Investigating Characterization by Mary Ehrenworth, Katy Wischow. Author-Study
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Investigating Characterization

Investigating Characterization

Author-Study Book Clubs

By Mary Ehrenworth, Katy Wischow

Part of the Units of Study in Teaching Reading, Middle School Grades, this unit strikes a delicate balance between encouraging readers to hold on to the magic of reading, allowing them to slip longingly into the pages of a compelling story, and presenting readers with opportunities to engage in meta-analysis, fostering an appreciation of the craft of the text as well as the story.

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This product is part of the series:  The Units of Study for Teaching Reading Series


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Full Description

About the Unit

This unit of study focuses readers on studying not just characters, but characterization, or how authors create multifaceted characters replete with weakness and strengths, complex relationships with others, and life lessons they learn and teach. The unit strikes a delicate balance between encouraging readers to hold on to the magic of reading, allowing them to slip longingly into the pages of a compelling story, and presenting readers with opportunities to engage in meta-analysis, fostering an appreciation of the craft of the text as well as the story.

Throughout the unit readers will:

  • come to apprentice themselves to characters they discover in realistic fiction
  • explore how authors use perspective, point of view, and the management of time across the story to control readers’ sympathy and experience of epiphanies
  • consider moments or scenes in narratives as windows into characters
  • learn to think and talk like readers who are also writers with their own checklists of authorial techniques
  • develop the ability to reread and rethink as they examine stories through multiple lenses

Note: This unit is recommended as a way to launch your reading workshop practice in the beginning of the school year when taught in grades 7 and 8 as it pays particular attention to building readers’ habits in addition to their interpretation skills.

About the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Middle School Grades

We want our middle grades students to become flexible, resilient readers, we want them to have a toolkit of strategies for dealing with difficulty, and we want them to read broadly and deeply, alert to the intricacies of texts and to the power of language. To accomplish such ambitious goals, we need classroom structures and resources that support this kind of explicit teaching and learning. The reading workshop offers a simple and predictable framework for teaching strategies and for giving students feedback while they are in the midst of the ever-changing, complex reading work they will do across the middle school grades.  

The Units of Study for Teaching Reading series saves teachers hundreds of hours of planning, freeing time for analyzing student work, working with individuals and small groups, and for studying with colleagues. The series provides teachers with the tools and support they need to move students quickly and efficiently toward grade-level expectations, while also helping kids become proficient, lifelong readers.

Purchasing Recommendation and Options

The Middle School Reading Units of Study are sold as separate units suitable for grades 6-8. Visit UnitsofStudy.com/MSRUOS for suggested sequencing across grade levels. In addition to purchasing your individual units, be sure to order A Guide to Reading Workshop: Middle School Grades, which offers teachers and administrators a comprehensive guide to conducting reading workshop for middle school students.

Purchasing Options: Choose Investigating Characterization: Author Study Book Clubs with Trade Book Pack  if your library does not already include the read-aloud texts referenced in the Unit. If you do not need the trade book pack, purchase Investigating Characterization: Author Study Book Clubs without the Trade Book Pack (as shown in this product bundle).

Companion Resources

Read-Aloud Texts (included in the Trade Book Pack bundle)

The Investigating Characterization: Author Studies Book Clubs trade pack bundle includes the following mentor text, which is recommended as a read-aloud text for this unit.

  • Flying Lessons & Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh

Independent Reading for Students:

The following TCRWP Classroom Libraries shelves were curated to specifically align with this unit:

A Guide to Reading Workshop: Middle School Grades

In addition to purchasing your individual units, be sure to order A Guide to Reading Workshop: Middle School Grades, which offers teachers and administrators a comprehensive guide to conducting reading workshop for middle school students.

Supporting Materials

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Getting Started with the Middle School Reading Units

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