4.1.3.3 Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story
or drama, drawing on specific details in the text(e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

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My fourth grade students were partnered and assigned the text “The Stranger” by Chris Van Allburg from our Houghton Mifflin anthology.  I projected a character trait and its opposite on the Promethean Board (this is a Google file but you can download as a flipchart if you use Active Inspire) and asked the students which trait the main character (the Stranger) demonstrated in the story on particular page. Students then had to search the text on the page to find where the author provided explicit or implicit details and examples.

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Students then place themselves on the side with the trait they found evidence for in the text. I then asked students to share the evidence the author had provided with the class. They repeated the task three additional times for other character traits.  All students were successful at identifying the evidence although the students sometimes identified different sentences or phrases on the page.

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The following day the students completed a similar task with the story “Tomas and the Library Lady” by Pat Mora (again in our HM anthology). I chose three character traits for the library lady “kind or mean”, “friendly or unfriendly”, and “helpful or unhelpful” and asked the students to find evidence in the text for each pair.  This time I asked the students to record the words, phrases, or sentences from the text on a piece of paper I provided.  Again, all of the students were successful at identifying the evidence from the text to support idea.

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All in all, I thought this was an effective way to introduce the concept of close reading to describe a character in depth. I will continue to ask students to practice this skill but will begin to pull away some of the scaffolding I provided in these two lessons. Students will determine their own character traits and provide evidence from the text.

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About Terry F Erickson

I am a fourth grade teacher in Edina, Minnesota, USA.

2 responses »

  1. jen says:

    Stealing this! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Terry!

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