Character Wants vs. Obstacles Minilesson

My classes are currently in the midst of a unit in reading workshop focusing on character’s journeys, both internal and external. Earlier this week we looked at what characters really wants and on Wednesday I did a really great lesson on the obstacles that stand in their way. I thought I would share the lesson here.

I began by reviewing our lesson on character wants and desires. We then talked about what Jason, the main character in Anything But Typical (our current read aloud). My kids did a great job finding Jason’s immediate desires and his larger, overall wants. They also looked at Jason’s mom’s desires for him.

At that point we stopped and I explained that no character gets what they want without a fight. We talked about TV shows that my students enjoy watching and they shared that they would not enjoy them as much if there wasn’t a lot of drama. Degrassi was the show they really focused on and a few students shared obstacles that stood in the way of what a few main characters wanted.

At that point we read a few more pages of Anything But Typical and stopped to do some think-alouds, looking for obstacles that stood between Jason and his mother getting what they wanted. After a few class think-alouds, they students worked independently on our final think-aloud.

At that point, I told them I would be sharing with them one of my favorite picture books, and that we would be looking at what the three characters wanted and what stood in their way.  The picture book I chose to use was Fox by Margaret Wild. I love this picture book because the illustrations are gorgeous and the text is deep. It is the perfect picture book for older readers.

Each student copied a small table into their reading binder that looked like this:

Character: Wants…..: Obstacles in the way:

We listed the three characters- Dog, Magpie, and Wolf. I told the class that as I read they should stop & jot whenever they thought they knew what the character wanted “more than anything else in the world”. They should also stop & jot the obstacle(s) standing in the way.

Fox is a great choice for this activity because while there are only three characters, they are fairly complex. The students had a lot of fun trying to figure out what Fox, especially, wanted and what stood in his way. After I read the book they wrote a quick paragraph about their thoughts and shared them with a neighbor. Then we came up with a class copy of the chart that we displayed on the smartBoard. They did a fantastic job deciding what each character wanted and noticing the obstacle(s) in their way. It was a great lesson!