In literature, conflict moves the story to its resolution. It is important that students realize the power that conflict has in how a plot unfolds and affects the characters. The four basic types of conflict are: character vs character; character vs world (or society); character vs nature; and character vs self. This conflict resolution poster and video provides some insight into how to present this topic to the class.
In order to analyze the literary elements, especially characterization since that is the focus of this unit of study, students will work on a PowerPoint Presentation in their reading groups. The resources for this activity come from Instant PowerPoint Lessons & Activities: Literary Elements by Christine Boardman Moen (Scholastic Teaching Resources, 2012).
We start by watching the sample PowerPoint presentation but take time to note that while the slides lists many of the main characters actions there is not much evidence of what motivates the character. I let the students know that as sixth graders they are capable of deeper analysis and hand out planning pages. As you will see, the directions are somewhat modified in order to reveal some deeper thinking. Today the students work in their groups to create the first four slides. Work will continue on this project in subsequent lessons. Here is a sample of a finished project.
To keep students on track with their reading goals, I give them the last 15-20 minutes of class time to read and take notes. While they do so, I check in with students that I know need extra support.
Before starting this unit I took the time to get to know the novels and directed students that I knew to need extra support with comprehension to the certain ones on the list, like Among the Hidden. It is shorter, less challenging (considering plot, vocabulary, etc.), yet is still highly interesting. I make time throughout the unit to meet with these students. We read parts together. Sometimes I read or I partner them with a peer so that they hear fluent reading. Sometimes I have the student read, so that I can check in on their fluency. We talk about the plot, address misconceptions, and sometimes I offer them typed notes to supplement their own. These are just some reading strategies proves to support struggling readers in the middle school classroom.