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Before beginning the lesson on how to write a characterization paragraph, review the four basic types of characters:
- Dynamic characters -- they change during the story
- Static characters -- they don't change during the story
- Round characters -- they are fully developed and show a range of emotions
- Flat characters -- they only have one side to their personality
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Teach Parts of a Paragraph
Before students can write a paragraph, they need to know the parts of a paragraph: topic sentence, body and conclusion. To help students organize their paragraphs, try the fill-in-the-blank topic sentence and concluding sentence. In addition, make a list of three supporting details for the body so that students can successfully organize their first characterization paragraph.
Students should write out the three parts of the paragraph on notebook paper by following the directions.
The topic sentence should tell the reader what the "topic" of the sentence is and include a controlling idea. An example of a topic sentence for the characterization paragraph is as follows:
In the novel Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan, Jake Semple is a dynamic character.
For the characterization paragraph, the students could try this fill-in-the-blank topic sentence to get started.
In the novel, (book title) __________________ by (author)_____________________ the character (name of character) ________________________ is a (type of character: dynamic, static, round, or flat) _______________________ character.
In the body of the paragraph, students need to include detail sentences that support their topic sentence. If students tell that a character is dynamic, they need to give specific examples from the novel to support this statement.
Have them first make a list of three reasons why the character is the type of character they chose.
For example, three reasons to support the example topic sentence in this lesson, which states that Jake Semple is a dynamic character, are as follows:
- When Jake first comes to the Applewhite home called Wit's End, he is a juvenile delinquent who has been thrown out of many schools. He is a chain-smoking, spiky-haired punk. At first he enjoys the "bad boy" image, but by the end he does change by enjoying helping Destiny, an annoying four-year-old.
- At first he does not get along with E.D., who is super organized and is close in age. However, they are homeschooled together and have to create their own projects. He actually enjoys finding butterflies and finds the one that she cannot find. They learn in the end to appreciate each other’s talents.
- Also, Jake finds that he has a talent for acting in the Appelwhite's staged production of the Sound of Music. He has success on the stage and has a place where he thrives.
The conclusion should wrap up the essay. An example concluding sentence for the Jake Semple paragraph could be as follows:
Jake Semple goes from a smoking, juvenile delinquent teen to a star of the Sound of Music, and he truly changes into a better person.
For first time writers, they can fill in the blanks of this concluding sentence:
In conclusion, (character’s name) ____________ is a (type of character) ___________ character who (a summary of the character’s actions) _________________.
Once the topic sentence, detail sentences and conclusion are written, students can put together the parts and write a complete paragraph. The paragraph should be at least five sentences, but it can be up to ten sentences. A good paragraph will generally be around six to eight sentences.
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A Lesson on Writing a Characterization Paragraph
The following series shows teachers how to teach students how to write different kinds of paragraphs.