Incorporating proof in analytical argument paragraphs can be a daunting task for students. This activity ups the fun factor as students analyze which traits a character has, find agreement from a peer, search for quotations that support the claim, evaluate this support, and integrate the support and claim into a well-written paragraph.
How can this be fun, you ask? Students do one part of this activity a day, breaking down the enormity of it, teacher mediates a snowball fight in the classroom, and students see they can create an analytical paragraph about a character, once they break it into steps.
I used this lesson with The Hunger Games. Students were nearly finished with the novel, and we began to look at how Katniss and Peeta acted in the novel and how their actions changed as the novel progressed. We created a list of character traits as part of a Springboard Lesson on heroes. We used this list for the activity, and students coded all traits with a K if Katniss possessed them or a P if Peeta possessed them or both a K and a P if Katniss and Peeta possessed them.
I also broke this lesson up into about 5 days as a warm-up for my reading class. On day one, they coded their sheet. On day two, they crumpled and exchanged, then highlighted and returned to the student to write on the index card (step 2). On day three, they were asked to find one piece of proof. On day four they were asked to find more proof, and on day five they wrote the paragraph. Each activity was quick, but required a continued focus on evidence that supported the trait they were given that day. Since cards switched every day, students were asked to think about multiple characteristics Katniss and Peeta possessed – not just the ones they initially thought. And, if students were unfamiliar with a trait and how it would be defined or demonstrated, they were exposed to various strategies for uncovering this information.
All in all, this provided a great way to teach a difficult concept – and the kids enjoyed the novelty of a different format for composing a paragraph. Enjoy!
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