Introduction Student Teacher Heather Niedfeldt Cooperating Teacher Mrs. Ashlee Rickert School


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Teacher Work Sample – Electronic Submission Document


Student Teacher Heather Niedfeldt

Cooperating Teacher Mrs. Ashlee Rickert

School Utica Centennial Public High School
Context of Teaching

For this project, I will be leading 10th grade English students through the characterization unit (Unit II) in their literature textbooks. I have three separate class periods involving sophomores; therefore, I will receive sufficient time and opportunities to practice, process, reflect, and modify when needed.

Many of the students are proficient in their abilities as learners; they tend to speak up if they have questions, contribute ideas to discussion, and have good attitudes when assignments are given. They follow the classroom rules and show respect to others. However, there are a few specific students who will need special attention. In fifth period, Layne struggles with ADHD and likes to discuss things off-topic. He does well when guided in individual work time. Shaughnessy is another student in fifth period that will need help in self-motivation because she tends to have trouble starting projects. In sixth period, Brianna is assisted by a paraeducator because she struggles with reading and critically thinking on her own. I predict that she will need help with brainstorming ideas in assignments. In seventh period, the students are a little chatty, so they will need more attention when keeping them on track.

This last school year, the English department at Utica received new textbooks for their classes. Because of this, they are focusing on using the textbook as much as they can in teaching their students. I plan to incorporate the short stories and poetry that are included in the text, but I will also incorporate my own activities and reading materials related to the texts to enhance diverse learning techniques as well as making it my own.

Understanding by Design: Stage 1 – Identify Desired Results

Established Goals:

LA 12.1.6.l (Nebraska Language Arts Standards)

“Comprehension: Students will extract and construct meaning using prior knowledge, applying text information, and monitoring comprehension while reading grade level text.”
More specifically:
LA 12.1.6.a “Evaluate the meaning, reliability, and validity of the text considering author’s purpose, perspective, and information from additional sources.”

LA 12.1.6.b “Analyze and evaluate narrative text (in this unit, specifically characterization).”

LA 12.1.6.g “Analyze, evaluate, and make inferences based on the characteristics of the narrative and informational genres and provide evidence from the text to support understanding.”

What understandings are desired?

Students will understand that…

-In order to understand characters, one must be able to analyze characterization (traits of a character) in literature.

-Selections of literature develop through the movement of the characters.

-Literature can teach us important insights into human nature.


-Character development allows readers to see the more significant characters in selections.

-The more we infer or conclude in a story, the more we are able to make educated guesses about character traits based off of our own human experiences.

What essential questions will be considered?


-Why study characterization?

-Why study characterization in different forms of literature (fiction, nonfiction, poetry)?

-Why is making inferences through reading important?

-How does a character’s motivation influence the story’s plot?


-What types of details about characters should be considered in a story when making conclusions about characterization?

-What are round and flat characters?

-What are static and dynamic characters?

-In each reading selection, what is the main character’s motivation(s)?

-In making inferences, what types of circumstances from real life can we personally connect to the literature?

What key knowledge and skills will students acquire as a result of this unit?

Students will know. . .

-what character traits are involved in character development.

-the importance of knowing a character’s motivation.

-the difference between round and flat characters.

-the difference between static and dynamic characters.

-the relationship between plot and characters

Students will be able to. . .

-relate or reiterate the importance and value of reading literature to enhance one’s knowledge in constructing meaning and monitoring comprehension.

-explain how characters are developed.

-make inferences and use them to better understand the characters.

-connect (relate) to situations that characters may face.

-identify the author’s perspective in a nonfiction or poetic selection.

-construct a feasible demonstration of what shapes a character through a character study report.

Background Knowledge Probe



Before we dive into Unit II, how much do we know? Let’s find out!

