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Lesson Plan

Word Maps: Developing Critical and Analytical Thinking About Literary Characters

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Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Patricia Alejandra Lastiri

Patricia Alejandra Lastiri

Villanova d'Asti, Asti


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Word maps can help students represent and analyze the various feelings, thoughts, and actions of a character in a story. In this lesson, students read the short story "After Twenty Years" by O. Henry and focus on the two main characters in the story. With the use of a word map, they identify the characters' qualities or traits based on their actions. They discuss the characters' feelings and actions, reflecting upon these in their journals and making connections to their own lives.

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Literary Elements Map: Students will use this interactive tool to analyze the characters and the story.

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Bluestein A.N. (2002). Comprehension through characterization: Enabling readers to make personal connections with literature. The Reading Teacher, 55(5), 431434.

  • In this article, the author gives a clear example of how students can make personal connections with a text by identifying with the characters in a story.

  • Students often have a better understanding of characters in a story when they find that the characters have "the same personality traits as themselves and people in their own lives." (431)

  • Word maps can help activate prior knowledge of a topic and thereby prepare students to better understand the characters in a story.

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