Unit Title: Creating Characters Grade Level: 4 Subject/Topic: Discovering character development through the eyes of a reader and a writer
Key Words: flat character, dynamic character, round character, static character, indirect characterization, direct characterization, dialogue, inference, character traits, personification, narrator
Designed by: Marie Whatley and Rebecca Neeley Time Frame: 6 weeks
School District: Newberry County School: LME/BSE
Brief Summary of Unit (including curricular context and unit goals): This unit is based on the big idea of environment in a text and how a reader navigates the environment of the text to piece together clues to make inferences about the characters. Students need to understand that within the environment of the text, a writer uses tools of the writer’s craft to reveal the character to the reader. The reader must make careful observations to see the author’s use of imagery to describe the character, the methods of conveying a character’s thoughts through the narrator or another character, and the use of dialogue to unfold a character’s traits. If the students learn to read from the perspective of both a reader and a writer, they will come to a deeper understanding of the text. In this unit students will analyze a variety of literary texts to make inferences about characters (both humans and characters with human qualities such as animals). The culminating performance task requires students to create an original character sketch (written as a poem or prose) that will be evaluated with a rubric.
Unit Design Status: x Completed template pages – Stages 1, 2, and 3
x Completed blueprint for each performance task x Completed rubrics
Directions to students x Materials and resources listed
X Suggested accommodations x Suggested Extensions
Status: Initial Draft (date: ) Revised draft (date: )
Peer Reviewed Content reviewed Field Tested Validated Anchored
Stage 1- Identify Desired Results
Standard and Indicators:
4-1 The students will read and comprehend a variety of literary texts in print and nonprint.
4-1.2 Analyze literary text to draw conclusions and make inferences.
4-1.4 Distinguish among devices of figurative language (including simile, metaphor, personification, and hyperbole).
4-1.7 Create responses to literary texts through a variety of methods (for example, writing, creative dramatics, visual and performing arts).
4-4 The student will create written work that has a clear focus, sufficient details, coherent organization, effective use of voice, and correct use of conventions of written Standard American English.
4-4.5 Use revision strategies to improve the organization and development of content, and the quality of voice in written works.
4.4.6 Edit for the correct use of written standard English including dialogue.
4-5 The student will write for a variety of purposes and audiences.
4-5.3 Create written descriptions using language that appeal to the readers’ senses.
What essential questions will be considered? What understandings are desired?
What are the types of characters?
What are some character traits?
How do readers make inferences about characters?
What are the tools of the writer’s craft that an author uses to develop a character in a fictional story or poem?
Students will understand…
The vocabulary that describes character traits.
How readers make inferences about characters.
How writers use craft to develop characters.
What key knowledge and skills will students acquire as a result of this unit?
Students will know…
Students will be able to…
It is essential for students to know…
Characters in a literary text can be human beings or possess human qualities. (Such as animal characters in a fable or folktale)
In indirect characterization the reader must infer what the character is like through the character’s thoughts, actions, words, interactions with other characters, and the character’s reactions.
A writer uses craft to develop a character.
Read a variety of literary texts and form inferences about a character’s traits and give evidence from the text to support their inferences.
Create an original character sketch using writer’s craft. The sketch may be written in prose or as a poem.
Stage 2- Determine Acceptable Evidence
hat evidence will show that students understand?
The students will create an original character sketch (written as a poem or prose) that will include the craft that a writer uses to develop fictional characters.
What other evidence needs to be collected in light of Stage 1 Desired Results?
(e.g., tests, quizzes, prompts, work samples, observations)
Create a KWL chart as a pre-assessment of characterization.
Present different pieces of literary text and allow students to make observations about character traits and the evidence to support their observations of the traits.
Create an anchor chart of these observations as a formative assessment.
Create an original character sketch.
Student Self–Assessment and Reflection
Students will assess their character sketches through whole-group sharing, small-group discussions, and individual/peer/teacher conferences.
What understandings or goals will be assessed through this task?
Students will plan, design, and develop an original fictional character sketch in the form of a poem or prose.
What criteria are implied in the standards and understandings regardless of the task specifics?
What qualities must student work demonstrate to signify that standards were met?
It is implied that inferences about characters are made by understanding how writers use craft to develop a character.
Create an original character which includes the character’s thoughts, actions, dialogue, interaction with other characters, or through the character’s reactions.
Through what authentic performance task will students demonstrate understanding?
Student-created fictional character.
What student products and performances will provide evidence of desired understandings?
Oral presentation of craft used to develop their sketch.
By what criteria will student products and performances be evaluated? Rubrics, quizzes, conferences
Stage 3- Plan Learning Experiences
What sequence of teaching and learning experiences will equip students to engage with, develop, and demonstrate the desired understandings? Use the following sheet to list the key teaching and learning activities in sequence. Code each entry with the appropriate initials of the WHERETO elements.
