5th Grade ELA : Unit #5 - Using Mentor Texts : Lesson #6

Using a Mentor Text to Build Theories about Characters

Objective: SWBAT use stated details and inferences to build theories about the characters in their independent reading books.
Standards: RL.5.1 RL.5.2 RL.5.3 RL.5.4 RL.5.6
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Mini-Lesson - 15 minutes

I start this lesson by saying, Students today I want to you to notice how the author of Hound Dog True sets up the characters of Uncle Potluck and Mattie in certain ways. As a reader, your job is to think about what the characters say and do, and how other people react to them.  Then you should start growing theories about the characters. To grow a theory means you start to infer things about the character that the author hasn't directly told you but want you to notice and think about.

Label one of your post-its Theories about_____________________.  Turn and talk with your partner about what character in your book you are growing theories about.  Remember to explain your theories by using our discussion prompts especially explain your thinking by including the because part.

I stop the class after about 10 minutes and say, "Readers lets hear some of your theories."  I chart students responses that are focused on theories about characters  from their books.

Then I say, When you go back to your seat I want you to continue post-iting your ideas you have about your reading.  Today work on growing theories about your character.


2 Independent Reading - 35 minutes

Here is our independent reading time in action.  Take a look at this video to get an inside view.

Independent Reading
Diverse Entry Points

During independent reading students are reading and writing post-its related to the mini-lesson or as this video demonstrated working on transferring titles completed from their reading logs to a log that lists all the books students have finished so far.  

I created this document as a unit check point that I will use in the future when I am teaching students to grow theories about their characters.   This kind of student work will give me concrete documentation of which students demonstrate the skill of growing ideas about their characters. Growing idea about characters is an important skill once readers are in N level books and above.  In the lower levels of books, characters tend not to have as rich inner lives as characters in higher level books.

For example, it is hard to grow ideas about Jack and Annie in the Magic Tree House series because these characters are two-dimensional.  They do not have rich inner lives.  Rather, in lower levels of books, I teach students to pay attention to the plot.  Focusing their attention on the sequence of events and  learning while reading.  The Magic Tree House series and similar series at the M level are great books to teach students that they can learn about real things while reading fiction.  They can learn about specific places and time periods.

3 Partner Share - 10 minutes

Give a signal to alert students that readers workshop is coming to a close. Briefly remind students about the strategies for growing theories and show them an example of my post-it.Say, "Let me show our chart about growing theories and my post-its from Hound Dog True."   Take a minute and add any additional information and evidence to your post-its so you will be ready to share. 

Say, "Students, I want you to look over your post-it notes and decide which one you want to share with your partners.  Partner A you will share first.  Partner B your job is to really listen to your partner as they share about the theories they are growing about their characters.  You might want to ask them some questions about their characters such as "What is the evidence for your theory?"  

Have students share their post its with one another.  Close the workshop by asking a student to share their post its with the class under the document camera.