April 6, 2017

Using Close Reading Strategies to teach Test Prep...Analyzing the Character {part 1}

In previous lessons, we worked to differentiate between character feelings and character traits, sorting them as positive and negative. But they were still writing character feelings as character traits and vice versa. We created charts together and the students referred to them often, but I needed them to realize that there was a difference.

This close reading of "Swimming with Sharks" focused on what we know about the character and what that says about her. I wanted them to think about Sarah's actions throughout the text. As we skimmed the text, if we noticed something that Sarah did, we underlined it and wrote an A {for action}.

This chart became the focal point of the lesson...

For the window, I wrote the character's name on one side and actions on the other. We went through the actions we underlined and only listed the events that were the most important--the ones that moved the story along {plot}. On the inside, we listed Sarah's character traits based on her actions. {What does this say about the character?}

Taking it a step further...we talked about how the character acts normally {in-character} and when we notice how the character suddenly changes {out of character}. This part helps students begin to think about how the character changes over time and the cause of the change. { A common question and misconception on our tests.}

The students recreated the window in their notebooks using post-its. {I had them put the sticky part to the side and crease it. They did this twice, one for each part of the window.} They also wrote the "in-character" and "out-of-character" underneath their post-its.

For independent work, the students used "Lawn Boy". They skimmed it for Gary's actions and annotated their texts. They filled in their notebooks focusing on the important actions, traits, and how the character changed.

As I was going through the lesson, I thought it was a lot for them to handle at once. However, they surprised me with their focus and thoroughness with the text. I was able to clear up misunderstandings as soon as they happened and gave immediate feedback. I was quite impressed with them and their work!

How do you use close reading in your classroom? I'd love to hear about it in the comments 💗💗

Stay tuned for Analyzing the Character {part 2}  and the final post of this series on Theme.

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