Do a shared reading of “Licked” by Paul Jennings. (“Licked” from Covered with Nails andother Stories to Shock Your Socks Off) After a discussion of the selection, the student/teacher will create a list of character traits. Then the teacher will write character traits on a small piece of paper and place them in a bag labeled “character traits.” Each student will pick one strip from the bag and write three sentences to describe a character with that trait. The first sentence will be about what a character with that trait thinks, the second sentence will be about what a character with that trait would say, and the third sentence will be about what a character with that trait does. Then students will form small groups. Each group member will share his/her sentences, and the other group members will guess the character trait that matches the three sentences. (Affirmation of Performance, Affiliation. Choice)
Discuss Essential Questions and product standards for completing the final performance task of creating an original fictional character sketch. W(Clear and Compelling Product Standards, Product Focus)
3. KWL on student’s knowledge of how a character is revealed in a text. T (Content and
Substance, Organization of Knowledge)
SmartBoard shared readings from a variety of literary texts (poems, fables, folktales,
realistic fiction). Students will discuss the traits of the characters in the texts and give
evidence of the traits from the shared text. They will also record their observations about
how the writer develops the characters. E1 (Affiliation, Protection from Adverse
Consequences for Initial Failure)
Create anchor charts with students’ observations about how characters are developed in
Generate vocabulary to express character traits. E1(Protection from Adverse Consequences for Initial Failures)
Provide small groups of students with a literary text similar to ones shared during whole group sharing, and the group will create a group anchor chart displaying their observations about how they come to know the character in the excerpt or short text. E1 (Affirmation of Performance)
Give a short-answer quiz where students read a variety of text excerpts and respond by making inferences about the characters in the excerpts and supporting their inferences with evidence from the texts. E-2(Protection from Adverse Consequences for Initial Failures)
Teacher models creating a fictional character sketch. E1(Protection from Adverse Consequences for Initial failure)
Students begin crafting their original character sketches (written in prose or as a poem). E1(Novelty and Variety, Choice, Authenticity)
Whole Group/ Small Group/ Peer and Teacher conferences. R(Affiliation, Affirmation of Performance)
Oral Presentation of finished product. Students will explain the writing process that they used to create the final product as well as the final product. E2(Authenticity, Affirmation of Performance)
Stage 3- Plan Learning Experiences (continued)
onsider the WHERETO elements.
Create anchor charts based on students’
observations about inferences of character traits and evidence from the text to support them. View the piece from the perspective of the reader.
Give a quiz containing cold reads of poems. Students give short answer responses about the main character’s traits with evidence from the text to support their answers.
The students continue small group work with Thursday’s fables/folktales but view the text from the author’s standpoint—methods he uses to develop the character. Create an anchor chart with observations.
Begin SmartBoard shared readings of poems which illustrate character development.
Each group shares their poem and anchor chart with the class.
Place students in small groups with fables/folktales. Have students create an anchor chart containing a list of character traits of the main character in the fable/folktale and evidence from the fable/folktale to support the trait.
Formative assessment of student’s knowledge of character development through a KWL chart.
The children continue small group work with Tuesday’s poems but view the text from the author’s standpoint—methods he uses to develop the character. Create an anchor chart with observations.
Review fables/folktales from the previous day. Then view from the perspective of the writer—how the writer crafts the character (thoughts, actions , dialogue, and through observations by the narrator or other characters).
Discuss essential questions and creation of original character sketch rubric.
Place children in small groups with poems. Have students create an anchor chart containing a list of character traits of the main character in the poem and evidence from the poem to support the trait.
Create anchor charts based on students’ observations of character traits and evidence from the text to support them. View the piece from the perspective of the reader.
Shared reading of “Licked” by Paul Jennings (From Covered with Nails and Other Stories to Shock Your Socks Off) See #1 of “WHERETO” section.
Review poems from the previous week and then view from the perspective of the writer – how the writer crafts the character (thoughts, actions, dialogue, and through observations by the narrator or other characters).
Begin SmartBoard shared readings of fables/folktales (Characters with human qualities) which illustrate character development.
Place students in small groups with realistic fiction stories. Have students create an anchor chart containing a list of character traits of the main character in the story and evidence from the story to support the trait.
The teacher models the writing of an original character sketch. (Poem)
Review realistic fiction stories from the previous day from the perspective of the writer- how the writer crafts the character. (thoughts, actions, dialogue, and through observations by the narrator or other characters)
The teacher models the writing of an original character sketch. (Prose)
Revisions and editing of final drafts
Create anchor charts based on student’s observations about inferences of character traits and evidence from the text to support it. View the piece from the perspective of the reader.
A quiz containing cold reads of realistic fiction on which students give short-answer responses about the main character’s traits with evidence from the text to support their answer.
Use feedback from sharing to revise character sketches.
Begin SmartBoard shared reading of realistic fiction which illustrates character development.
Each group shares their realistic fiction story and anchor chart with the class.
Peer/small group/individual Conferences and whole group sharing for suggested improvements to first drafts
Each group shares their fables/folktales and anchor chart with the class.
