Not too long ago, I sat through a workshop that was meant to teach teachers something brand-new. I was in the room with teachers who had never used the instructional strategy before. As the day progressed, we read about the strategy, discussed the strategy, and brainstormed ideas for the strategy. But by the end of the day, several teachers left saying, “I still don’t know how to actually do it. What am I supposed to do? What does it look like?”
How often do our kids feel that way during a lesson? Sometimes we’re a little too broad, and our most struggling kids get lost. To really support our struggling students, I worked with a group of special education students who were getting ready for their big test. We focused on a few important reading skills. In fiction, we really spent a lot of time on making inferences.
We wanted to really focus on a few things to make inferences as concrete as possible (which isn’t very).
We focused on looking for three kinds of evidence: what the character says, what the character does, and what other character say about them. I started out building the anchor chart above with the kids. We hunted through a sample paragraph, searching for the three types of clues. We marked it with yellow and then annotated on the margin to state what that piece of evidence told us about the character. The phrase “We can tell” is helpful to get kids thinking about what they logically know.
Then, we did a little team practice. Each team of three received a set of character trait cards. On each card was a little paragraph describing a character. The kids hunted through the cards, marking evidence about the characters’ traits with a highlighter. Then they used a list of character traits to decide on an appropriate trait for that character.
The next step is to take it to real reading. As students read their independent reading books, have them choose a character and locate some text evidence. Then they can record it on the graphic organizer below, using the evidence to make inferences about that character.
You can grab this freebie here, at Google Drive!
And you can get the Character Trait Cards in 41 Character Analysis Charts, Activities & Tools on TPT.