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Ideas for Creating a 3-D Character from Today’s M.L. Active Engagement

First, I have to say that today’s lesson I taught, which was adapted from Session 11 of Calkins & Cruz’s Book on Fiction Writing in Grades 3 – 5 is AWESOME. It’s all about revising with different lenses.

My students read my story yesterday and commented on it, which was helpful to me. One thing they said is that they weren’t quite sure who the main character was since it felt like there were two. Therefore, I realized I needed to further develop my main character.

During today’s Active Engagement, I asked them to think about my secondary character, the mean girl, and what I could do to make her jump off of the page. (The A.E. that I gave them is in the image attached to this post. Their comments are in red underneath the typed part of the lesson.)

Active Engagement Text with Children's Suggestions for Character Improvement

Active Engagement Text with Children’s Suggestions for Character Improvement

Originally uploaded by teachergal

I think my students’ comments were so insightful. I could tell some of them didn’t want to offend me; they were so respectful with the constructive criticism they gave me. When one student told me what she pictured my secondary character, Beatrice, to look like, I said, “Oh no! That’s not what I want you to picture in our head at all! I need to fix Beatrice up and make her the way I see her come out on the page.” This student looked like she thought I was upset with her. Therefore, I clarified and said, “I’m so glad you told me what you were picturing in your mind. This is going to help me be a better writer when I’m revising since I want my characters to be clear to you.”

I wasn’t kidding! I was so glad she said this.

This makes me think that we need to continue to open up our writing (i.e., our imperfect drafts) to our students as much as possible so they can understand what we struggle with. I open up my notebook to them all the time, but this is the first working draft I’m really having a tough time with… I think it helped them to see my struggle and to give me suggestions (I know it sure helped me as a writer who needs to revise tonight!).

Stacey Shubitz View All

I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.

I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

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