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Lesson Plan

Bright Morning: Exploring Character Development in Fiction

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Bright Morning: Exploring Character Development in Fiction

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 40 minutes
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



After reading Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell, or another book from the provided book list, students brainstorm a list of words to describe the main character, Bright Morning. They then narrow the list down to the six descriptors that tell the most about her. Next, they search the book for places that show Bright Morning fits the first descriptor on their list. Finally, they work independently, with small group support, to find textual support for another of the characteristics on their list. They mark the text with stick-on notes and write to explain their choices. An online character map tool serves as an assessment for the lesson.

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Alternative Books and Characters for Exploring Character Development in Fiction: This book list includes books appropriate for students in grades 3-5 that would work well as an alternative text for this lesson.

Story Map: Use the character map section of this online tool as an alternative assessment for the lesson.

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Thinking about how an author writes to make a character "come alive" in a piece of literature is a strategy that may be challenging to many readers. It's an important strategy, however, not only because it encourages students to examine the text more closely in an evaluative way but also because it can be a useful aid in strengthening characterization in their own writing.

This lesson uses large-group (or "whole-class") instruction. These whole-class literature experiences are important for establishing a sense of community, for creating a classroom's "language" and common frame of reference. Students can refer to the book they are working with when they read other titles and make connections-for instance, "This character is just like the one we read last week."

Further Reading

This lesson is based on Deb Foertsch's Large-Group Instruction, as described in Sierra-Perry, Martha. 1996. Standards in Practice: Grades 3-5. Urbana: NCTE. pp. 2-25.

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