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Character Quotations


The character quotations activity helps prepare students to read a novel or historical text by building prior knowledge of key figures in the text.  Students examine quotations from the key characters, and brainstorm lists of traits, qualities, and descriptors for each character. 


Catherine Ullman-Shade

Learning Strategies 

  • Inferring
  • Predicting
Assessing Prior Knowledge, Building Background, Character Analysis, Point of View

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Launching Into New Content

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Reading

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Building Knowledge in the Discipline


  • Select the text you want students to read.
  • Identify one to five key characters from the text.  Characters can be fictional or real historical figures.
  • Identify a set of quotations spoken by each character that reveal something about the character, such as their background, motivation, personality, intention, or interests.
Activity Steps 
  1. Teacher provides a basic introduction to the text or topic, and reviews the concept of character. Teacher leads brief discussion about what we can learn about a person from what that person says.

    When this activity is first introduced, the teacher should model reading a quotation, and generating a list of information gleaned or inferred about the character from the quotation.

  2. Teacher distributes a set of quotations spoken by each of the key characters. Students prepare to work alone or in pairs or small groups.

    You may want to prepare a template upon which students can record their ideas in a structured way.

  3. Students read each quotation, and brainstorm a list of what they can learn or infer about each character from the quotation.
    Assure students that it is OK to make predictions or inferences that may not ultimately be supported, but that any such inferences should clearly be logically drawn from the text.  Ask students guiding questions like:
    What is this character interested in?
    What does this character want?
    Where does this character come from?
    What historical period is this set in?
    What is the character’s socioeconomic status?
    How old is the character?
    What words describe the character?


  4. Students get together in a larger group, and share what they brainstormed about each character. They compare and contrast their ideas.

    This stage can be completed as a whole group, or in small groups.

  5. Alone or in groups, in conversation or in writing, students reflect on their learning process.
    Students respond to questions including:
    How does this activity prepare you to understand a text?
    How does familiarity with a character support your reading comprehension?
    How might you use this activity independently?
    In what other context might this activity be useful?
Downloadable Resources 
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