I told students we were going to identify a character’s motivations and cite text evidence. Character motivation is the reasons why a character acts, thinks or feels a certain way.
I went back to stories students were familiar with and had enjoyed. I created a story event/motivation graphic organizer on chart paper and displayed it in front of the class. I wrote an event from the story and modeled asking myself a why question to help me find the character’s motivation. Character action: Mulan goes to war. Why does she go to war? What was her motivation? Her father was too old and frail to fight. I wrote it in the motivation column on the chart paper. I modeled pointing out the text evidence from the story. I did this with two more stories.
I guided students through identifying a character's motivation in response to events in other stories. I made sure to present examples where the motive was given and students had to find the cause or character action. I wanted them to be fluid in determining the motive and identifying the character action. (I intentionally used the word cause to ready students to find cause/effect relationships in informational text.)
Modeling is critical to student learning. As I did my Think Aloud, I explicitly referred to the text and underlined the evidence. This guaranteed that students did the same when working independently.
Students worked in pairs to identify character motivations by referring to the story and completing a chart. The chart contained character actions and character motivations for students to identify. They were required to underline the evidence text by placing a transparency over the text and dry erase maker to underline. I did this to ensure students were citing evidence from the text and not just relying on what they recalled from the story.
Students were assessed via a checklist. The checklist was shared with students before the assignment so that they knew the expectations. Two points were given for each correct response for identifying the character's motivation or story event and underlining text evidence. Eighty percent was considered mastery.
To close the lesson, each student was given an index card. I wrote the following prompt on the board: Write to an absent student and explain what you learned to day about character motivation. This required students to use academic language and recall today's learning. It also gave me an opportunity to gauge students' level of understanding of the concept.