Character analysis is an incredibly important skill in language arts. It is also a skill that is developed little by little over time. It starts as small as describing how a character responds to challenges within the story, and moves to describing a character in depth using his/her thoughts, feelings, words and actions. The fifth graders have been working diligently on determining character traits in fiction stories. They not only discover the trait that best describes the main character, but also give evidence that supports their thinking. Here are some examples of student work showing character traits with text evidence of Stellaluna.
From this activity we took our thinking further to produce a written literary analysis of the character development in Stellaluna. The students are working on analyzing the text evidence to explain how it supports their claim. We are trying to push their thinking outside of their comfort zone to move from analysis like, "This shows that Stellaluna is friendly." to "This shows that Stellaluna would do anything to keep her friends safe." We want them to realize that their evidence has to relate back to their character traits and explain, in their own thinking, how the author used that situation to develop the character.
Another focus of our literary essay unit is crafting strong introductions that get our readers hooked and state a clear claim. This is a struggle for many students because they want to simply state their claim and move on. It has taken a lot of modeling, collaborating, and practicing to get them to be comfortable and confident with their introductions.
Here are a few examples of students' essays: