Thursday, November 3, 2016

Diving deep into our characters

Fifth graders have been diving deep into fiction stories to learn more about strong characters and how they are developed! One of our focuses in our fiction unit was thinking deeply about the characters in our stories and how the author develops those characters. This means going beyond identifying character traits and providing textual evidence. These strategies entail analyzing and critiquing the characters and the author's words. 

One way we hit this target is through differentiated book groups. The students were given a novel at their independent reading level and were asked to analyze the character in many different ways. One way the students analyzed the character was by finding a passage in the book where the main character acted differently than the reader expected. This question is implying that the reader already has a good understanding of the character's usual behaviors and actions and can analyze the author's choice to veer away from that. Here is an example from a student that was reading Bud Not Buddy

Another way that we analyzed characters is by looking at what challenges he/she faced and how he/she responded to those problems. Here is another answer from the same story. 

The best part of these book groups was seeing the kids truly OWN their learning. We told them that these questions are meant to challenge their thinking and push them outside of their comfort zone. The students were not answering these questions to finish the work and hand it in, but they were truly analyzing the text and reflecting on their understanding of how the author developed the characters within a story to further their own learning! It was amazing to see the desire to become better readers through these book groups!

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