  1. What is characterization?

  1. What is the difference between direct and indirect characterization?

  1. Give three characteristics of a round character.

  1. Give three characteristics of a flat character.

  1. A ______________________ character changes in a story (evolves and learns).

  1. A ______________________ character remains the same in a story (unchanged).

  1. What do you think making inferences means?

  1. How can a reader find the character’s motivation in a story? What things would you look at?

  1. How can a reader determine the author’s perspective in a story? What clues would you look at?

Data received after conducting the pre-assessment:

The pie chart above depicts the results of the pre-assessment that the students took. The background knowledge probe worksheet was out of a possible eighteen points. The numbers in the sections of the pie chart highlight the number of students corresponding with the score (note the legend) they received. The highest score received was a 12/18, making the highest score percentage a 67%.

If we calculate the largest areas of the chart, most of the students scored below 39% (7/18). From these results, we can gather that a greater amount of the sophomore class (89%) received a score below a 39% on their pre-assessment, while 11% received a score above a 39%.

From the information that I received, I was able to conclude that over one third of my students understood the characterization unit’s vocabulary terms that were included on the background knowledge probe (due to their work with the L to J Consulting program that Utica Centennial has implemented school-wide). While they understood them, however, they were unable to connect and apply them to the questions pertaining to the concepts of the chapter that we will be studying. They could define them; they could not explain differences, list characteristics, and determine clues as to how to find those concepts. Some students were able to make assumptions about what the questions were asking, which showed that they are able to use past knowledge to infer and break down what the questions asked of them.

It was difficult to see students (Caleb, Layne, Cory, Roger) hand in the pre-assessment with many of the questions left unanswered. Either they truly didn’t know the answers or they failed to attempt to try to answer them. It was interesting to see how some of the students (Keelan and Tanner) knew more than I predicted; it was also interesting to see that some of my more advanced students (Hunter, Cacey, Emma) scored average on the pre-assessment. This is encouraging to me as a teacher because I am able to predict a future growth in their learning.

Because students were able to define many of the definitions involved with the chapter after basic review from their L to J, I spent less time explaining the vocabulary; however, I still spent a good amount of time explaining the concepts and methods associated with those terms so that they were able to understand the full capacity of comprehensive applicable techniques involving the terms.

Understanding by Design: Stage 2 – Determine Acceptable Evidence

What evidence will show that students understand?

Performance Tasks* (summary in GRASPS form):
Facebook Page: Character Presentation


  • I want students to be able to apply the information they learned from Unit II regarding direct and indirect characterization methods, using a variety of characteristic traits they have analyzed and recorded about a specific character and presenting that information in a facebook profile page template.


  • Students will choose a character from Shoofly Pie, The Possibility of Evil, A Celebration of Grandfathers, or a main character from their 3rd quarter chosen classic novel.

  • Students will be able to present their understanding of their individually chosen character through their portrayal (profile) of characteristics.


  • The audience of the assignment will be the students in class and the teacher.


  • Students will be assigned the task halfway through the unit in order to give ample amount of time to choose/research a character. They will be given a half-period of class time to work on the product; the rest of the task will be expected to be finished outside of class.
  • While researching the character, students will note different character traits that are described by the author through direct and indirect characterization. Such elements to analyze about the chosen character are physical traits, personal interests, thoughts, emotions, opinions, and relationships with other characters in the story.

  • This situation will also benefit students by allowing them to look at and connect character statuses, behaviors, and situations with their own experiences.


  • On the final day of the unit, each student will hand in their Facebook Page: Character Presentation final assignment. The profile pages will meet the criteria included on the rubric.

  • Students may be asked to share their product with another classmate in order to reflect on their individual work.


  • Students will be evaluated on: timeliness of finished work, met criteria on rubric (included below), a reflection of creativity, and appropriate evaluation of individual students’ abilities.

Performance Task Instructions and Rubric following:
Facebook: Character Presentation

How’s it going? What’s on your mind? How are you feeling? What’s going on?

Create a Facebook page for your character.

  • For this assignment, choose one of the characters from Shoofly Pie, The Possibility of Evil, A Celebration of Grandfathers, OR a main character from your chosen classic novel for this semester. Your facebook page will give a profile of this character.

