CommonLit Support Elementary Students with Analyzing Character Change: 5 Skills-Based Comprehension Lessons from CommonLit’s Digital Literacy Program

Tracing how characters change over the course of a text is a critical skill of every great reader. As students age, the texts and characters they encounter become increasingly complex, so building a strong foundation of character analysis in elementary school is fundamental for student reading comprehension.

Sound overwhelming? Don’t worry, CommonLit has your back! These scaffolded Target Lessons from our online library will teach students strategies for analyzing character change with texts your students are sure to enjoy!

Target Lessons are easy-to-use skills based lessons that feature high-interest texts, scaffolded instructional questions, and quick reading assessments, providing students extra opportunitites to practice key reading comprehension skills. They are great for introducing a new skill with a gradual release, facilitating small group lessons, or as a form of reading intervention.

Each of these Target Lessons from CommonLit’s online reading program are designed to build student engagement and allow ample practice opportunities with the key skill of analyzing character change.

Athena and the Dandelions” (3rd grade)

Leeann Zouras’ inviting short story shares how the main character, Athena’s, attitude about her family’s upcoming dinner party changes throughout the text.

While reading the text, CommonLit’s in-text questions provide opportunities for students to analyze Athena’s point of view while teachers gradually release the work to students. With a mix of multiple choice and short answer responses, these moments are great checks for understanding to help students support their analysis with evidence as well!

The View From Left Field” (3rd grade)

This motivational short story by Kelley Murphy is sure to interest students, as the main character, Kylie, has to deal with the disappointment of not being assigned to the position of catcher during her softball game.

This lesson begins with a quick picture warm-up, activating students’ background knowledge and giving them the chance to share their knowledge. Then, students watch a short video focused on noticing clues that suggest character change in order to prepare them to read the text.

Students answer scaffolded questions during-reading focused on Kylie’s point of view during multiple moments of the game. This targeted practice prepares students to articulate how Kylie’s feelings about softball change during their assessment questions at the end of the lesson.  

Mo of the Mudflat” (4th grade)

This lesson is great for supporting students in analyzing character change. The main character, Salma, has just moved and views her new home as gross and smelly. Before starting the lesson, students are provided a picture and definition of a mudflat in order to prepare them with knowledge of the story’s setting. After this, a short video introduces students to the key skill.

If your students need extra support while reading this text, CommonLit’s accessibility features like read aloud, translation, and digital annotation are at students’ fingertips! These features are always accessible in the upper right corner of the text for students.

Cracks of Gold” (4th grade)

This Target Lesson will give your students plenty of opportunities to analyze character change and practice their short answer responses! This heartwarming short story shares Benjamin’s new beginning, as Benjamin breaks a family heirloom while moving and relies on a new neighbor to repair it.

At the end of this lesson, students will not only be able to name how the main character changed but also name the lesson he learned with short assessment questions that provide teachers with great formative data.

The Human Zamboni” (5th grade)

This short story by Jennifer Sneed tells the story of Harper, a teenage ice skater who must decide if she wants to continue the sport after she suffers a setback. Students begin the lesson by building background knowledge around figure skating and the specific tool of a Zamboni. Then, jump into this heartfelt text.

CommonLit’s during-reading questions featured on Target Lessons are a great way to add accountability and segment the text for students. Our digital literacy platform blurs the text after the question, requiring students to answer it in order to move forward. It can be turned on and off when you assign a lesson, making it a great way to provide additional scaffolding and support differentiation.

Next Steps

Want a deep dive into the instructional supports available on CommonLit? Check out our upcoming webinars!

Want more scaffolded practice with the skill of finding the central message? We now have at least one Target Lesson for each standard for every grade at the elementary level. Check out the Target Lessons related to theme and summary.