• During our Character Studies Unit, the children will get to know the characters in their books by observing what the characters do and say. First, the children will practice making these observations about the main character named Opal in our class read-aloud, Because of Winn-Dixie, and then about the students will make these observations about the characters in their own books. Their observations will lead them to generate trait-based descriptions of the characters. Then the students will learn that they can study their observations to come up with an idea about a character. They can think, "What does this tell me about this character?" Specifically, students will learn to use their observations to make inferences about characters. As the students notice patterns in the things characters do and say, these ideas will be developed into thoughtful, text-based theories about a character. Then the students will use their theories to make predictions about what might happen next in the story.

    The students will also learn what happens to characters across the whole story. They will be introduced to the story mountain as a strategy for outlining the big events that happen for the main character. The students will learn that conflict is at the heart of all stories. Specifically, they will notice that the main character faces a series of challenges that pile up and grow bigger until the climax of the story when the character often faces a test, which prompts him or her to take action. This turning point leads to the resolution of the problem, which completes the character's journey. The students will learn to study the way characters respond to challenges in order to learn more about them. The students will also use this information to infer how a main character changes throughout the story.
     
    In the last part of our unit, the students will compare and contrast characters across books. They will compare what characters in different books like, do, or say, in addition to how they respond to trouble. The students will also practice comparing the lessons that characters learn, as well as the messages that authors convey to readers through those lessons. During our Character Studies Unit, the children will work in book clubs in which they will read and discuss books that feature similar characters.