Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fiction Inferences: Character Emotions

Our state testing has provided a nice way to transition from our study of text structure into fiction inferences. As I look ahead, I'm excited to be going back to learning about character emotions, delving into character traits, and trying out literature circles.

Springtime fourth graders are so different from autumn fourth graders, which makes the study of literature exciting. They are can find details in stories that they couldn't see before, grasp some deeper ideas, and make some new connections. It's a great time to be a fourth grade teacher.

Making inferences about emotions and traits
It's important for students to be able to see how they can make inferences about characters and traits. But many readers are limited by a meager vocabulary. When I give readers organized lists of words, they can see the shades of meaning and make stronger inferences. (And word lists are such an efficient way to help students learn many new words at once!)

For example, I shared the word chart below with students as we read the book Shortcut by Donald Crews. We talked about how the children's initial worried feeling deepened to panic when they jumped off the tracks to avoid the oncoming freight train. When students work with these lists with their partners, their talk includes deeper, richer language: Are the characters anxious or relieved? Are they content or cheerful?

Other good books for looking at emotions:

Sunflower House by Eve Bunting

My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother by Patricia Polacco

I Will Surprise My Friend! by Mo Willems

Squanto's Journey by Joseph Bruchac

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