Analyzing Character: Who Is Lyddie? | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M2A:U1:L5

Analyzing Character: Who Is Lyddie?

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can analyze the interaction of literary elements of a story or drama. (RL.7.3)
  • I can cite several pieces of text-based evidence to support an analysis of literary text. (RL.7.1)
  • I can effectively engage in discussions with diverse partners about seventh-grade topics, texts, and issues. (SL.7.1)
  • I can explain how ideas presented in different media and formats clarify a topic, text or issue. (SL.7.2)

Supporting Targets

  • By engaging in a discussion with my classmates, I can analyze the characterization of the central character and deepen my understanding of the plot, characters, and setting in Lyddie.
  • I can find textual evidence to illustrate the character traits of Lyddie.
  • I can clarify and extend my understanding of the setting of Lyddie by watching a video about the mill towns.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Entry task
  • Reader's Notes Chapters 1-7
  • Acrostic poem with textual evidence


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Entry Task: Checking for Understanding (10 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Synthesizing Ideas About Lyddie's Character: Acrostic Poem (20 minutes)

B. Building Background Knowledge: Watching a Clip from the Mill Times Video (10 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Reading Aloud Chapter 8 (5 minutes)

4. Homework

A. Read Chapter 8 of Lyddie and complete Reader's Notes for Chapter 8.

  • In this lesson, students thoroughly analyze Lyddie, the central character of the book. Work Time A serves to synthesize the discussion of Lyddie's character that students have done in Lessons 2, 3, and 4.
  • This character analysis is important preparation for the end of unit assessment, in which students will write an argumentative essay about whether Lyddie should sign the petition at the mills. In order to decide whether Lyddie should sign the petition, students need a thorough understanding of who Lyddie is, what she cares about, what motivates her, etc. Taking the time to explore the question "Who is Lyddie?" also will help deepen students' engagement with and enjoyment of the text.
  • Students will also watch a short video to help them visualize the working conditions at the mill. It will also help them understand the complex descriptions of the loom and mill in the next part of the book.
  • As noted in the Unit 1 Overview, Mill Times is a recommended video for this unit. For this lesson and Lesson 8, specific clips from Mill Times are suggested. If you cannot access these, several other options are included in the unit overview. Show only the selected clip, not the full video.
  • In advance: Cue up video for Mill Times.
  • Review: Chapters 6 and 7 in LyddieLyddie Reader's Notes, Chapter 6 and Chapter 7, Teacher's Edition.
  • Post: Learning targets.


characterization, strengths, weaknesses, hardships, hopes; manufacture (39), intrusion (40), intruder (39), conveyed (40), notions (40), penniless (42), snare (43), grimaced (44), impertinent (44), burden (44), obliged (47), alight, hapless (49), stout (50), boardinghouse, foreboding (51)


  • Checking for Understanding, Chapters 6 and 7 entry task (one per student)
  • Document camera
  • Lyddie (book; one per student)
  • Model Acrostic Poem (one for display)
  • Planning Your Poem (one per student)
  • Mill Times video clip (see Unit 1 overview for details) (show from 28:45-33:50)
  • Sticky notes (one per student)
  • Working Conditions anchor chart (from Lesson 1)
  • Lyddie Reader's Notes, Chapter 8 (one per student)
  • Lyddie Reader's Notes, Chapter 8, Teacher's Edition (for Teacher Reference)



A. Entry Task: Checking for Understanding (10 minutes)

  • Distribute Checking for Understanding, Chapters 6 and 7 entry task to students. Remind them that they can use their Reader's Notes, but not the book itself, to answer these questions.
  • Direct students to complete the entry task individually. As they do so, circulate to check the Reader's Notes (Chapters 6 and 7) for completion. If students have been working with a Reader's Notes packet, you will collect the packet that includes Reader's Notes for Chapters 1-7 at the end of the class period.
  • Depending on your plans for collecting this work, you can either collect the entry task as students finish and before they discuss the questions, or you can have students keep their papers and correct them as the class discusses the questions.
  • Debrief the entry task. Make sure students understand that Lyddie was fired and that she decided to go to Lowell to work in the mills.
  • Follow up the last questions with an explanation that characterization is the way authors tell readers about a character's traits through their thoughts and actions. Ask:
  • *         "What do Lyddie's actions when the stagecoach is stuck tell us about her personality or character traits?"
  • Listen for students to identify Lyddie's problem-solving skills, determination, and courage. Point out that in several recent lessons, they have talked about what Lyddie is like.
  • Briefly praise students for their character analysis skills. Point to the learning targets and tell them that they will focus on analyzing Lyddie's character today and that you are confident they are prepared to do so.
  • Post definitions for the Reader's Dictionary and prompt students to revise their Reader's Dictionaries as necessary.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reading Aloud Chapter 6 of Lyddie (10 minutes)

  • Tell students that they will synthesize their understanding of Lyddie by writing an acrostic poem about her. The poem will answer the question: "Who is Lyddie?" Explain that "getting to know a character" is one of the ways we explore the themes and central questions of a book. The deeper you think about a book, the more you enjoy reading it.
  • Display the Model Acrostic Poem about Charlie on a document camera and ask:

*     "What do you notice?"

