According to the Common Core State Standards, Reading Literature Standard 3 for 3rd grade requires students to “describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.” This standard is quite complex, as it requires students to be able to:
• Identify a characters’ traits, motivations, and feelings
• Identify the major events of a story
• Describe how a character reacts to those major events in the story
• Explain how the characters’ reactions/actions actually drive the sequence of events in the story
This is a difficult standard for third graders to master, and is even one that many fourth or fifth graders may continue to struggle with.
Given that many teachers are well versed in teaching character traits, this intervention-type lesson was developed to help teachers address the second part of standard RL 3.3, which gets at a much deeper level of understanding than we may have previously come to with our students. It requires the scaffolding of skills, where students first are able to identify the major events of a story, then think about how a character reacts to those events (using text evidence, of course), and then finally realizing that those actions or reactions are what actually drive the sequence of events of the story.
This lesson was developed for a group of fourth grade teachers that found their students hadn’t mastered RL 3.3, and needed something to use as an intervention lesson. The lesson uses Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco initially, but can be used as a template with any text that lends itself to the analysis of a character over the course of the story. The lesson was developed for a small-group intervention, but could easily be adapted to be used with a larger group.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License