Authoring an Epilogue That Helps Our Characters Live On
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- Instructional Plan |
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This lesson will teach how characters evolve across a story, and that often times the important changes are subtle. This lesson uses accountable-talk during a read aloud of One Green Apple by Eve Bunting to demonstrate how, as readers, students can use the traits of their character as a lens through which to interpret deeper, more significant changes stirring within. They will ultimately use those observations about their characters to author an epilogue for their books. The epilogue will allow students to demonstrate what they have learned about their main character, and it will allow the teacher to assess how well the students understand their characters and the changes their characters experienced across the text.
From Theory to Practice
In this article, Fisher explains the importance of using specific adjectives to describe characters in order to better understand them. Fisher describes adjectives as tools writers use to bring characters to life for the reader. When students begin to notice static and dynamic characters they can then begin to think about what causes characters to change across a text. Additionally, the author also emphasizes that not every adjective fits the character and that students need to find evidence in the text to support their inferences, thus encouraging close reading of the text.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- An overhead projector, LCD projector, interactive whiteboard, or chart paper
This website features some of Eve Bunting's popular picture books with accompanying activities and resources that support children's understanding of the books themselves.
The video on this website shows an interview of Eve Bunting in which she explains how she goes through the writing process, shares some of her personal history, and gives some background on her beloved children's books. There are additional resources for parents and educators that support many areas in reading.
On this website there are examples of student artwork based primarily on the human form. The "All About Me" collages feature cutouts the artist made to depict him or herself in the center with adjectives that describe him or her encircling the cutout.
- Read and familiarize yourself with One Green Apple before you read it to the students. You will need to have a good understanding of the plot and the main character in order to teach students how the character changes across the story.
- Make copies of the handouts for the students: Character Trait Printout and Epilogue Template.
- Write an epilogue for One Green Apple as an example for students.
- Review the Epilogue Rubric to familiarize yourself with the expectations of this lesson. You will later use the rubric to assess the students’ epilogues.
- learn to infer character traits within a text.
- list the ways a character changes across a text.
- write an epilogue that reflects their inferences about the story and the characters.
- Gather the students in the meeting area before beginning the lesson. Introduce the lesson by saying something like, “Readers, much like bird watchers, spend time carefully observing the world around us. As readers we know there are things the author tells us and there are other things we have to name for ourselves—things the author isn’t coming out and saying. One way we can be better observers and readers, is to pause and notice ways our characters are acting and jot down words that describe our main character. When we do that, we are inferring.”
- Read One Green Apple aloud to the students. While reading, ask students to make observations about the main character’s feelings. You might say, “What do her thoughts tell us about how she is feeling?” or, “Looking at her facial expression, how do you think she is feeling right now?” Direct students to the pictures and words to help them make their inferences.
- Write their observations about the main character on the Character Trait Printout (which should be projected on an overhead, LCD projector, or SmartBoard screen for all students to see.)
- After finishing the book, pass out copies of the Character Trait Printout and have students jot down words they would use to describe the main character in One Green Apple. Encourage them to work with a partner while discussing the text and recording adjectives about the main character. Alternatively, you might want to guide students in tracing a human outline on their own instead of giving them pre-copied outlines. Having them draw their own version of the Character Trait Handout might be more engaging for them.
- Point out to students how it took Farah, the main character, the entire story to finally say one word aloud. Ask the students why they think it took her so long. Have them share their ideas with the class. Offer the suggestion that the action of saying one word seems to be a very significant change for the character.
- Let students discuss what that small action might reveal about how the character is changing. If they do not mention the following inferences, suggest that maybe the character is now feeling comfortable enough to say something, feeling strong enough to speak aloud, or wanting to fit into the new culture.
- Ask some students to write the words they used to describe Farah at the end of the book. Have them write directly onto the Character Trait Printout you used earlier in this lesson.
- Then, use the Story Map to record more character observations about the main character in One Green Apple. The graphic organizer will allow students to record more thoughts about characters in their own books, and they can add to this organizer as they read during the workshop time.
- Next, link the work done in this lesson with the work students might choose to do when they read their independent books.
