Analyzing Author’s Craft: Character Development in Peter Pan | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G3:M3:U1

Analyzing Author’s Craft: Character Development in Peter Pan

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In this unit, students begin reading a retold version of the literary classic Peter Pan to build their understanding of how the historical context of a literary classic can have an impact on the content and also to analyze how writers develop characters to capture a reader's imagination. In the first half of the unit, students read an informational text to build background knowledge about the author, J.M. Barrie, and some of the relevant aspects of society in Great Britain at the time the original novel was written. Students then focus on analyzing how the events in each chapter build on what came before and consider how the illustrations in the first four chapters of Peter Pan contribute to the meaning of the text. After reading each chapter, students make connections between the historical context and the content of the chapter.

For the mid-unit assessment, students closely read a new chapter of Peter Pan and answer selected response and short-constructed response questions about the text. In the second half of the unit, through teacher-guided close reading, independent close reading, and discussion, students analyze the characters by carefully examining their traits, motivations, actions, and points of view. They also analyze figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meaning to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of the text. For the end of unit assessment, students closely read another new chapter of Peter Pan, answer selected response questions, and complete a table to analyze the character traits, motivations, actions, and points of view.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How do writers capture a reader's imagination?
  • Authors show--not tell--how a character feels through dialogue and description.
  • Authors choose words and phrases for effect to help readers imagine they are in the story.
  • What can we learn from reading literary classics?
  • Literary classics are told in different ways over time.
  • Literary classics can show how things have changed since the time they were written.

The Four Ts

  • Topic: Analyzing author's craft, specifically character development
  • Task: For the mid-unit assessment, students read a new chapter of Peter Pan and answer questions. Students analyze the traits, motivations, actions, and point of view of a character in a certain situation in Peter Pan for the end of unit assessment.
  • Targets: RL.3.1, RL.3.2, RL.3.4, RL.3.5, RL.3.6, RL.3.7, RL.3.10, L.3.4, L.3.5.
  • Texts: Peter Pan


Each unit in the 3-5 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the literacy block of the school day. However, the module intentionally incorporates social studies content that many teachers may be teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

College, Career, and Civic Life C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards:

  • D2.Civ.10.3-5
  • D2.Geo.3.3-5
  • D2.Geo.5.3-5
  • D2.His.2.3-5
  • D2.His.5.3-5
  • D2.His.6.3-5
  • D3.4.3-5
  • D4.2.3-5

Habits of Character/Social-Emotional Learning Focus

Central to EL Education's curriculum is a focus on "habits of character" and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this unit, students work to become effective learners, developing the mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration). They practice collaboration as they work in pairs and small groups to discuss questions about Peter Pan.

Students also work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion). They practice respect because of the potentially diverse views of classmates as they discuss Peter Pan.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Accountable Independent Reading

The ability to read and comprehend texts is the heart of literacy instruction. Comprehension is taught, reinforced, and assessed across both components of this curriculum: module lessons and the Additional Language and Literacy block. Refer to the 3M3 Module Overview for additional information.

In this unit, students continue to follow the independent reading routines set up in Modules 1 and 2. They select new texts based on the new topic for the module, read them independently for homework and engage in frequent research reading shares during the module lessons for accountability.

Supporting English Language Learners

The Meeting Students' Needs column in each lesson contains support for both ELLs and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and some supports can serve a wide range of student needs. However, ELLs have unique needs that cannot always be met with UDL support. According to federal guidelines, ELLs must be given access to the curriculum with appropriate supports, such as those that are specifically identified as "For ELLs" in the Meeting Students' Needs column.