  • Using the given worksheet template, you will include information that reflects various aspects of your character, presenting his/her characteristic traits through direct and indirect characterization methods.

  • The information will be presented as if the character is sharing the facts and posts.

  • Include the following information through your facebook page:
    • Character Name” – Make sure you say who your character is! (2 pts.)

    • Photo” – A photo that depicts your character can either be hand-drawn or feel free to paste a picture from a magazine or other source. (2 pts.)

    • About Me” section – Share at least three facts in this box. It can be about family, occupation, fun facts they want to share, etc. (6 pts.)

    • Liked Pages” section – List three interests you think they’d have (movies, music, favorite animal, hobbies, etc.). (3 pts.)

    • Hometown” section – Record the story title
      and author of the character. (2 pts.)

    • Status Updates”Include three status updates from your character. This can help show the character’s speech, thoughts, emotions, opinions, etc. about what is going on in the story. (9 pts.)

    • Wall Post” – Include one wall post from another character in the story which should either comment or highlight a behavior of your character. (3 pts.)

    • Event Attended” – Share one event your character did or would attend in the story. Describe the event. What was it for? (3 pts.)

  • Possible Points: 30 pts.

  • Feel free to get creative; make sure it truly reflects your character!

Name_______________________________'>Facebook: Character Presentation Rubric


Character Name

  • Character name is clearly stated at the top of the facebook page.

____/ 2 pts.


  • In the box given, some type of image is included to help display their character visually.

____/ 2 pts.

About Me” section

  • Three distinct facts are shared about the character.

(This can pertain to family, occupation, fun facts, etc. but should be in an attempt to enhance character portrayal.)

  • Each fact is worth two points.

____/ 6 pts.

Liked Pages” section

  • Three interests of the character are presented.

(Movies, music, favorite things, hobbies, etc.)

Students should feel free to be creative in this section. They can pull from the story or present how they see the character.

  • Each interest listed is worth one point.

____/ 3 pts.

Hometown Information

  • Story or novel title included.

  • Author name included.

____/ 2 pts.

Status Updates
  • Three status updates included from the character.

(Helps show speech, thoughts, emotions, opinions, etc.)

References should pertain to the story that the character is involved in.

  • Each status update is worth three points.

____/ 9 pts.

Wall Post

  • One wall post from another character in their story is included.

(Comments or highlights behavior of character.)

____/ 3 pts.

Event Attended

  • One event is included.

(Brief description of what the event was.)

____/ 3 pts.

Total Score

___/ 30 pts.

General Comments:
Other Evidence (quizzes, tests, prompts, observations, dialogues, work samples):

Furthering knowledge/practice through…

-dialogues, in-class discussions

-comprehension checks (oral quizzes, Jeopardy! Game)

-graphic organizers (guided notes on introductory information, character traits for Shoofly Pie, etc.)

-worksheets (menu activity for Shoofly Pie, inferences worksheet for The Possibility of Evil)

-writing prompts/activities (notecard poems for A Celebration of Grandfathers)

-final comprehensive assessment (final test for Unit II – questions covering The Secret Life of Walter Mitty)

*Note*: These selections of evidence will be included within the lesson plans. Worksheets, activities, and the comprehensive assessment documents will also be attached throughout the lessons.

Student Self-Assessment and Reflection:

Students will self-assess the following questions pertaining to their individual progress in Unit II:
-Do you feel that you have gained more knowledge on how characters are developed?

-What three main ideas will you remember the most from this unit?

-Were the activities, discussions, and readings helpful in understanding the concepts of the unit?

-Which activities or assignments were most helpful in preparing you for the final performance task (Facebook Page: Character Presentation)?

-Do you have any suggestions in how the unit could be improved (either through teaching ideas or engagement of you as a student)?


Comprehension AssessmentThe Secret Life of Walter Mitty

(Covers information asked in pre-assessment, covered in unit, and highlighted in Facebook Page: Character Presentation performance task.)

Attached below.

