EL Support Lesson

Identifying Character and Setting

In this support lesson, ELs will learn how to identify the characters and setting in a story while using noun phrases to support their understanding. It can be used alone or as support for the lesson Exploring the Features of a Book Series.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theExploring the Features of a Book SeriesLesson plan.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theExploring the Features of a Book SeriesLesson plan.

Students will be able to identify the features that all books in a series share.


Students will be able to identify the characters and setting of a story with noun phrases using interactive supports.

(1 minute)
Graphic Organizer Template: Frayer ModelUsing Noun Phrases for Character & SettingFind the Noun Phrases: Character & SettingElements of a Story: Sort It Out!Character and Setting Pre-WriteVocabulary Cards: Identifying Character and SettingGlossary: Identifying Character and SettingTeach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives Reference
  • Tell students that today they will be studying two elements of fiction, characters and setting.
  • Explain the language objective in student-friendly terms (i.e., "We will be looking for noun phrases to help us learn about the characters and setting in a story.")
(10 minutes)
  • Review the definition of Noun. Display the vocabulary card and read the definition aloud. Then, tell students to talk to a partner and brainstorm as many nouns as they can think of. Call on several students to share examples of nouns and record them on the board next to the displayed definition.
  • Tell students that they will be studying some other vocabulary words that will help them during the lesson.
  • Display a blank copy of the Frayer Model worksheet using a document camera. Model how to complete it with the word Noun phraseBy filling out each section. Include the definition in students' home language (L1) if applicable. Keep this example posted for student reference.
  • Hand out a blank Frayer Model to each student and divide the class in half (i.e., draw an invisible line across the classroom). Instruct one half to work with a partner and complete the model for the word CharacterWhile the other half completes the model for the word Setting. Tell students that during this time they are becoming a word expert and inform them that they will be discussing their Frayer Model with a peer.
  • When students have completed their Frayer Models, have students find a new partner with a different focus word. For example, a student with the word "character" should pair up with a peer who studied the term "setting." Instruct students to take turns sharing their focus word with their new partner.
  • Circulate and offer support as needed while students share their Frayer Models.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that they will be studying noun phrases, which will help them find information about setting and character when they read.
  • Hand out the worksheet Using Noun Phrases for Character & Setting and use a projector to display a teacher copy.
  • Review the directions and read each of the noun phrases in the phrase bank aloud. Then model the exercise for students by writing two example noun phrases in the chart.
  • Instruct students to work with a partner to sort the remaining noun phrases. Call on students to share their answers.
  • Direct students' attention to the second section of the worksheet. Read the instructions aloud, and model the exercise by completing the first sentence as an example.
  • Have students work with their partner to complete section two and call on volunteers to share their answers.
  • Ask students to share the strategies they used to determine whether a noun phrase was describing character or setting. Provide a sentence frame for students to use during the discussion (e.g., "I could tell when a noun phrase was describing ____Because____.").
(10 minutes)
  • Hand out the worksheet Find the Noun Phrases: Character & Setting. Review the directions and read the story aloud to students as they follow along.
  • Tell students to reread the first paragraph with a partner and identify noun phrases that reveal the characters and setting of the story.
  • Have students fill out the sentence frames independently. Then, allow them to discuss their answers with their partner before calling on volunteers to share their answers.


  • Pre-teach additional vocabulary terms that students will see within texts during the lesson, like "cunning," "fend off," and "cloak."
  • Allow beginning ELs to use bilingual resources to define new words throughout the lesson.
  • Strategically pair beginning ELs with more advanced ELs or students who speak the same home language.


  • During the discourse level focus, challenge advanced ELs to write sentences using word banks as supports rather than sentence frames.
  • Allow advanced ELs to utilize a glossary, thesaurus, and dictionary for help with unfamiliar words.
  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in group and class discussions. Ask advanced ELs to add on, rephrase, or clarify what their peers say in class discussion.
  • Have advanced ELs repeat instructions and key vocabulary while summarizing important information for the class.
(5 minutes)
  • Cut out the cards on the first two pages of the Elements of a Story: Sort It Out! worksheet. (Note: white out prepostitions that precede the noun phrases, or use only the cards that have noun phrases.) Make sure there are enough cards that each student will receive one. Make duplicate copies of cards if needed.
  • Hand out a half sheet of lined paper to each student. Then, pass out the cards so that each student receives one card.
  • Instruct students to copy down the noun phrase on their card and write "character" or "setting" next to it.
  • Then, tell students to pass their card to another student and repeat the exercise with the new card they receive. Repeat a few times, so that students receive at least one of each type of noun phrase.
  • Collect student responses and check for understanding.
(3 minutes)
  • Show students a picture of a character, like the one on the Character and Setting Pre-Write worksheet. Challenge them to work with a partner or small group to come up with a noun phrase that describes the character. Call on several groups to share.
  • Repeat with a picture that depicts a setting.
  • Explain to students that when they read a book series they will see recurring characters and settings.

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