EL Support Lesson

Characters and Settings

In this lesson, your students will identify adjectives in noun phrases and understand how noun phrases are used to describe characters and settings in fictional texts. Use it as a stand-alone lesson or as support to Tell Me More.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theTell Me More: Characters, Settings, and EventsLesson plan.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theTell Me More: Characters, Settings, and EventsLesson plan.

Students will be able to select and describe characters, settings, and events in detail using specific examples.


Students will be able to identify noun phrases with adjectives to determine whether they describe a character or a setting using phrase banks and strategic partnering.

(4 minutes)
Adjectives in Noun PhrasesCharacters and Settings in Noun PhrasesVocabulary Cards: Characters and SettingsGlossary: Characters and SettingsWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives ReferenceTeach Background Knowledge Template
  • Read the language objective aloud in student-friendly language (e.g., "I will identify noun phrases with adjectives to determine whether they describe a character or a setting using phrase banks and partner work.") and ask students to repeat it to a table partner. Emphasize that students will be identifying adjectives in noun phrases that describe characters and settings in fictional texts.
  • Remind students that AdjectivesAre words that describe nouns. Inform students that NounsAre people, places, or things. Provide a few simple examples and ask students to think of more (e.g., red book, six cups, nice boy). Record these on a chart paper with a T-chart titled "Adjectives" on one side and "Nouns" on the other.
(7 minutes)
  • Tell students they will first learn some key words to help them succeed in this lesson.
  • Display a copy of a blank glossary on the document camera. Model how you fill out the glossary template with one of the vocabulary words, such as Noun, providing a student-friendly definition and image to go with it. If applicable, look up the meaning in students' home language to add to the glossary.
  • Go over the meaning of the other five vocabulary words in the lesson orally.
  • Distribute blank copies of the glossary to each student. Pair up students and have them complete the glossaries for the key words. In the blank column on the right, tell students to write examples of the word.
  • Review student definitions, images, and examples as a whole class after the activity so students may confirm or modify their answers if necessary.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that today they will practise identifying adjectives in noun phrases as well as choosing adjectives to form noun phrases.
  • Hand out the Adjectives in Noun Phrases worksheet to students and display a copy on the document camera. Invite a few students to volunteer to read the teaching box and examples at the top of the worksheet.
  • Point out that the importance of noun phrases in fictional texts is to help the reader have a deeper understanding and picture in their head of the characters and settings in the story. For effect, read the example sentences with only the nouns (remove the adjectives) and ask students to consider the difference in the sentences (e.g., "The boy swam across the river," vs. "The little boy swam across the wide river."). Guide students to conclude that the sentence with adjectives is more detailed and specific.
  • Read the directions aloud and demonstrate how to identify the noun phrase(s) in the first sentence.
  • Instruct students to complete the rest of the first part independently and then check their answers in a small group.
  • Repeat this process with the second section of the worksheet (i.e., explain, model, assign, check).
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that Noun phrasesAre often used to describe the CharactersOr SettingOf a story. Have students refer to their glossary if they are unsure of the meaning of these words.
  • Inform learners that they will practise finding noun phrases in two fictional short stories and determine whether the noun phrase refers to a character or a setting.
  • Distribute a green and red colored pencil (any other colors will work too) and a copy of the Characters and Settings in Noun Phrases worksheet to each student.
  • Read aloud the information at the top of the worksheet and clarify any terms if necessary.
  • Read the sample paragraph in the teaching box and emphasize the noun phrases underlined.
  • Model your thinking aloud as you distinguish between noun phrases for describing characters vs. those used for describing settings.
  • Put students in partnerships, and assign them the task of circling the noun phrases in the two short stories together. Tell them to read the text with their partner and then by themselves for a second read. Remind them to circle the noun phrase in red if it describes a character and in green if it describes a setting.


  • Work with Beginning ELs in a small group to help them complete the assessment. Read the text aloud and provide translation into L1 if applicable.
  • Highlight a couple of the noun phrases in the first text of the discourse section to help Beginning ELs notice what to search for.
  • Allow Beginning ELs to use home language resources if they are literate in their L1.


  • Allow Advanced ELs to complete the discourse section independently (i.e., without a partner).
  • Invite Advanced ELs to rephrase the comments their classmates make when discussing vocabulary words or key concepts of the lesson.
(6 minutes)
  • Hand out an index card to each student and tell them to write their name on it.
  • Ask students to write one sentence with a noun phrase that either describes EitherA character or a setting.
  • Have students exchange their index card with a peer. Tell them to read their classmate's sentence, underline the noun phrase, and write a "C" below the sentence if it describes a character or an "S" if it describes a setting. Have students write their name on the back of the index card they read.
  • Use these cards to gauge students' understanding of the lesson's objective.
(3 minutes)
  • Ask a few students to share the character-related and setting-related noun phrases they identified in the texts using the following sentence frames:
    • "The noun phrase, ____, describes a character because ____."
    • "The noun phrase, ____, describes the setting because ____."

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