Teaching Character Analysis Essay

Product Description

Character Analysis Essay Graphic Organizer

I created this product to use while writing character analysis essays in my 5th grade classroom. It could easily be used with younger students as well with additional teaching and support.

This graphic organizer is to be used after students read a story and match character traits to the main events in a story. They will need explicit instruction in identifying character traits before completing this organizer.

After learning about character traits, students can use this organizer to identify different character traits present in one character throughout a story.

This organizer can then be used to model ways to turn their ideas into paragraphs, resulting in a complete character analysis essay.

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Hand out all copies of the various worksheets before beginning each part of the lesson.

Part I

Step 1: Introduce the literary elements and definitions in the worksheet Literary Elements and Definitions (PDF). Have students read through each of the elements and definitions aloud.

Step 2: Using the short story "La Bamba" by Gary Soto, identify examples of the literary elements as a class. You may want to project the worksheet so the class can follow along as you complete the "Class Example" column of the worksheet. Conduct a class discussion and allow students to ask questions if necessary.

Step 3: Have students fill out the "My Own Example" column using characters from another story or book they have read recently. Assess understanding of the various elements by quizzing students orally.

Part II

Step 4: Using a designated short story from the collection or a book they have read recently and the Character Analysis Graphic Organizer (PDF), have students begin analyzing a character of their choosing. This may be facilitated in groups or as an independent activity.

Part III

Step 5: Introduce the Character T-shirt using your teacher sample. Show how an understanding of literary elements dealing with character was needed in order to create it. Hand out the Character Analysis T-Shirt Project Instructions (PDF) and go over with the class. Optional: You can also review the Character Analysis T-Shirt Project Rubric (PDF) at this time.

Step 6: Allow students to begin creating their Character T-shirts. This project may be completed in class or as an at-home assignment.

Lesson Extensions

By extending the lesson, I integrate language arts and reading standards with the multiple intelligences. Any standards-aligned rubric or project rubric can work for the assessment of these activities.

  • Hold a class discussion about the different characters that were chosen by students. Discuss their traits and qualities, then compare and contrast their similarities and differences. Allow students to support their opinions of the characters by conducting a debate. Challenge students to support their opinions with facts from the stories.
  • Have a Character T-shirt Day, where students come to school dressed in their T-shirt and promote the story/novel from which the character comes.
  • Make up flyers to promote daily reading.
  • With permission from the teacher, act out a scene during lunch or class with students from the same class.
  • During break or lunch time, orally read a passage from the story/novel.
  • Post a picture of the Character T-shirt on the Class Homepage.
  • Create a poem in the first person narrative about the character and read it in front of the class.
  • Hang the shirts up in class as examples of the various ways to do character analysis.


  • Did students respond to the way I introduced the literary elements?
  • Did using Soto's "La Bamba" as an exemplar help students understand how to find various literary elements?
  • Did I provide them with the ability to get started right away?
  • Did students develop an overall understanding of character analysis? Was their understanding evident in their Character Analysis worksheet?
  • Did students remain on task during various activities?
  • Did students create Character T-Shirts that represented an accurate understanding of character analysis? Were students able to articulate their analysis of character in the extended lesson?
  • Should I change anything in the way I model or teach this lesson?

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