  • Expect many students to be familiar with this poetic form. Listen for them to notice that there is a word or phrase that describes the character for each letter of his name, along with a specific text reference.
  • Tell students that they will think together about possible ideas to include in their poems about Lyddie. Distribute and display the Planning Your Poem worksheet. Tell students that this worksheet will help them gather ideas for their poems. The worksheet has four quadrants: strengths, weaknesses, hardships, and hopes. Briefly review the definitions of these words, pointing out that hardships are trials or problems that Lyddie has encountered, and hopes are the goals or wishes she has. These can be both short term (e.g., she doesn't want anyone to think she's lazy or helpless) or long term (she wants to return to her farm).
  • Quickly model the types of ideas they can enter on their chart. For example, under strengths you might write: "hard worker--she works hard on the farm and in the tavern" and "independent--she doesn't want to take help from the neighbors." Under hopes, you might write: "wants to earn enough money to pay off the loan on the farm." Tell students that at this point, you are not limiting yourself to words or phrases that begin with the letters in her name, and you are adding notes about textual evidence where appropriate.
  • Give students a few minutes to add ideas to their charts, encouraging them to refer to their Reader's Notes for inspiration.
  • Then explain that they will use the Go Go Mo protocol to add ideas:
  1. Walk around the room and find a partner.
  2. Give an idea to your partner and get an idea from your partner.
  3. Then move on to another partner. 
  • Remind students of your expectations for movement and give them five minutes to circulate and gather ideas.
  • Direct students to return to their seats and craft their own poems. Remind them to refer to the model acrostic poem as they work. Point out the use of textual evidence and encourage students to use the Planning Your Poem worksheets as a resource. Depending on what will work for your class, consider having students work in pairs.
  • When students are done, collect their poems. If possible, display strong poems on a bulletin board.
  • Providing models of expected work supports all learners, especially those who are challenged.
  • Graphic organizers and recording forms engage students more actively and provide scaffolding that is especially critical for learners with lower levels of language proficiency and/or learning.
  • Many students will benefit from having the time available for this activity displayed via a timer or stopwatch.
  • This exercise is designed to help students synthesize their understanding of Lyddie and increase their engagement in the novel. It is not intended to be a formal assessment of their understanding of either characterization or Lyddie.

B. Building Background Knowledge: Watching a Clip from the Mill Times Video (10 minutes)

  • Remind students that Lyddie has decided to go work in the Lowell mills. Now students will watch a short video that illustrates the working conditions Lyddie will encounter there. As they watch, they should look for details that could go on the Working Conditions anchor chart. Briefly refamiliarize the students with the anchor chart, from Lesson 1. They should write at least one detail about working conditions in the mills on a sticky note.
  • Start the 5-minute video clip from Mill Times video clip (from 28:45-33:50) and distribute sticky notes as the class watches.

Closing & Assessments


A. Reading Aloud Chapter 8 (5 minutes)

  • Ask students to read silently in their heads as you read aloud from Chapter 8. The first two pages can be difficult to understand because they are a flashback. (Point out the subtle shift in verb tense that marks the start of the flashback--"Filthy as she had been, Mrs. Bedlow had taken her in"--and that marks its end: "And now, on this first morning of her new life ...")
  • As they leave, direct students to place their sticky notes from the video on the anchor chart. If they have the Reader's Notes in packets, they should also turn in the packet that includes notes for Chapters 1-7.


HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs
  • Read Chapter 8 of Lyddie and complete the Lyddie Reader's Notes, Chapter 8.

Note: Before Lesson 6, review the sticky notes on the Working Conditions anchor chart and write down the most commonly listed ideas in a more permanent way on the chart.

Time is provided in Lesson 6 to hand back the Reader's Notes for Chapters 1-7 and give students feedback. As you review their notes, provide brief feedback. Also notice what supports the class as a whole and individual students in particular might need as they continue to read Lyddie. Consider identifying one strong student entry for Chapter 7 to use in Lesson 6 as a model.

  • Providing specific and focused feedback helps students set concrete goals for reaching learning targets.

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