Names and physical description of Characters are generally not problematic for a child. However, personality traits, motivation, and perspectives are more difficult. Multiple characters may be difficult to hold in memory. Our Character maps help in this area (Braidy the StoryBraid map, below left; Story Grammar Marker map, below right).
When we use our character maps, we focus on:
— WHAT THINKS.
— WHAT SAYS.
— WHAT DOES.
Review the SGM character with the students. Read Chapter 1 of The Trumpet of the Swans to the students. You may have the students work individually, in pairs, or in a teacher led group lesson depending on the students. Filling in a Character Map as you a begin a book with the students is a wonderful intervention activity for those who are working with students who struggle with comprehension.
Review the chapter with the students, reading short segments at a time and filling in the map(or discussing what the students have filled in) with the students. One strategy we have found helpful is to read short segments, make a list of characteristics, and then go over each one and put in the appropriate category on the Character Map.
As you can see from the sample above, a listing and then putting into categories would serve as a great teaching stragtegy.
Notice how at times we used an actual definition. A suggestion that proved helpful to one of our teachers was to have a students keep a “Characteristic Dictionary” where they would write the word, a brief description of the characteristic, and the character the showed this trait. Another teacher kept an ongoing list of characteristics and character names from various stories throughout the school year. It made for a great review of stories and character traits at the end of the school year and was well worth the effort.
Below find the completed character map from the first chapter of The Trumpet of the Swan. Yours may vary a bit.
Available on the reverse side of our Building Characteristics mini-poster is a wonderful activity that would be perfect for a partner activity or center activity. See the sample below using the characteristic, observant.
On a closing note, this chapter is an excellent choice to combine narrative and expository text structures. You could begin mapping the story out using the SGM icons and then focus on gathering information on Trumpeter swans. Sam, as observant and knowledgeable about birds as he is, has given us some good starting information to build on in this one chapter!