|Third Grade Reading Workshop: Character
- To understand that good readers read to develop a theory
about a character.
- To read and collect evidence that supports or challenges
a theory about a character.
- To make inferences about the evidence from the text to say
more about a character.
- To follow a character through change (make predictions about
Harry series, Frog
and Toad series, Mr.
Running records, conference notes, graphic organizers and
post-its with responses on them
PART 1: INITIAL CHARACTER TRAIT ANALYSIS
Day 1: Good readers talk for a long time about
books they’ve read. One way you can talk for a long time
about a book is to talk about a character.
I do this in my reading and soon I will expect you to do it
Day 2 and 3: Good readers make theories about
characters so they can talk for a long time about a character. They read and stop to think about words that describe a character. Those describing words
are called traits ("Horrible Harry is the kind
of kid who..." or "Mr. Putter is...").
They write the trait on a post-it and put the post-it on the
page that shows the evidence of the trait. (Teacher's
Note: this may take more than two days for your readers
to do independently. Often times, children need several days
of this before they can move on to charting their thoughts.)
Day 4 and 5: Good readers use graphic organizers
like webs to help them prepare for their long conversation (or
long writing) about a character. They transfer the character
traits written on the post-it notes into the boxes on the graphic
organizer and then write evidence from the text on the lines
below the box.
Day 6: Good readers use their graphic organizers
to write about characters. (Teacher's Note: This could transfer in to teaching about good paragraph writing,
with topic sentences and supporting detail sentences, but focus
should remain on the purpose to help you prepare for a conversation
about the character.) Good readers write a big idea sentence
about a character, and then write
a sentence about each trait with the supporting evidence in
a sentence that follows each trait.
PART 2: GROWING A BIGGER THEORY: INFERRING REASONS WHY
A CHARACTER ACTS THE WAY S/HE DOES
Day 7: Growing a bigger theory out of your
little one. By now you have read and written some things that
describe the character. But good readers
think deeper than just describing a character. Good readers often think about the reasons why a
character is acting a certain way. ("I wonder why Harry
acts so horribly?" or "I wonder why Mr. Putter has
such a soft heart?") These are the kinds of questions good
readers think about as they read. Today, as I read aloud think
about a theory, or a reason why, this character (Mr. Putter,
for example) has such a soft heart (or is so thoughtful). Grow
some of your theories on a simple web.
Day 8: Yesterday we collected some reasons
why we think Mr. Putter has such a soft heart or why he is so
thoughtful. We were thinking that he likes to be happy. And
makes him happy? Making other people happy by doing kind things
for them. You can make good theories about a character by paying
close attention to the relationships that character has with
other people or animals. Today, we are going to do something
good readers do when they have made a theory about a character.
We are going to collect evidence for our theory by paying close
attention to the relationships a character
has with other people or animals. We are going to read another
book with Mr. Putter and collect evidence that supports our
theory that doing kind things for other people makes him happy.
We will pay close attention to the relationships. When we get
to a page that has evidence of that we are going to mark it
with a post-it note.
Day 9: Yesterday we looked for evidence to
support out theory about Mr. Putter by looking at the relationships
he has with others. Today we are going to read, paying close
attention to the words he says to other people or animals in
the text. Once again, when we find a place in the test that
supports our theory (Mr. Putter likes to be happy and making
other people happy by doing kind things makes him happy), we
will mark it with a post-it note.
Day 10: We are still looking for evidence
that supports our theory about Mr. Putter and why he has such
a soft heart. Good readers pay attention to the words a character says, but they also pay attention to how a character says the words and the words a character doesn't say. Today we are going to read, collecting
evidence and marking with a post-it note the words that describe
how Mr. Putter speaks and the words
he does not say. (Teacher's Note: This
may have to be a separate day. Address passages where the character
could have said more but held back. When did s/he hold back?)
Day 11: Good readers also find evidence to
support their theories when they read, thinking about how a character moves or gestures. How does the way s/he moves or
doesn't move support your theory?
Day 12: Good readers find evidence about important
objects or clothing to support their theories. How does evidence
about clothing and/or objects support your theory? Does it matter?
Day 13: Good readers write plenty about this
extended theory: Why a character is
the way s/he is. Take all of these post-its and use the previous
graphic organizer to write the reasons why the character acts
in this way. (Mr. Putter has a soft heart because making other
people happy is what makes him happy. Include examples from
the text of words he has said and not said, gestures, clothing
and objects, if applicable)
Part 3: TALKING AND WRITING
ABOUT CHARACTER CHANGE
Day 14: Good readers pay attention to how a character grows and changes throughout
the story. Major events happen in a story, and in those moments
we can tell a lot about characters by how they act in that moment. Reread the character trait web from the beginning of the book. Has the character changed at all? Was there a major moment in
the story that caused the character
to change and act differently. Good readers read, looking for
these moments that cause the character to change. Sometimes
they happen and sometimes they do not. Read today with this
in mind. Look for places in the text where the character is acting differently or similarly to the traits
you have noticed earlier (refer to the webs). You may want to
stop and jot down how the character
is acting in some of these situations in your notebook. (Teacher's
Note: Not everyone has to be stopping and jotting today. Think
of it as setting the expectation that you will be looking for
these parts in their books and when
they occur they are going to take
note of them and say something about them.)
Day 15: Good readers also take note at major
events about how a character doesn't
react. Stop and jot in your notebooks when a major event happens
and the character doesn't react in
a way you expected.
Day 16, 17 and 18: Good readers compare a character across time or across texts. They think, "Is this character acting similarly to
the way s/he acted earlier in this text or in a different text
in the series?" Use a before and after chart (like a t-chart
or Venn diagram) to compare how the character acted before and
after a major event. Write down evidence from the text that
describes the words the character
said or didn't say, gestures, movement, objects and other strategies
taught earlier to back up your thinking about the comparison.
Day 19: Good readers think about what they
can expect from a character in the
future. They make predictions (in the form of stop and jots
in their notebooks) about what they can expect from the character
in this book, in another book in a series, of about the life
the character will live after the book.
Day 20: Good readers write about characters
in their independent reading books. Introduce dialogue journals.
After you finish reading an independent reading book, you will
need to write a letter to me about the book. In the letter you
will need to write the title of the book and the author and
then you may choose one of the following options:
- write about the character traits and show how a web guided
- write about your theory about the character and include
- write about how your character changed and include the
t-chart that helped you organize your thoughts.