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Looking for a way to improve your kids' vocabulary while teaching character traits? This is a fun way to go!
These traits come from Patrick Manyak (2007) in an article in The Reading Teacher where he advises teaching character traits in a school-wide approach. Every grade level he suggests should be responsible for teaching 20 or so traits. The traits listed here he recommends for second graders. What I have done is taken his list, added pictures to illustrate the meaning and then on the mini-cards, have provided somewhat of an explanation or an example, and synonyms. These then can be added to a bulletin board as you teach them.
Even though it is suggested for second grade, it would be great for other grades too, as well as second language learners because of the great picture support! The stand alone card can be printed and laminated and given to each student to keep in his/her reading folder and writing folder as a reference. If you are lucky enough to have a color poster maker, I would definitely turn this into a poster. As far as the cards, I would use them in conjunction with your read aloud and the “Tracking Traits Across Texts” chart. Each time you finish a read aloud, you can chart the main character from the story, list the predominant trait of the main character, indicate whether the trait caused or solved the problem and then find examples from the text to help further illustrate the meaning.
Kids need to understand that authors do not give their characters random traits. The traits usually solve or cause a problem in the story. By keeping track of the stories read, your students will be able to notice patterns in characters behavior and how the trait relates to solving or causing a problem. Included in this product is also a “Tracking Traits In My Books” organizer for your students to use with their independent reading books or their guided reading books.
Also, to help kids understand traits it may be a good way to start by identifying their own traits. Included is a sheet for your kids to do that plus give supporting evidence.
The traits for second grade are obviously difficult and not part of your students’ speaking or writing vocabulary. You can help lift the level of their vocabulary by using the vocabulary in your daily conversations with your kids. Example, “Susie is being so considerate by allowing…” Researchers suggest that using the words in everyday context will ensure that the kids will learn their meanings.
Teaching vocabulary in isolation to younger students does not guarantee that the students really know it. Another way to use these cards is in a game of Charades. One fun way to reinforce the meanings with young kids would be to have a student volunteer stand in front of a Promethean board, or another board that could project a given trait. The student volunteer asks questions to the class to try to figure it out. For example, the student might ask, “Is it a negative trait”? Very challenging! Or you can be thinking of a trait and the kids have to ask 20 questions (yes or no) to figure it out. Of course, all of these need explicit instruction before a game could be played.
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