The students continue small group work with Friday’s stories but view the text from the authors standpoint—methods he uses to develop the character. Create an anchor chart with observations.
Students begin writing first drafts of their sketches.
Vocabulary List for Fourth Grade ELA Unit
A figure in a literary work that either is a human being or possesses human qualities and is portrayed in human terms. There are four basic types of character:
Dynamic-one who changes in a significant way during the course of the story
Static-one who remains the same throughout the story
Round-one who is presented in a complex, three-dimensional portrait (Generally, major characters in works of fiction are presented as fully developed, or rounded personalities.)
Flat- one who is presented as having a single trait
The qualities of the characters revealed through speech, appearance, private thoughts, other characters, opinions, actions, and narrators description.
The way in which an author presents a character.
Direct Characterization- the author literally tells what a character is like. This may be done by the narrator, another character, or by the character himself.
Indirect Characterization- the reader must infer what the character is like through the character’s thoughts, actions, words, and interactions with other characters, including other characters’ reactions.
The conversation between characters in a literary work.
A story that has no known author and was originally passed on from one generation to another by word of mouth. Unlike myths, which are about gods and heroes, folktales are usually about ordinary people or animals that act like people.
The act or process of drawing a conclusion based on what one already knows either from prior knowledge, observations, or evidence found in the text. When making an inference, ideas and facts are implied or suggested rather then stated outright.
The work of an accomplished author that one uses as a model for one’s own writing.
The figurative device in which animals, objects, or abstractions are represented as being human or as having human attributes.
The entity that is within any story and tells the story to the audience.
Two or more overlapping circles often used to show similarities and differences between objects.
Character Traits humble studious demanding independent
Realistic Fiction books for passages/excerpts that illustrate how a character is developed through descriptions, dialogue, thoughts of the narrator or another character, or the character’s actions/reactions:
Heartbeat is a collection of free verse poems by Sharon Creech. There are four characters in the series of poems— Annie (a 12 year old girl), Max (Annie’s friend who is 13 years old), Grandpa (Annie’s grandfather who lives with Annie’s family and who is losing his memory), and Annie’s mom (who is having a baby), and Annie’s father.
Annie, Max, and Grandpa are dynamic characters. The following poems in the book are poems that could be read to make a list of traits for each of these characters and to find evidence to support each trait from the text of the poems. Some of the poems could be used for more than one character (such as “Questions” for both Max and Annie). These poems could be used to do a Venn diagram comparing/ contrasting the two characters.
“Mother of the World”
“Fears and Loves”
“Mother of the World”
Poems About AnniePoems About MaxPoems About Grandpa
Extension Activity #2 Following are some suggested passages/excerpts from Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech that might be used to teach students to make inferences about characters and to support them with evidence from the text. They also illustrate the craft that writers use to develop characters. These passages/excerpts might be used for whole-group or small- group instruction, or quizzes.
Description of Salamanca Hiddle’s grandparents through Salamanca— pages 5-7
Physical Description of Phoebe Winterbottom— pages 12-13
Description of Salamanca’s mother’s parents (The Picfords) — page 15
Learning about Margaret Cadavor through a conversation between Salamanca Hiddle and Phoebe Winterbottom and through their thoughts— page 22- 23
Learning about Salamanca Hiddle’s grandparents (the Hiddles) through conversations and descriptions— pages 26-28
Description of the character, Ms. Winterbottom —pages 30-31
Learning about Salamanca’s mother through Sal’s thoughts about her— page 34, page 38
Learning about Grandpa Hiddle through his actions— page 54
Learning about Mr. Birkway (Salamanca’s teacher) through conversations and descriptions of him by other characters—pages 80-83
Learning about Ms. Winter bottom through conversations and thoughts of other characters— pages 88-89
Learning about four characters (Ms. Winterbottom, Pooebe, Prudence, and Salamanca) revealed through dialogue, characters’ reactions, and thoughts of other characters— page 103-105
Learning about Salamanca’s father through conversations and thoughts of another character —pages 107-109
Extension Activity #3
(The following lessons found at this site might be used with this unit)
Inferring How and Why Characters Change
Mapping Characters Across a Book Series
RUBRIC FOR SCORING CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT PROJECT Content
Reveals the character through his/her/its actions
Reveals the character through dialogue- by what the character says or by what other characters say about him/her/it
Reveals the character through his/her/its own thoughts or by what others think about him/her/it
Reveals the character by describing the character’s appearance
0 1 2 3 4 x 6 = _____
The writing follows a logical sequence.
There is evidence of a plan.
0 1 2 3 4 x 6 = _____
Uses precise and vivid vocabulary
Varies sentence structure
Uses punctuation and font effectively to show the reader how a human voice would sound
Words are written in such a way that they carry with them the sense that someone has actually written them
0 1 2 3 x 6 = _____
Rules of standard English are applied consistently.
Sentences are constructed correctly.
There are few errors in capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. The errors do not detract from the writer’s meaning.