Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Character Essay Brainstorming

In both reading and writing workshops we're digging in deep with character! Our students are really looking analyzing characters in reading workshop and have been tracking changes and recently even described how settings can impact characters! Today, we introduced our new writing piece - the character essay!

In our character essay, students are to select three character traits they feel represent their character through the book and show that the character is complex. Then through evidence prove that these traits paint an accurate portrait of their characters for their book club novels. We started today with some brain storming sessions. We've done so much background work in Reading Workshop with Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching's Interactive Character Analysis Posters plus many other activities! Wish I would have remember to get a photo with all the post-its attached! But I do love these posters! The kids LOVED them too!!!

Just like a regular essay, students will form an opinion based thesis for this essay. Students will create a thesis that focuses on explaining the character in their novels. For this piece, they need to have summarized events from the book, quotes from the text, and cite pages/chapters that support their opinion/thesis statement. Today, we reviewed how to find a page and a passage from the book that support our thinking, We also reviewed how to summarize an event from a novel using Rules as an example.

We started brainstorming using Classroom Workshop's free Character Trait Categories handout! This handout was great because they traits are group with easily recognizable synonyms - although some of the words are not as higher level as Joanne's this handout was great for differentiation and allowed kids to work independently without me having to explain "scrupulous." The back of the handout also had sentence starters for kids who needed help getting started with their evidence statements. We modeled this in class and let our students take their own notes but students needed to use our model or the handout could use it if they needed it.

Students are looking back in books to find evidence! 

My students really got into their books today and even some of my struggling students were able to perform this task at their level! I'm excited to see the traits they choose to tomorrow that offer more evidence as to how their characters have layers! We will also be watching this short clip from Shrek! to remind ourselves that characters like onions are layered and we should be able to tell they are complex. Characters are more than just "nice" in a novel.

Don't forget to link up with Ideas by Jivey and share your opinion writing ideas!


  1. You have been busy! Following you now:)
    My Teacher Friend

  2. These are great ideas! We are working on traits and its hard for my 3rd graders. I need to check out the video. Thanks for sharing. I'm a new follower!

    Third Grade Galore

  3. Thanks for the shout out Amanda! You're so sweet! I'm so glad you and your students are enjoying my Interactive Character Analysis Posters! I love them on the bright colors! (Mine are all black & white). I also like that you push your kids to think critically!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

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