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4 Steps to Teach Character Traits

Understanding how to teach character traits to students so they learn how to identify them can be challenging. If you’re a teacher who has the responsibility of making sure they grasp this concept, here are four steps that can help organize yourself and teach it so students learn.

Step 1: Begin With a Definition and List


Identifying specific character traits should be more comfortable for students to complete when they clearly understand what to look for when reading. Defining and discussing this topic is one of the best ways to get started. Explaining the difference between emotions and character traits should also be helpful. Discussing the difference and indicating that emotions are usually a quick expression of how a character feels in a fleeting moment, which may be due to an outside force, helps clarify the difference. Having them understand that character traits come from the inside and is part of a character’s personality should be helpful.

Providing a list of character traits to your students should offer them several examples they can utilize. Words such as balanced, careful, considerate, disciplined, lively, organized, reliable, strong and wise are just a few examples.

Step 2: Focusing on Thoughts


One of the first strategies your students can use to identify character traits is to focus on a character’s thoughts. If one of the characters is telling the story, there’s an excellent chance they’ll portray their thoughts periodically. Tracking this character throughout the story should provide a list of their most common traits. For example, if a character in the story is in a situation where one of their friends doesn’t get invited to a group birthday party, they may make a mental note of this and plan on inviting this friend when they have a birthday party. This type of thinking indicates compassion.

Step 3: Analyzing Their Actions


Discussing the actions taken by characters in the story is another excellent method to use when you’re trying to identify their character traits. An example of this strategy would be to analyze the actions a character takes when they are in a specific situation. For example, if a student is supposed to give a speech in class and perfectly handles the situation by standing tall, using a good tone and keeping eye contact with the audience indicates the character trait of confidence.

Step 4: The Words a Character Uses


Paying attention to the words used by a character can also provide insight into their character traits. For example, if a character is always saying, “Hello” to everyone they meet, it’s probably safe to assume they have a friendly character trait. A recent Adobe Education Exchange article said, “students can work individually or in groups.” Having them work in groups may make it more straightforward for some students to understand the concept as they’ll get help from their peers.

Show them instead of telling them by taking them to charity team building events where they can learn and groom. 

Following each of these steps should help make it more efficient to highlight and define specific character traits. Knowing what to look for when your students are reading a story and focusing on the thoughts, actions and words of a single character should make it highly efficient for your class to learn this concept.


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