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Expressing Ourselves in Character - Part II

Context for this Lesson

School District: 
School or Organization: 

GENERAL TOPIC:  Exploring Character                      

GRADE: 9-12th Life Skills

FOCUS QUESTIONS: What is inferencing? How do readers use inferencing skills in order to understand information about a character?


  • Blank chart paper
  • Markers
  • Triangle
  • Backpack with objects
  • Costume for T.I.R
  • Monologue written on chart paper



§110.31. English Language Arts and Reading, English I

(5)  Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Fiction. Students understand, make inferences

and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of fiction and provide evidence from

text to support their understanding. Students are expected to:

         (B)  analyze how authors develop complex yet believable characters in works of fiction

          through a range of literary devices


§110.32. English Language Arts and Reading

(3)  Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text. Students are expected to analyze the structure and graphic elements (e.g. punctuation).



§117.64. Theatre, Level I.

(2)  Creative expression/performance. The student interprets characters, using the voice

and body expressively, and creates dramatizations. The student is expected to:

                     (A)  demonstrate safe use of the voice and body;

         (B)  analyze a character from a script, describing physical, intellectual, emotional,    

          and social dimensions;




"Today we are going to continue developing our knowledge about characters, and we are going to focus on how to make inferences about our characters based off of information given to us. These include those physical traits that we might know about a character as well as internal traits. What is a physical trait? Allow for student response. What is an internal trait?" Allow for student response. "Writers often do not state directly the way a character feels. Instead, writers will include details about how a character acts and readers must use these details to make inferences about the character’s emotions. Today we are going to explore what it means to make inferences and how that will help us to understand characters and develop our own characters for our play. So lets begin by talking about inferencing."


Poster Dialogue

Facilitator and students will brainstorm about inferences and the difference between making direct observations and making inferences about a character. Facilitator will scribe on the poster, which will be used as a guide throughout the lesson. "Does anyone know what it means to infer or make inferences while reading a text?" Allow for student response. "Great! So, when you infer, you use a lot of different pieces of information"

  • Observations. What is an observation? (things that you see)
  • Prior knowledge. What does it mean to have prior knowledge about a topic? (Things you already know)
  • Experiences.
  • Details from the text. What other details from the text might tell you about a character?

"All of these pieces of information help you to come up with ideas about a character and give you more insight to that character and how he or she acts, what he or she likes, how he or she feels, etc. What other details in the text might tell you about a character? Allow for student response. Making inferences is like being a detective; you must look at all the details and put them together to come up with an idea and make an educated prediction about a character or situation. I know that inferencing can sound complicated, but you are making inferences all the time." Facilitator brings out Role on the Wall and punctuation chart from previous lessons and discusses with students how they made inferences about Rosa Parks based on the information they had learned in the story they read, as well as inferences they can make about the tone of a story or script based off of the punctuation used in the text.

Transition: "Okay, so now that we have more information about inferencing we are going to jump into an activity that will really challenge our inferencing skills! I would like for you all to join me at the back of the class and stand in a circle."


This Is Not A…

"We are going to do an activity called “This Is Not A…” For this activity I am going to show you an object and you are going to do an imagination challenge. The object of this game is to take this object and transform it into something different. For this round we are going to use this triangle (facilitator will hold up the triangle), and you are to come up with something else that the triangle could be. The only thing you cannot say is “triangle,” but anything else that is appropriate for school is okay. You are going to show your classmates and pantomime of what that object is, and we will have to use our inferencing skills to determine what you created the triangle into. You will all start by saying, “This is not a triangle, it’s a _______” followed by the action. Before we begin, I’d like for us to rehearse this together. Let’s brainstorm what this could be as a group. Think about foods, animals, buildings that may have the shape of a triangle, maybe logos, etc. Who can think of one?" As students brainstorm ideas for the activity, the facilitator writes the brainstormed list on chart paper, which is easily seen and accessed by all students for reference during the activity. Allow for student response. "Great! Let’s choose a nacho as our first practice round. So, I would say, “This is not a triangle, it is a _________” and then I would use my body to show this object as a nacho. How might I show my classmates that this is a nacho, without telling them? Allow for student response/pantomime. "That is a great representation of how I could pantomime eating a nacho! Let’s all practice that pantomime together. On the count of three I want to see your best nacho eating pantomimes. 1….2….3..GO!" Students and facilitator pantomime together. "Nice job! I think that you all have the hang of this. Do you have any questions before we begin? We will go around the circle and everyone will get a chance to play. I’d like everyone to give it a shot one time." Students will perform the activity. If there is enough time, they will do a second round using another object.



