Thursday, November 13, 2014

Disney Character Traits

Our class has been studying character traits. The kids are doing a great job finding character traits in a book and giving evidence to support their ideas. What has been hard is getting them to branch out and explore character traits that are new to them. 

Each third grade teacher provided their class with a character trait list, but I estimate that my students understood about a quarter of the traits on the list - maybe less than that. 

I wanted to find a way to get the kids to start thinking about these more complex character traits, but it had to be fun. Who wants to spend an hour looking up words in the dictionary? Plus, I have quite a few ELL kids this year and I knew they would need some kind of picture to show each character trait. I couldn't think of how to draw most of the character traits, so, for the moment, I was stuck.

Then I started thinking about my favorite place in the world... Disneyland. I wish there was a school at Disneyland so I could work there. It isn't even the rides - it is just the whole experience. Everything at Disneyland is tailored to bring enjoyment and happiness to people (except the prices). That is how I want my classroom to be.

That brought about my brain blast. Even my ELL kids are familiar with Disney movies. What if we could link famous Disney characters to these new character traits? Then kids would have a foundational understanding of what these words meant that we could build on using the dictionary or other classroom resources.

Here is the board I created...

It is impossible to read the words, but these are the character traits from our class list that I thought would be high-leverage words for the kids. I wasn't able to include all of the words on the list due to space constraints, but if the kids end up knowing half of these words really well, they will be in a good place for fourth grade next year.

Here is my sample to get everyone started. It is hard to read, but it says, "Alice is CURIOUS because she follows the White Rabbit to find out where he was going." Pretty simple, and many of my students know what curious means without an example, but with so many ELL kids I cast a wide net on the board.

This sample worked out really well because this morning - the first time the kids have seen the board, I got a great submission. "Elsa is MYSTERIOUS because she has magic, but she hides it from everyone." 

At the very least our board will spark some great conversations. I am really looking forward to seeing what the kids come up with over the next few weeks as they work on it during Daily 5 time.


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