3rd Grade Character Development Unit


The classroom teacher and teacher librarian will collaborate to identify skills, activities, and resources of the character traits in the Head, Heart, and Hands Character Education Program. The librarian will assemble resources for the unit consisting of fiction books for read-alouds,  and materials for research including nonfiction books, 6th grade experts to interview, and biographical videos to analyze. The classroom focus will be on using the materials for writers workshop and for creating a class book of the 8 great traits. The library focus will be on generating motivating questions for young students to research, and formulating their results first in a page for their classroom book, then in a presentation slide show. 

Unit Rationale:

Ruus School is an underperforming school that is under considerable pressure to raise test scores. Improving student focus on achievement is the goal of the character education program. However, since so much of the day is devoted at this time to mandated programs, the content must be incorporated into the existing structure. Third grade students have a rudimentary understanding at best of the character education vocabulary and concepts. Before the unit lesson begins, students have had a period of immersion in read-alouds, analysis of character in class discussion, brainstorming for writing prompts, and written responses to the stories. The written work begun in the library has been refined in the classroom in the newly adopted Writers' Workshop program.


  1. California Department of Education Language Arts Standards
  2. American Association of School Librarians Standards
  3. California School Library Association Standards





Process Model: Super 3

Step 1: Plan

Goals:Activate prior student knowledge about character traits, and generate student questions for investigation, give students an overview of the project with a rubric and discussion.

Objectives: Students and teacher will brainstorm what we know of the 8 great traits. Students will generate a list of questions about the traits. (To keep student involvement high, we will probably do 2 to 4 traits per class.)

Materials: character education books, chart paper and markers, worksheets with a list of the 8 great traits, pencils, video(s) on character, slides with images to analyze about the traits.

Procedures: The teacher will provide information from a different type of source each week for 5-10 minutes: fiction and nonfiction books, video, website, magazine, and interview. Students and teacher will summarize what we learned on the whiteboard.

Direct instruction: Students will be divided into table groups. During the first two classes, students will read chorally the H3 descriptions of the traits. Each table will get a chance to read one of the traits aloud to the class. The whole class will discuss the traits to establish a basic understanding of the ideas involved. Students can give personal examples and ask questions.

Guided practice:The teacher will model generating questions about the traits on an overhead of a worksheet. The teacher will introduce a rubric generated with the classroom teacher.

Independent practice: Students will generate their own questions on a worksheet/journal. There will be space for students to write and illustrate their own experiences each week during checkout time.

Self-assessment: allow 5 minutes at the end of class to assess their work using the rubric.

Step 2: Do

Over the course of the next few lessons, students will have the opportunity to gather information and answer their questions through a variety of formats. Books will be available each week The library has a few books on character, which they can locate on the shelves. The Hayward Public Library is preparing a box of books as well, which will be available on a trolley. They will see one or more short videos on character. They will interview an "expert" 6th grader one week.

At the end of each class, they will have the opportunity to review what they have learned and see if they have the answers to their questions. They will have packets of worksheets for making a page for the class book on each trait. They will have time to work on their pages each week as they get their answers. pages

Step 3: Review

The teacher will model a think-aloud of going through the rubric and self-assessment. Since students will be making 8 pages for the class book, they will be encouraged to self-assess each week.

Unit Outline

  Library Learning Outcome  Classroom
Lesson 1 Read chorally the H3 definition of 4 traits. Go over chart of feeling words. Review several read-alouds and score them for the presence/absence of traits and feelings. Whole group discussion of different opinions. Students will work in small groups during the scoring activity. Write questions. (Plan) Students will connect the traits to their own experience, and will experience differences of opinion as potentially positive. Transition from teacher- to student-directed inquiry.  The classroom teacher conducts lessons in H3 such as Active Listening.
Lesson 2 Introduce Super 3 Model and rubric. Review and refine questions on KWL chart. Pick a trait to become an expert on. View short biography video and score for traits. Check questions and see if they have been answered. Determine which questions have been answered, and what we need to learn. (Plan, Do, Review) Students will become familiar with unit process and begin their planning process. The classroom teacher continues with H3 read-alouds selected in conjunction with the librarian that support the 4 traits being investigated. Differences of opinion and experience are supported.
Lesson 3 Use books to answer questions. Use toc and index. Determine which questions have not been answered. Compare experience with video to use of books. (Do, Review) Learn about parts of a book, implement research method, self-evaluate, learn about different information sources.

Time allowing, CT will show and help students score another biographical video.


Lesson 4 Review questions, and prepare questions for character experts. Interview 6th grade panel, write notes. Determine if questions are answered. (Plan, Do, Review) Recursion and self-evaluation. Conduct research with an expert.  CT and TL prepare template for class book.
Lesson 5

Create pages for class book. Students will include an explanation of their trait, give an example from their personal experience, connect the trait to feeling words, and illustrate their ideas. Review rubric. (Do, Review)

Students will create product to convey what they have learned.   CT guides students to refining and finishing their class pages.
Lesson 6 Create slide show. Students will create recordings of the text of their page. Review rubric. (Do, Review) Students will learn about different presentation options for learning.  CT and TL explore a suitable setting and audience for presentation.
Lesson 7 Present slide show. Review rubric. (Do, Review) Self-evaluation  Self-evaluation