Unit on Character through Literature:

Lesson Plans for Integrating Local Resources into the Classroom

written by Alice Wasson

Lesson Plan | Assignments |Assessments | Materials | Field Trip | Objectives

Contact: John Gruber-Miller

School and Age/Grade Level: Kirkwood’s Adult /Alternative High School

Ages 15-90's

Subject Area: Literature

Lesson Plan Focus

I will teach a 2-3 week thematic unit on “character.” I will introduce the unit by presenting pictures of 4 or 5 people most students will recognize. These people illustrate either admirable character or despicable character. After a brief discussion of these people and what character means, we’ll read and discuss 2 poetry selections that also illustrate character.

Over the next 2 days I will briefly present the remaining pictures and let students select the individual they want to research. The assignment will be to write a 1 page report on how this person’s deeds and character influenced society for better or worse. The report will also be presented orally. Also, each day we’ll cover more selections from literature.

Over the next two and a half weeks we’ll cover the remaining literature selections. For each literature selection we’ll focus on how character is illustrated. We’ll also do a brief literary analysis of each selection and highlight the more influential authors and poets. During this period there will be 4 out of class journal assignments. Students will also have a choice of writing an essay or putting together a collage. As students complete their research papers they will share them orally in class. There will be 2 culminating activities. One will be a field trip to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art to view the 21 Roman portrait busts. After I’ve presented a brief generalized overview of Rome and Roman life of that time period, we’ll visit the museum and view the busts. I’ll ask students to consider the legacy the ancient Romans have left us, and to think about what these Romans might have to say to the various literary characters we’ve been studying and to us today. A final assignment will be to write a letter to one of the Roman busts. On the last day I will administer a test encompassing everything we’ve covered in the unit.

Out of Class Assignments

1. One page research paper on one of 18 people who influenced society for better or worse. It will be presented orally in class. (Some class time will be allotted for research)

2. Collage - illustrating the meaning of character


3. Essay- “A Person I Admire”

4. Journal Entries (From the following 5)




Short Stories-


Pictures of the following people (from magazines and other media):

  1. Booker T. Washington
  2. Helen Keller
  3. Albert Schweitzer
  4. Dennis Rodman
  5. Robert E. Lee
  6. Harriet Tubman
  7. Hitler
  8. Mahotma Gandhi
  9. Elizabeth Blackwell
  10. Rosa Parks
  11. Ryan White
  12. Saddam Hussein
  13. Jackie Robinson
  14. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  15. Abraham Lincoln
  16. Jane Addams
  17. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  18. Dr. Thomas Dooley

Written materials and computers from school library for research

Arrangements for Field Trip

Unit Objectives

  1. To understand that character is what makes each individual unique.
  2. To understand that an individual’s character determines how he acts, and thus, how he lives his life.
  3. To understand the relationship between values and character.
  4. To comprehend how a person’s character can influence his family, acquaintances and society.
  5. To understand that fictional literary characters as well as real people, can illustrate various character traits.
  6. To apply universal truths and ideas illustrated in literature and biographical sketches to real-life situations today.
  7. To improve writing skills.
  8. To improve public speaking skills.
  9. To practice doing simple research with computers and written reference materials
  10. To understand and be able to use literary terms useful in discussing and discussing works of literature
  11. To do a simple analysis of a piece of literature
  12. To have a basic knowledge of some influential authors
  13. To become familiar with a pre-selected group of people from recent times whose character and deeds had a tremendous impact on society either for good or bad.