In order to write argumentative essays about books children have read, they need to study characters in their reading first. This study of characters is not just the outward appearance of the character, but more the inner person. It is what makes up the character's personality: traits, motivations, troubles and actions.
This can be taught first in whole group through the basal story or a read aloud. Using a familiar picture book will help students really know the character. The main character should have a strong personality. This would be shown through not only the actions but also how the character does something...questions like: Why does she sit like that? Is she tired? Bored?
It is also important to pay attention to how the character talks and the words that are used. A way to know more about the character is to notice what that person is thinking.This might be how the author shows the character's motives.
As students learn new ideas about their characters, they will want to take notes. Using Post-its to collect those ideas is one way to keep them. At the end of the independent reading time, children can meet with a partner to go over their Post-its. This is a time to ask and answer questions to show an understanding of the text and to refer to the text as evidence for those answers. This work would support the Common Core State Standards.
The purpose of this work is to raise the level of their thinking!