Get results with this complete, differentiated unit! Students learn to construct responses that describe characters, settings, or events. They find evidence in the text and write powerful paragraphs.
Four stories, adapted from Just So Stories, are included. Each reading passage has been adapted for three reading levels: advanced, average, and low. Content differentiation allows you to reach all students in your class with every lesson.
This unit takes you through an entire learning cycle:
- Direct Instruction - An editable PowerPoint presentation provides a clear introduction to describing characters. Students first read "How the Camel Got Its Hump." Then they follow along as the presentation models how to locate evidence and construct a response.
- Guided Practice - Members of your class collaborate to write a second description. You can choose to describe the setting or an event from the first story or move on to another story.
- Independent Practice - Students practice describing characters, settings, and/or events from three additional stories. You can pick and choose from eighteen additional prompts.
- Assessment - When your students are ready, select a story and prompt as an assessment. Rubrics and a quick check are provided.
Generic response sheets allow you to continue practice of this skill with any story.
BONUS: A companion website stores all files (and more) in one convenient place. Just click and go. Differentiated reading passages and questions have also been saved as paperless Google files. You can grab the URL to share with students or on a closed class website. It's perfect for Google Classroom!
- Notes to the Teacher – Three pages guide teachers through the metacognitive process students take to describe a character, setting or event: (1) Dissect the passage and determine which portions offer evidence. (2) Consider the evidence; look for patterns and relationships. (3) Make a generalization. Express it as a topic sentence. (4) Reevaluate the evidence. Write it in your own words. (5) Summarize or react in a conclusion.
- Guiding Questions – This one-page resource provides thought-provoking questions students can ask themselves as they prepare to describe.
- Lesson Plans – Plans list the objective, differentiation, and higher order thinking skills. They then discuss getting started, modeling, and two options for instruction.
- Text for PowerPoint Presentation
- PowerPoint – A 16-slide presentation models the process for describing a character in a constructed response. At the end of the presentation, an alternate response shows students that more than one answer is possible.
- Checklist - A half-sheet checklist allows quick grading.
- 6 Rubrics – Three different options (each available with or without CCSS RL.4.3 listed at the top) are provided. The first assesses everything: topic sentence, citing, evidence, conclusion, and clarity. The second does not assess the conclusion. The third does not assess citing.
- Generic Description Sheets – You can use these character, setting, and event description sheets for other stories throughout the year.
- Companion Website – In addition to the unit and PowerPoint presentation, you’ll receive the link to a companion website. It stores all resources (and more!) in one handy spot.
Stories & Response Sheets
- “How the Camel Got His Hump” (advanced, average, and low – 2 pages each) with 4 response sheets (2 character, 1 setting, 1 event)
- “The Beginning of the Armadillo” (advanced – 4 pages, average – 3 pages, and low – 3 pages) with 6 response sheets (4 character, 1 setting, 1 event)
- “The Elephant’s Child” (advanced – 7 pages, average – 6 pages, low – 3 pages for independent practice) with 5 response sheets (3 character, 1 setting, 1 event)
- “How the Leopard Got His Spots” (advanced, average, and low for assessment – 2 pages each) with 5 response sheets (3 character, 1 setting, 1 event)
- Six Ways to Cite – A mini poster shows different ways to cite the text.
- Transition Terms – A one-page list gives dozens of words showing similarities, differences, cause/effect, examples, sequence, and conclusion.
- Steps for Describing a Character, Setting, or Event – A second mini poster guides students through the process.
- Student Response Sheets – Each themed page lists the steps at the top, presents the prompt in the middle, and provides lines for writing at the bottom. Several character prompts, a setting prompt, and an event prompt are provided for each story.
- Teacher Tips (found in the website only) - Helpful tips provide alternatives to constructed response, ideas for scaffolding and practice, and more. Cute character response sheets and constructed response cube templates are included.
This bundle, created by master teacher Brenda Kovich, these activities are classroom tested and kid approved. They are also part of the Fourth Grade Literature Skills Bundle, which addresses all fourth grade literature standards.
Like each of the fourth grade literature skills units, this resource is available in three formats:
- PowerPoint – for teachers who want a clear introduction to the standard
- Practice – for teachers whose students need extra work on the standard
- Unit (this resource) – *best value* for teachers who want a complete learning cycle: direct instruction, guided practice, independent practice, and assessment (PowerPoint, practice, additional resources, companion website, and paperless Google option included)
You can choose the format that best fits your needs.
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Just So Stories, written by Rudyard Kipling and illustrated by Joseph M. Gleeson, was published by Doubleday Page and Company in 1912 and is now in the public domain.
- CCSS RL.4.3 – Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
- Alaska Reading Standard for Literature Grade 4 – Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
- Florida CPALMS LAFS.4.RL.1.3 – Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
- Indiana Academic Standard 4.RL.2.3 – Describe a character, setting, or event in a story or play, drawing on specific details in the text, and how that impacts the plot.
- Nebraska English Language Arts Standard LA 4.1.6.c – Identify and describe elements of literary text (e.g., characters, setting, plot, point of view, theme).
- Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts 4.3.R.3 – Students will describe key literary elements (setting, plot, characters).
I’m committed to continual improvement. This unit was updated and enhanced on August 16, 2018.