Lesson: Character Analysis and Bio. Poem

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to identify the different character traits in a work of fiction and support with examples from the text.

Lesson Plan

5th Grade
5.R.3.3– Character Analysis & Ties to plot or theme
Standard : 5th RC 3.3, 6th RC 3.2 &3.3
Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text: 5th: RC 3.3Contrast the actions, motives (e.g., loyalty, selfishness, conscientiousness), and appearances
of characters in a work of fiction & discuss importance of the contrasts to the plot or theme.
6th: RC3.2 Analyze the effect of the qualities of the character (e.g., courage or cowardice, ambition or laziness) on the plot and the resolution of the conflict. 3.3 Analyze the influence of setting on the problem and its resolution.
I. Desired Outcome
By the end of the period, students will complete a “Bio Poem” about Marian Anderson based on the book When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan.
II. Evidence of Learning
-student participation in discussion of story
-character traits organizer
-Bio Poem
III. Opening the Lesson
A. Activity to open the lesson ideally:
 1. Motivates and engages students,
 2. Either assesses prior knowledge or explicitly builds on prior knowledge/life experiences/interests – for example, “Do Nows”
 3. States the objective of the lesson.
B. How long will the opening take?
C. Consider Blooms Taxonomy/Ask good questions (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation)
Day 1
Pre-read questioning and intro:
Great books have excellent characters. It’s hard to enjoy a story when the characters are boring or uninspiring. The best characters aren’t just fictional though. Today we are going to read a story based on the life of real woman, Marian Anderson.
-Judging by the title and cover, what do you think Marian Anderson was famous for?
-That’s right; she was a singer. Marian was a singer in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Using your knowledge of that time period, what challenges do you think Marian might have faced?
(hint)She was a singer before Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement started to make big gains. What troubles might she have faced?
Every person has certain personality traits. They can be good, bad or even neutral. Character traits describe fictional characters, since we are talking about a real person, we will call them personality traits. These are things that have to do with a human’s personality, or character but not their physical description. What are some words we might use to describe different people?
List on board or chart paper:
e.g.: happy, hardworking, understanding, impatient…
As we read, I want you to focus on Marian’s personality and her character. Think about how she deals with the things in her life and how you would describe her. Think about why the author thought that Marian Anderson was significant enough to have a book written about her life.
(10 minutes)
IV. Instruction and Modeling – What is the teacher doing?
A.What are you going to teach and how? (Will you provide relevant information, model thought processes, establish guides or graphic organizers, etcetera?)
B.How will you differentiate instruction? (small groups, guided math, guided reading, guided writing, literature circles, etc)
C..How long will each activity take?
D. Consider Blooms Taxonomy/Ask good questions (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation)
E. Consider Newmann’s Rigor
Day 1
Read aloud. Pause to clarify new vocabulary* or check comprehension by posing questions. Stay focused on personality traits and how Marian faces her challenges.
When finished, create the following organizer with the class**: (example)
Character/Personality Trait
Marian was…
Evidence from Text
“Her voice was distinct—strong and velvety and able to climb more than twenty-four notes.”
“Marian worked hard with Mr. Boghetti.”
She traveled to Europe to train.
 “No matter the humiliations she endured, Marian sang her heart with dignity.
*This book has some advanced vocabulary including: distinct, momentous, pleaded, multitudes, harmony, opulent, devoted, prejudice, endured, restrictions, trepidation, auditorium
**I recommend you have students record this organizer in their own notes as it will be useful for them in the next part of the lesson.
(30 minutes)
V.Guided Practice – What are the students doing?
A.What will students do to interact and practice the subject matter? 
B. How will you differentiate instruction? 
C.What sorts of groupings will you use?
D.How long will each activity take?
Day 2
Review/Summarize the book from yesterday: (These questions will set the students up for the poem.)
Who was Marian Anderson?
Why is she an important historical figure?
Who influenced Marian Anderson’s life?
What were her dreams?
What challenges did she face?
Today you are going to take what you learned about Marian Anderson’s character to create a “Bio Poem.” A Bio Poem tells about a person’s life in a creative way. There is no one right way to right this poem, but it does need to match the personality traits and experiences Marian had in the book we read together.
Use your notes about Marian’s personality traits to complete the Bio Poem outline. (See separate document for Poem Outline)
(5-10 minutes)
VI. Independent Practice
Give students copies of the Bio Poem outline. Allow students about 10 minutes to work independently. If possible, have multiple copies of the text available for the students to reference.
After most students have finished most of the poem, allow students 5 minutes to confer with a partner or small group and share their drafts. 
If time allows, let students publish final drafts and illustrate with pictures that support the poem.
VIII. Closing the Lesson
Have students present their Bio Poem’s to the class. Consider compiling published poems in a class book.
1. What went well?
2. What would you change?
3. What needs explanation?
I really like the strong link between reading, writing and history in this lesson. You get it all: reading comprehension, great vocabulary and poetry.
It would be nice to have a copy of the text for each student so they can look for examples easily. I had 6 copies of this text and distributed it around the room.
While the standard only mentions the traits of fictional characters, I’ve found that some of the best writing to illustrate character traits comes in the form of children’s biographies. I think they can gain the same skills using the non-fiction genre and then practice applying it to fictional literature.

Lesson Resources

Bio Poem   Writing Assignment


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