"There is not much point in writing a novel unless you can show the possibility of moral
transformation, or an increase in wisdom, operating in your chief character or characters."
As Anthony Burgess insists they should, so many stories contain lessons that the main character learns and grows from. It is important for students not only to recognize these transformations, but also to understand how the story's events affected the characters. In accordance with the National Language Arts Content Standards as well as state of Connecticut standards, students are expected to use what they know to identify or infer important characters, settings, themes, events, ideas, relationships, or details within a work and draw conclusions about the author's purpose. I teach 6
grade at Nathan Hale School in New Haven, CT. My 6
grade class is in an urban district and is composed of a diverse, multicultural community of learners that embodies a wide range of achievements, interests, learning, and social needs. It is a school that has a strong neighborhood support structure; therefore the majority of the students enrolled are from the neighborhood.
Students between the ages of eleven and twelve are transitioning from a concrete way of thinking to a more analytical thinking process. According to Piaget's theories of cognitive development, moving from the concrete stage of development to the formal operational stage of development, individuals become able to think abstractly, reason logically, and draw conclusions. This unit will strengthen students' ability to recognize and identify aspects of literature that will allow them to analyze characters more deeply.
As a teacher I am constantly being observed, evaluated, criticized, and interpreted - by my students. Twenty-seven children enter my classroom each year with a strongly formulated opinion of me. Some of these opinions are loosely based on fact, while others are formed from a combination of observations of isolated events and hearsay and rumors from other students. Even as the school year progresses the scrutiny continues. Students "learn" facial expressions, body language, and the tone of my voice to determine my mood or demands daily. This occurs without any formal lessons or instructions - pure human nature. This is especially true in a middle school setting. My students rely on these observations and inferences to "survive" sixth grade. I am not the only one being observed so closely. They are equally hard on their peers. While all of this happens so instinctively, I find myself wondering why these judgments, inferences, and conclusions are so difficult for my students to make in regard to characters in a text.