  • New: ELL supports now labeled and condensed. Beginning in Module 3, ELL supports within the Meeting Students' Needs column are labeled and explained in detail the first time they are used. Supports repeated in subsequent lessons are also labeled but condensed for easier reading, and at times adjusted to provide lighter support. Attend to the detailed supports and labels early in the module to more easily apply them as the curriculum progresses. Note that a number of the supports may seem familiar, as they have been suggested repeatedly in Modules 1-2.
  • Prioritizing lessons for classrooms with many ELLs: To prepare for the Unit 1 assessments, consider prioritizing and expanding instruction in Lessons 2-4 and 6-9, which establish the reading routines, close reading, Language Dives, and analysis of character point of view. If necessary, consider placing less focus and condensing instruction in Lessons 1, 10, and 11, which provide helpful background, practice, and repetition but don't introduce as many new concepts. However, be sure to complete the Language Dive in Lesson 11.
  • Language Dives: All students participate in Language Dives in Lessons 7, 9, and 11. Many lessons also include optional Mini Language Dives for ELLs. These Language Dives support ELLs and all students in understanding and practicing the meaning and structures of sentences from Peter Pan. Be aware that in Modules 3 and 4, Language Dive goals remain the same: to empower students to analyze, understand, and use the language of academic sentences; however, beginning in this unit, and continuing throughout Modules 3 and 4, the Language Dive Guide and the Mini Language Dive formats have been modified. The modified format follows the Deconstruct-Reconstruct-Practice routine, which should seem familiar as a general process (see Language Dives on the Tools page). Additionally, beyond the teacher-led questions and answers as in Modules 1 and 2, there are suggested language goals that students should try to understand and apply for each chunk. Thus, this modified format goes beyond teacher-led questioning. It attempts to encourage students to take more of the lead in the conversation and build greater independence by taking an inquiry based approach to language in general, and the selected sentence in particular. Although students should briefly discuss all chunks in each Language Dive sentence, the new format invites them to slow down during one chunk, called the focus structure, to investigate and practice a particularly compelling language structure. For more context, consider reviewing the full Language Dive Guide in Lessons 7, 9, and 11 of this unit, as well as a range of questions students might ask one another in Questions We Can Ask During a Language Dive on the Tools page.
  • Goal 4 Conversation Cues: Encourage productive and equitable conversation with Conversation Cues, which are questions teachers can ask students to help achieve four goals: (Goal 1) Encourage all students to talk and be understood; (Goal 2) Listen carefully to one another and seek to understand; (Goal 3) Deepen thinking; and (Goal 4) Think with others to expand the conversation (adapted from Michaels, Sarah and O'Connor, Cathy. Talk Science Primer. Cambridge, MA: TERC, 2012. Based on Chapin, S., O'Connor, C., and Anderson, N. [2009]. Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Grades K-6. Second Edition. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications). See the Tools page for the complete set of cues. Goal 4 Conversation Cues are introduced in Lesson 1. Heightened language processing and development is a primary potential benefit for ELLs.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Investigate the routines, practices, rituals, beliefs, norms, and experiences that are important to ELLs and their families. Integrate this background into the classroom as students discuss literary classics and stereotypes. Because this unit addresses stereotypes found in Peter Pan, be particularly sensitive to students' experiences and perspectives. Foster inclusive action by creating space for students to express their feelings about sensitive issues, while being aware that these discussions may unearth trauma or social stigma. Consult with a guidance counselor, school social worker, or ESL teacher for further investigation of diversity and inclusion.
  • Character traits and point of view: In the second half of the unit, students analyze and discuss the character traits and points of view of the characters they meet in Peter Pan. This analysis will benefit ELLs by preparing them for the work they will do in the end of unit assessment and in later units. ELLs may find it challenging to access and produce the necessary language to describe the point of view of characters. Support students by giving them sufficient time to think about what they want to say before they are asked to share or write, referring them back to the text for examples, and providing sentence frames as needed.
  • Celebration: Celebrate the courage, enthusiasm, diversity, and bilingual assets that ELLs bring to the classroom.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
Peter Pan (Classic Starts)
by J. M. Barrie
1 per student
ISBN: 9781402754210

Preparation and Materials

  • Inform families in advance that students will be reading Peter Pan and open a dialogue of how best to support students through some of the controversial issues, such as racism and sexism, that the book presents.
  • Gather the following materials from previous modules for use in this unit:
    • Close Readers Do These Things anchor chart
    • Academic Word Wall
    • Vocabulary logs
    • Working to Become Ethical People anchor chart
    • Working to Become Effective Learners anchor chart
    • World map
    • Compass points
    • Affix lists
    • Strategies to Answer Selected Response Questions anchor chart
    • Tracking Progress folders
  • The Questions We Can Ask during a Language Dive anchor chart is introduced in this unit and referred to throughout the module and the school year.

Technology and Multimedia

  • Project Gutenberg - Additional reading and research: Students read excerpts of the original stories and view some of the images. Students read literary classics from around the world.
    • Note: Please preview before sharing with students and determine which excerpts and images are appropriate for this age.
    • Barrie, J.M. Peter and Wendy. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons. Project Gutenberg, 2008. Web. 25 Jul 2016.
    • Barrie, J.M. Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910. Project Gutenberg, 2008. Web. 25 Jul 2016.
  • J.M. BarrieAdditional reading and research: Students read more about J.M. Barrie.
    • "J.M. Barrie: Biography." Random House Kids. Web. 26 Jul 2016.
  • DOGObooksReading and analyzing book reviews and writing book reviews: Students read, analyze, and potentially write their own book reviews.

Additional Language and Literacy Block

The Additional Language and Literacy (ALL) Block is 1 hour of instruction per day. It is designed to work in concert with and in addition to the 1-hour Grades 3-5 ELA "module lessons." Taken together, these 2 hours of instruction comprehensively address all the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.

The ALL Block has five components: Additional Work with Complex Text; Reading and Speaking Fluency/GUM (Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics); Writing Practice; Word Study and Vocabulary; and Independent Reading.

The ALL Block has three 2-week units which parallel to the three units of the module.

Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions


  • If you have a number of ELLs speaking the same home language, invite family members to come into the classroom to talk with them about traditional stories in their home countries.
  • Invite family members or teachers to come into the classroom to read their favorite traditional stories to the class.


  • Invite authors of children's literature in to speak to the students about writing stories.
  • Invite a professional review writer, for example a music journalist, to come into the classroom to talk to students about the process of writing a balanced review.


  • Visit a live performance of Peter Pan or another traditional story.


  • Identify local people who may enjoy hearing traditional stories--for example, a senior citizens home--and go to read traditional stories for them or send them recordings of students reading traditional stories.

Extension opportunities for students seeking more challenge:

  • Invite students to write book reviews of other traditional stories or other independent reading books.
  • Invite students to revise scenes from other traditional stories.

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