This lesson uses picture books to demonstrate how writers develop strong, interesting characters. When they are exposed to multiple texts that illustrate effective writing, students naturally begin to think about how that the techniques can be applied to their own writing. By modeling the process of reading like writers, teachers demonstrate the kind of thinking that will help students improve their own literacy skills. As Katie Wood Ray states, "the inquiry structures in writing workshops do simply this-they slow down and make more deliberate the reading like writers that happens vicariously when any writer reads. Slowing down lets writers apprentice themselves very deliberately to other writers" (16).
Ray, Katie Wood. 1999. Wondrous Words: Writers and Writing in the Elementary Classroom. Urbana, IL: NCTE.