Excerpts from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber

Excerpt I
"WE'RE going through!" The Commander's voice was like thin ice breaking. He wore his full-dress uniform, with the heavily braided white cap pulled down rakishly over one cold gray eye.

"We can't make it, sir. It's spoiling for a hurricane, if you ask me."

"I'm not asking you, Lieutenant Berg," said the Commander. "Throw on the power lights! Rev her up to 8500! We're going through!"

"Full strength in No. 3 turret!" shouted the Commander. "Full strength in No. 3 turret!"

The crew, bending to their various tasks in the huge, hurtling eight-engined Navy hydroplane, looked at each other and grinned. "The Old Man'll get us through," they said to one another. "The Old Man ain't afraid . . .!”
"Not so fast! You're driving too fast!" said Mrs. Mitty. "What are you driving so fast for?"

"Hmm?" said Walter Mitty. He looked at his wife, in the seat beside him, with shocked astonishment. She seemed grossly unfamiliar, like a strange woman who had yelled at him in a crowd.

"You were up to fifty-five," she said. "You know I don't like to go more than forty. You were up to fifty-five." Walter Mitty drove on toward Waterbury in silence, the roaring of the SN202 through the worst storm in twenty years of Navy flying fading in the remote, intimate airways of his mind.

"You're tensed up again," said Mrs. Mitty. "It's one of your days. I wish you'd let Dr. Renshaw look you over."

Excerpt I Questions

  1. From your first impressions in this introductory section, what triggers Walter Mitty’s daydreams?

    1. a switch

    2. his wife

    3. real-life events

    4. hysteria

  1. How does Walter Mitty feel about his life?

    1. dissatisfied

    2. content

    3. happy

    4. angry

  1. "Walter Mitty" was published in 1939, the year after World War II began. How are you able to see the influence of this major event in the story from the author? Explain with story details.


Excerpt II
When he came out into the street again, with the overshoes in a box under his arm, Walter Mitty began to wonder what the other thing was his wife had told him to get. She had told him, twice before they set out from their house for Waterbury. In a way he hated these weekly trips to town--he was always getting something wrong. Kleenex, he thought, Squibb's, razor blades? No. Tooth paste, toothbrush, bicarbonate, Carborundum, initiative and referendum? He gave it up. But she would remember it. "Where's the what's-its- name?" she would ask. "Don't tell me you forgot the what's-its-name." A newsboy went by shouting something about the Waterbury trial.
. . . "Perhaps this will refresh your memory." The District Attorney suddenly thrust a heavy automatic at the quiet figure on the witness stand. "Have you ever seen this before?''

Walter Mitty took the gun and examined it expertly. "This is my Webley-Vickers 50.80," ho said calmly. An excited buzz ran around the courtroom. The Judge rapped for order.

"You are a crack shot with any sort of firearms, I believe?" said the District Attorney, insinuatingly.

"Objection!" shouted Mitty's attorney. "We have shown that the defendant could not have fired the shot. We have shown that he wore his right arm in a sling on the night of the fourteenth of July."

Walter Mitty raised his hand briefly and the bickering attorneys were stilled. "With any known make of gun," he said evenly, "I could have killed Gregory Fitzhurst at three hundred feet with my left hand."

Pandemonium broke loose in the courtroom. A woman's scream rose above the bedlam and suddenly a lovely, dark-haired girl was in Walter Mitty's arms. The District Attorney struck at her savagely. Without rising from his chair, Mitty let the man have it on the point of the chin. "You miserable cur!" . . .

"Puppy biscuit," said Walter Mitty. He stopped walking and the buildings of Waterbury rose up out of the misty courtroom and surrounded him again. A woman who was passing laughed.

"He said 'Puppy biscuit,'" she said to her companion. "That man said 'Puppy biscuit' to himself."

Walter Mitty hurried on. He went into an A. P., not the first one he came to but a smaller one farther up the street. "I want some biscuit for small, young dogs," he said to the clerk.

"Any special brand, sir?"

The greatest pistol shot in the world thought a moment. "It says 'Puppies Bark for It' on the box," said Walter Mitty.

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