Do you need helps with ideas for teaching students how to develop characters in their narrative essay? This post will share an effective way to teach character traits and developing characters. These ideas are ideal for any writing curriculum and are a part of a series of mini lessons for writer’s workshop designed for scaffolding through the writing process.

Common Core Standard:  We can apply grade level Reading standards to literature (e.g., “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}.”)

1. TEACH

There are two kinds of traits:

1.  Outside traits:  Physical traits that you can actually see.  (blonde, tall, messy hair, dirty clothes)

2.  Inside traits:  How the character feels or acts.  (bossy, lonely, mysterious, thoughtful, clumsy)

To write a well-crafter paper, show the development of the characters throughout the story.

  • Did they change in any way?
  • Were they bossy at the beginning and then caring towards the end?
  • Did something happen to cause this damage?

2. MENTOR TEXT

Teaching character traits and character development is so much easier using mentor text! In rich literature, authors craft their stories so we can feel like we know the characters. They create personalities and emotions within the characters. In turn, we develop feelings for them. Using these well-crafted stories, teachers can point out the different character traits and show students where the characters may take a turning point and change their actions.

Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare by Patricia Polacco

Read the book Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare. Richie teases his sister Tricia about taking ballet. Tricia knows how much work it takes so she challenges Richie to perform in her ballet recital. Richie agrees, under one condition: Tricia has to join his hockey team for the big game! Richie’s character changes throughout the story as he realizes how difficult it is to perform ballet.

Changes in Richie:  Teasing, belittling, disgusting to being respectful towards his sister’s hard work.

A list of mentor text for CHARACTER TRAITS:    CHARACTER TRAITS MENTOR TEXT LIST

3. MODEL

Model a class story. Together, go through the characters and decide how they can change throughout the story.

Example:  My main character is going to be jealous at the beginning. She wants to be like the popular girls at school. In the end, she realizes her talents and that she is just as special.

4. TAKE NOTES and LIST OF TRAITS

Students should take notes about character traits. Then, when they need help in the future, they can go back to their notes for a reminder. If you have a resource with a list of traits, they can add that to their writing folders or you can place them in a writing center!

5. PRACTICE 

SKITTLE ACTIVITY:  Hand out a skittle to students and assign colors to a character trait or emotion. Whatever color they receive, they have to tell or write about how to change a character with that trait or emotion. When they finish, give them a handful!!!

Other ideas:  Identify the character trait or character development in paragraphs like task cards, or in passages.

6. APPLY

Students will first brainstorm ideas for their main character. When students are finished with developing the main character, work on the other characters in the story. I usually have my students pick three characters to develop. How will they change and develop over the course of the story? This is extremely helpful to keep the interest of the readers and the readers will get to know the characters at a more personal level!

7. SHARE

Share, share, share. It helps to have students share their ideas! By sharing their character development with other students, they may be able to build their story even more. In addition, their ideas may spark ideas for other students to use in their writing!

I hope you enjoyed learning how to develop characters in narrative writing!

 

 

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NEXT LESSON:  WRITING MINI LESSON #20- DIALOGUE IN A NARRATIVE ESSAY!

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This lesson is also included in the STEP-BY-STEP Writing Notebooks® with mini-lessons for Grades 1-8. Units included:

  • sentence structure
  • paragraph writing
  • narrative writing
  • opinion writing
  • informative writing

It is designed to scaffold through the writing process and includes anchor charts, interactive notes, modeled stories, mentor text, practice, tracking forms, goal forms, prompts, checklists, and so much more! Click below to learn more about this year-long STEP-BY-STEP writing program®!

“My grade level used this last year and our state assessment scores improved greatly in writing!!!  Other grades are using your units!  I am soooo excited to see what the kiddos remember from year to year since it spirals.  It’s helped them TONS and with our population, we always struggle to find successful resources.  We love them!!!” – Megan

ROCK ‘N’ WRITE!!!!

 

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