  • Think about objects that are in the shape of a triangle, possibly foods, animals, clothing…
  • How did you infer that it was a___________?
  • What clues did you use to infer that it was a _______?
  • Was it less or more difficult for you to use your imagination to transform the object?
  • Was it less or more difficult for you to determine what your classmates were pantomiming?


Transition: "Great work, class! You all discovered some very interesting ways to transform that object. I was very impressed by the way you all used inferencing skills to determine what your classmates were creating."


Character Bag


"Since you all are so great with inferencing, I’d really like your input. As I was walking into school today, I found a backpack outside. There’s no name on the backpack, but there are a lot of different objects inside of the backpack, and I was wondering if you guys would help me to figure out whom this might belong to? Let’s take a look." Facilitator will take each object out one at a time and the students will D.A.R. the objects and try to make inferences about this individual based on the contents of the backpack. Objects that will be in the backpack are a highlighted and annotated script, a pencil and highlighter rubber banded together, and a traveler’s coffee cup. The objects in the bag all belong to a character who is an actress. The character will come alive for students during a mini Mantle of the Expert.

  • Describe-What do you see?
  • Analyze- What do you already know about that object? Based on what you know, what can you infer that object might be used for?
  • Relate- What might these objects tell you about the owner of this bag? Who might the owner be?


Transition: "Wow, you guys made some very interesting inferences about this character! Well, I think that the owner of this backpack has come here to claim it! When I put on this jacket and glasses, I will become the owner of the bag, whose name is Tessa." Facilitator puts on jacket and glasses and steps into role as “Tessa.”


Mantle-of-the-Expert/ Teacher-in-Role


"Oh, hi there! My name is Tessa, but my friends call me Tess. I just wanted to thank you all so much for finding my backpack! I was waiting for the bus earlier today on my way to a meeting with my acting coach, and when I got on the bus I realized I had left my backpack sitting on the bench outside of your school. Needless to say, I missed my meeting, which is just TERRIBLE, because I have a HUGE audition for a play tomorrow. I needed to meet with my acting coach, so that I could practice my lines with him and get some helpful feedback before I go perform this tomorrow. You see, I am a very very nervous person and even though I love to act, I get so nervous when I have to read during an audition that I completely freeze up and forget what I am doing. I heard that you all have been learning about the best way to read scripts and portray characters for your own play, and was wondering if you all could help me practice before my big audition tomorrow? Great! Okay, so what I am going to do is show you a copy of my monologue that I have to read." “Tess” brings out monologue written largely and clearly on chart paper for all students to read. "Your teacher has written it out so that you all can see it clearly. I am going to act it out, but I need you to help guide me and correct me if I am doing something wrong! Be sure to pay attention to the punctuation, as well as how I portray the character’s feelings and actions. Are you ready?" The teacher in role begins by asking students to read the monologue, determining how the character is feeling in this monologue, so that “Tess” can use that one of voice while practicing her scripts. After students have determined how “Tess” might feel while acting this monologue out, TIR asks students to explain what in the text told them how she was feeling. Students begin to explain that punctuation tells a reader how to figure out the tone of the story. Students are then asked to identify punctuation found in the monologue (referencing previous lesson on punctuation). After they have circled each type of punctuation, “Tess” begins to read slowly each line of dialogue. Teacher reads without expression and does not use movements that correctly correspond with the actions of the character. As each line is read, students stop “Tess” and tell her what needs to be corrected, and how she can better read that line with expression. After students have corrected and helped “Tess” practice each line, “Tess” will read the whole monologue with expression for the students.


"WOW! You all helped me so much to better understand my monologue and gave me great advice as to how to perform this best and how to develop my character. Thank you all so much! I think that you are going to be great actors and actresses. I have to run, because I want to keep rehearsing this as much as I can before my audition tomorrow. I’m sure I will get the part, thanks to your help. Bye bye!"


Transition:"When I take off this jacket and these glasses, I am no longer Tess. I will step out of role. Facilitator removes costume and steps out of role. You all did an amazing job in putting the skills that we have learned in the past 3 weeks to work. Lets reflect upon this experience."


  • What did we do today?
  • What does it mean to make an inference?
    • What kinds of things can we infer about a character?
  • How does inferencing help us when we are reading?
    • How does punctuation help us to make inferences when we are reading?
  • How might we use what we learned today about inferencing be applicable in every day life outside of the classroom?