- Explain how sometimes big changes start small and that they develop slowly across a text. Connect to the previous lesson’s work by saying something like, “Yesterday we learned that readers are careful observers. Readers pay attention to the ways our characters act and jot down our thoughts as we read.”
- Suggest that readers can make bigger inferences by noticing ways characters change across a text. You might say something like, “One way that readers can study character changes is by finding a word that best describes the character in the beginning of the book and a word that best describes the character at the end of the book.” Ask students which words they would use from the previous lesson’s Character Trait Printout. Have students discuss with each other which words they think work best.
- If students have difficulty selecting words help them look through the book to remember how the character behaved throughout the text. While doing this, you might give them a prompt like, “In the beginning Farah was mostly… but in the end she was…” Then say, “This is making me think that my character…”
- Then, help students compare the two character traits and, in doing so, show students how to notice changes in the character across the text. Project your Character Trait Printout on the overhead, LCD projector, or SmartBoard for students to see during the discussion. You might begin this discussion by saying something such as, “As readers, we don’t just pay attention to a character’s behavior, we can do more powerful work by thinking about and describing the way characters change from the beginning to end of the book.”
- Link the work done during this lesson to the work the students might do in their own independent reading. You might say something like, “When you read your own books during reading workshop, remember that you can compare the way your character acts near the end of the book with how the character acted in the beginning. These observations will help you understand the ways in which your characters have changed and growth over the course of the text.”
- Begin this lesson by explaining how readers form a close bond with our characters and that when a book in finished the characters are still in our minds and hearts.
- Ask students to brainstorm ways they have bonded with characters in books they’ve read. You might want to obtain copies of the books listed on Picture Books that Illustrate Well-Developed Characters from ReadWriteThink.org. Ask a few students to share their experiences with the class.
- Then, say something such as, “One way that readers can watch out for our characters and help them live on long after the book has ended is by authoring an epilogue.” Ask students if they know what an epilogue is and what its function is in a book. If they are unsure, say that an epilogue is kind of like a sequel that says what the character went on to do and how things turned out for him or her.
- Teach students the steps students can take to write an epilogue for a book they’ve read on their own. Explain that they should: 1) reread/ skim their independent book, 2) discuss how the character changed by the end of the book, and then 3) write about what the character went on to do in the future. Remind students that a well-written epilogue takes into account how the character would have changed and behaved based on what the reader knows about the character.
- Share the Epilogue Rubric with the students and share with them how their projects will be assessed. Allow time for students' questions about the rubric or assessment of their epilogues.
- Engage the students in writing an epilogue for One Green Apple as a class before having them write an epilogue for their independent book. Use the Example Epilogue for One Green Apple that was prepared for this lesson to help guide your work with the students if they have difficulty co-writing one with you. This work should be written for all of the students to see—either on a chart or on the overhead.
- Read the epilogue over to the class. Ask the students to point out places in the epilogue you all just wrote for One Green Apple that show how you were all about to predict how the main character lives on.
- Give each student an Epilogue Template to craft their own epilogue for their own book of choice. The teacher will remind the students to write about the character based on how the character behaved by the end of the book.
- Have students share their epilogues with their classmates through short oral presentations, a gallery walk, or a similar sharing situation.
Have students write a story about their own lives that changed them. The story could be about a life lesson they learned, how they learned it, and how they are different as a result. The story might also be one that shows how they struggled to meet a goal and will be forever altered because of their efforts.
Have students illustrate important scenes from a book they have read. One scene would be an early one in the book and the second drawing would be of the character after the character changed in an important way. These before and after drawings might help students think about the character's point of view as well as how the character changed throughout the book.
- Askstudents to draw human outlines on white paper and glue them onto 8x10 watercolor paper they have already painted on. Once they adhere the body outline onto the paper they have already watercolored and let dry, they can write words on the human cut-out that they would use to describe themselves.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- The teacher can assess the students’ epilogues by using the Epilogue Rubric. The rubric explains what makes the written response a Level 1-4, with Level 4 being the highest level. The rubric takes into account whether or not the student included realistic future events for the main character in their book.
- The teacher can asses the students’ abilities to make character inferences by talking with the students about their Character Trait Printout. The teacher can ask questions such as, “Why did you include this adjective about your character? What made you think that? How have you noticed your character changing across the book?”