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. ย 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!

One Response

  1. I love this-thanks for sharing! Two years ago I went to Teachers College’s Reading Institute and they talked about the same thing-character’s pressures and how he/she pushes against it.

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