Focus Question: How does analysis of character lead to a deeper understanding of text? [IS.15 - All Students]
Explain that we make judgments about people based on what they say and do. Ask, “What might you infer if you observe another student smiling at his or her report card? [IS.16 - All Students] What might you infer if you see the soccer team walking slowly after a game?” Discuss the clues students use to draw these conclusions. Ask students for other examples of how they use actions and feelings to make judgments about people’s behavior.
Tell students to think of a memorable character from a book, short story, or graphic novel. You may wish to provide a list of characters that have been discussed in class. [IS.17 - All Students] Ask students to write a one-sentence description of the character. Then ask students to explain how they came up with this description. Discuss their responses and write samples on the board/interactive whiteboard. Guide students to see that their responses generally fall into three categories: what the character says, what the character does, or what the character looks like. Encourage students to be active readers by looking for clues to character development as they read.
Review the elements of the short story: setting, character, plot, point of view, and theme. [IS.18 - All Students] Then have students read “Everyday Use.” [IS.19 - Struggling Learners] Ask students to describe where and when the story takes place. Then ask them to describe the narrator’s home. Ask, “What do you remember about the outside? The inside?” Say, “Picture how the events in the story might be different if they were to take place in a different setting.” Discuss why the setting is important to the events in a story. [IS.20 - All Students]
Distribute three copies of the Character Profile worksheet to each student (L-L-7-1_Character Profile.doc). Explain that students will fill out a profile for each main character in the story and that the profiles will help to analyze how the author develops the characters. Using the Sample Completed Character Profile (L-L-7-1_Sample Completed Character Profile.doc), model for students how to complete the profile by first writing the name of a main character in the oval. [IS.21 - All Students] Tell students to refer to the story to complete each section of the organizer: physical appearance, actions, thoughts and words, other characters’ thoughts and feelings, and what the narrator tells directly. Ask students to look for specific details from the story that support each section of the profile.
Part 2 [IS.22 - Level 1]
Have small groups identify the conflicts in the story. [IS.23 - All Students] Students should use their understanding of the characters to help identify the conflicts. Point out that a story may have multiple conflicts. Have one student in each group record the results. Explain that the most important conflict is the one that drives the story’s plot and brings about the climax. Ask students to decide what the most important conflict is and circle it. If necessary, review that the climax is the turning point of the story, the moment when the conflict is most intense. [IS.24 - All Students and Struggling Learners] Guide students to see that the climax occurs when Mama gives the quilts to Maggie.
Ask groups to report their themes. [IS.25 - All Students] Record the themes on the board/interactive whiteboard. Ask, “Does one theme seem more important than another? Why do you think so?” If students have difficulty deciding on an important theme, remind them about the significance of the story’s climax. Ask if the theme they have chosen is directly related to the climax.
Discuss the complexity of the relationships among literary elements. [IS.26 - All Students] Ask students to think about how the meaning of the story would change if one element was changed, for example, the point of view.
- Have small groups choose a section of the story that includes dialogue and reenact the scene through role-play.
- At the end of the story, Dee says Mama doesn’t understand her heritage. Encourage students to write a journal entry in which they explore what Dee means and how Mama interprets it.
- Have students watch excerpts from a movie with a strong theme, such as Star Wars. Point out that the main theme concerns the triumph of good over evil. Discuss how the conflict between the main characters is related to the theme.
- Ask students to role-play a meeting of two characters from other texts.
- Encourage students to rewrite a chapter of a book from another character’s point of view.