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English Language Arts Blog

The home of Vocab Gal and other educational experts K–12 resources

September 12, 2016 CL Teaching Strategies Charts & Org, ELA K-5, ELA Focus - Reading, ELA Resources - Graphic Organizers, Core Literacy

Focus on a Standard; Describing Characters in a Story (RL.3.3)

If you happened to have read my last post you know I gave some tips and tricks for goal setting and professional planning. I mentioned this follow-up post would be sharing some of my planning ideas and materials for: Tip 3: Focus on a Standard. For your student growth goal select a standard that is one of the most important standards at your grade level that your students need to work on as well. Be sure to really focus on that standard and when possible refer back to that standard when covering other standards.

describing-characters-in-a-story-activities.jpgFor my student growth goal last year with my 3rd grade students I focused on standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.3

Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

It was easy to tie in standards RL. 3.1 & 3.2 as we worked on 3.3. Here's how I did it:

1. Record the Problem and the Solution of the Story

I began the year with an organizer for my students to record the problem and the solution of the story. Based on the problem and the solution, I had my students pick a character trait to describe the main character. This very narrow and structured approach helped them make deciding on a character trait less overwhelming because they were mostly focusing on the solution to the problem of the story.  My organizer entitled 'Describe a Character Based on the Problem and the Solution' is available for download. Upon completion of the organizer, I had my students write or type a response describing the character based on the problem and the solution which covers RL 3.1 and 3.2.

2. Use the Summary of the Story to Guide Character Descriptions

Then my students moved on to using the summary of the story to guide their character descriptions. Using the summary was the natural next step because the solution to the problem was embedded in their summaries. To summarize with my third graders, I use the SWBS format (Somebody Wanted But So). Just in case you have never used SWBS format, the somebody is usually the main character, who wants something, but there is a problem, so the main character has to find a solution. My organizer entitled 'Describe a Character Using the Summary of the Book' is also available for download. By having my students summarize the story and use the summary to describe the character, I covered RL 3.1, 3.2 & 3.3.

 3. Character's Actions, Words, and Motives

At this point my students were ready to start taking notes on the character's actions and words, and decide what may have motivated those words and actions. I have an organizer for this as well, 'Describe a Character Using Their Actions, Words, and Motives.' Please note, this skill is covered again in 4th grade, but at a slightly deeper level because 4th graders need to analyze the character's thoughts, too.

describing-characters-in-a-story-activities-organizers-750px.png

Reading-Strategies-Download-Now

The skills discussed in this post, and the materials available for download, can be modified to use with most elementary grade level students. Hopefully my explanation on how I explored a critical ELA strand that showed to be an area of need for my students will be a valuable resource for you. If you are wanting to work on RL.3.3 with your students download the Describe Characters in a Story Graphic Organizers now.

Stay tuned for my next post when I will share with you how I selected this strand to work on with my students.