What A Character!

Presented by: Gerard Johnson

Subject Area(s):

Grade Level(s):


What a character! We all know someone who stands out as a real character...someone in our neighborhood, or even in our school, maybe even a teacher you have had. In literature too, there are characters who we will remember forever.

In this lesson students are invited to explore some characters in a short story and a featured article from a "Reader's Digest." This time they are invited to use some tools to get a clearer picture of the characterization of the character they are reading about and then be able to extract information about the character into a graphic organizer. Then, the student is invited to write about the character in an essay that will give them practice in writing and assessing their writing. Finally, the student will be able to write an essay without the scaffolding, but with support of a graphic organizer about a memorable character that good characterization evokes.

Goals & Objectives:

Students will be able to extract specific information about a character from a short story.


Students will be able to extract information about a character from the author's (narrator's) point of view of the story.


Students will be able to extract information from the thoughts and words spoken by the character in the story.


Students will be able to extract information about the character from the actions of the character in the story.


Students will be able to extract information about the character from the reactions of other characters in the story.


Students will be able to write an essay about a character using information extracted from the story.


Students will able to write an essay about a character with the information that they can extract from the graphic organizer about a character. 


Intro Picture (see Supporting Files) 

4 graphic organizers (see Supporting Files)

Rubrics (see Supporting Files)

Adaption of instructions from the New York State Regents.


Rowan, Carl T. "Unforgettable Miss Bessie." Reader's Digest March 1985. from

                W.C. Bryant High School web page on 10/20/07 at

                http://wcbryanths.nycschools.gov.  (also attached in Supporting



Short Story: "The Man From the South" by Roald Dahl


Students will see the phrase "What a Character!" and a generic character when they enter the room.  They will work in groups of four and identify a character that they remember from their neighborhood. The teacher will ask, "Why do you remember this character?" 


After sharing their answers and putting the information on the blackboard the teacher will lead them to a story about a character that they will characterize with the use of a graphic organizer.  The students will be given a graphic organizer which will give them a tool to work with to extract information that the author used to characterize the character. 


The story that will be used is a short story by Roald Dahl "The Man from the South."  The class will start to read the story aloud and the teacher will guide them in the use of the graphic organizer so that they understand how to use it before they are left to finish the reading and filling in of the graphic organizer on their own. 


Students will share how they have completed the graphic organizer with their groups and with the class on the blackboard. This completion of the first exercise with the whole class will help them to continue with the homework successfully. 


For homework they will use the same story and identify the characterization of the protagonist of the story using the same graphic organizer. The following day the students will share their graphic organizer with their groups  as well as with their classmates on the blackboard. They will then be given a short essay to write in which they will use the information that they have put into their graphic organizer. 


After they have completed the task, the students will use the writing rubric to access their essays in groups of four.  Each student will assess at least two essays and will also assess an essay in which there is a divergence in the scores of at least two points.  After the students have completed the task they will have a discussion about what makes a good essay about characterization. 


The following day students will be given a test essay question that mimics the NY State English Regents.  The essays will be assessed with the English writing rubric.


The assessment of this lesson will be done with the English Writing Rubric

[See Supporting Files for a Regents Scoring Guide - Page 3 has a sample rubric from January 2009]

Supporting Files: