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Character in Short Stories

Year 7 English

Learning Module


Year 7 students develop an understanding of the concept of character. By analysing characters in an animation and in short stories, they learn that characterisation combines with events and settings to create narrative, use resources such as description and dialogue, and that characters may be complex, having a range of characteristics or be simple with one salient feature. They apply their understanding of characters through writing short pieces as well as an extended narrative.


character, setting, events, description, dialogue, narrative, analysis.

Australian Curriculum

Australian Curriculum: English Year 7


Understand how ideas can be expanded and sharpened through careful choice of verbs, elaborated tenses and a range of adverb groups/ phrases (ACELA1523)

Understand how authors often innovate on text structures and play with language features to achieve particular aesthetic, humorous and persuasive purposes and effects (ACELA1518)


Literature and context

Identify and explore ideas and viewpoints about events, issues and characters represented in texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1619)

Responding to literature

Reflect on ideas and opinions about characters, settings and events in literary texts, identifying areas of agreement and difference with others and justifying a point of view (ACELT1620)

Compare the ways that language and images are used to create character, and to influence emotions and opinions in different types of texts (ACELT1621)

Examining literature

Recognise and analyse the ways that characterisation, events and settings are combined in narratives, and discuss the purposes and appeal of different approaches (ACELT1622)


Interpreting, analysing, evaluating

Use prior knowledge and text processing strategies to interpret a range of types of texts (ACELY1722)

Creating texts

Plan, draft and publish imaginative texts, selecting aspects of subject matter and particular language, visual, and audio features to convey information and ideas (ACELY1725)

Edit for meaning by removing repetition, refining ideas, reordering sentences and adding or substituting words for impact (ACELY1726)

Use a range of software, including word processing programs, to confidently create, edit and publish written and multimodal texts (ACELY1728)

Year 7 Achievement Standards

Receptive modes (listening, reading and viewing)

By the end of Year 7, students understand how text structures can influence the complexity of a text and are dependent on audience, purpose and context. They demonstrate understanding of how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary affects meaning.

Students explain issues and ideas from a variety of sources, analysing supporting evidence and implied meaning. They select specific details from texts to develop their own response, recognising that texts reflect different viewpoints. They listen for and explain different perspectives in texts.

Productive modes (speaking, writing and creating)

Students understand how the selection of a variety of language features can influence an audience. They understand how to draw on personal knowledge, textual analysis and other sources to express or challenge a point of view. They create texts showing how language features and images from other texts can be combined for effect.

Students create structured and coherent texts for a range of purposes and audiences. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using language features to engage the audience. When creating and editing texts they demonstrate understanding of grammar, use a variety of more specialised vocabulary and accurate spelling and punctuation.

1. Viewing and Responding

For the Student

Learning Intention: To find out about characters in books and films.

Success Criteria:

  • Watch videoclip.
  • Brainstorm ideas.
  • Work in a group to come up with your group's favourite.
  • Write a short paragraph about your favourite character.
  • Add your ideas to the comment box and comment on 1-2 other students' comments.
Media embedded August 23, 2017

Have you read any of these books or seen the film versions?  What are your favourite characters in books and films. Add ideas in a "Noisy Round Robin". As you work in your group to record them, look up more ideas on your phone.

Comment: Choose one character from your group's list. Write a short paragraph describing your favourite character from a book or film. What are the character traits that make him/her your favourite. Read other students' updates and comment on 1-2, explaining why you agree or disagree with them and/or adding other character traits that you know about that character. 

Fig. 1: Character Traits


For the Teacher

Purpose: This update engages students by valuing their prior knowledge about their favourite and other famous characters in literature and film. 

Teaching Tips

Use the videoclip of famous novels to stimulate students' thinking about characters. Then generate a class list of favourite and famous characters. This will value students' reading and viewing experiences. The class list can be generated as a Noisy Round Robin activity using paper and pen.

Noisy Round Robin and Tournament Prioritiser (See MyRead)

Students form groups of four. Ask students to brainstorm characters in literature and film. Allow three minutes to do this. Once the time is up, students should hand their sheet on to the next group.

When students receive the next sheet of paper they continue adding to the list. Allow 2 minutes for this. Determine the number of rotations based on student engagement and the flow of ideas. Three or four rotations might be enough in a class.

When the students receive their original sheet give them a few minutes to look over what has been recorded on the sheet.

Students then select 16 characters to add to a Tournament Prioritiser. They then come up with their group's favourite. 

Tournament Prioritising Template

Paragraph writing

Students can write their paragraphs in the comment box. If they would like to add an image of videoclip, they can include a link. Alternatively, they can create their own update in Scholar or discussion thread in Google Classroom where they can add an image or videoclip to make their posts more interesting. They become active knowledge makers adding information to their learning community. They then read and select 1-2 to comment on. Clarify what a character trait is and suggest extra character traits for students who require help.

Character traits are all the aspects of a person's behavior and attitudes that make up that person's personality. Everyone has character traits, both good and bad. Even characters in books have character traits. Character traits are often shown with descriptive adjectives, like patient, unfaithful, or jealous.

From Your Dictionary. See Types of Character Traits.

Comments in Discussion Forum

As students interact through their comments in the discussion forum, the focus is on active knowledge making, metacognition and contributing to the collaborative intelligence of the group.

2. The Structure of Narratives

For the Student

Learning Intention: To understand and revise how narratives are structured.

Success Criteria

  • Watch an animation of a short story.
  • Discuss it with a partner.
  • Complete the retrieval chart about the story structure.
  • Add your ideas to the comment box and comment on 1-2 other students' comments.
Media embedded August 30, 2017

 After watching Presto, discuss it with a partner. Consider:

  • Did you like it? Why/why not?
  • What was your favourite part?
  • What made you laugh?
  • What age group do you think this animation is for?
  • Who would you recommend it to?
  • Did you know it was nominated for an Academy Award? What makes Presto so successful?

Now look at the structure of narratives. Presto is a narrative and follows narrative structure.

Fig. 1: Structure of a Narrative

Complete the table by referring to Presto.

Narrative Structure Example from Presto
Rising Action/Complication 1  
Sequence of Events  
Complication 2  
Sequence of Events  
Complication 3  
Sequence of Events  

Not all narratives follow chronological order in their structure. Other structures include flashback, flash forward, circular story (starts and ends at the same point) or parallel structure (more than one character telling the story in different chapters).

Comment: Characters are important in how they affect the rising action, complication, sequence of events and the climax. Imagine how different "Presto" would be if the magician was kind and thoughtful and the rabbit was aggressive and selfish. What are some changes that could happen? Add your ideas in the comment box. Read other students' comments and comment on 1-2, extending or going further with their ideas.

For the Teacher

Purpose: Students revise their understandings of narrative structure by responding and identifying the structure of an animated film.

Teaching Tips: As extension, encourage students to think of titles of stories, novels and films that follow different narrative structures.

The metacognitive comment is important as it enables students to connect plot and character.

Narrative Structure of Presto Template


3. The Concept of Character

For the Student

Learning Intention: To understand the concept of character.

Success Criteria:

  • Brainstorm the character traits of the main characters, Presto Di Giotagione, the magician and Alec Azam, the rabbit in Presto.
  • Complete the STEAL Character Analysis Chart about Presto and Alec.
  • Write a PEC paragraph, analysing the characters.Add your ideas to the comment box and comment on 1-2 other students' comments.

Characters are important in narratives. Characters:

  • combine with the sequence of events and the setting/s to create the story.
  • can be complex or complicated with different character traits, or be simple with just one important character trait.
  • can change as a result of events or remain unchanging.

We can learn about characters from:

  • Speech - what they say, usually in dialogue
  • Thoughts
  • Effect on other characters
  • Actions - how they react to events in the story
  • Looks - description (adjectives and verbs in written texts/gestures, facial expressions, clothing in videos).

After the brainstorm in the Noisy Round Robin, complete a STEAL Character Analysis chart about the two main characters in Presto. Work with a partner and use the brainstorm and evidence from the video to complete the handout. 

  Presto Di Giotagione Alec Azam
Effect on others    

Comment: Write a PEC paragraph about the characterisation of either Alec or Presto. Are they simple or complicated characters? Do they change or remain unchanged? Give evidence for your opinion. Read other students' comments and comment on 1-2 that you found interesting, agreed with or disagreed with, explaining why.

Extension Option: Write a paragraph where you give an example using a character from another short story, novel or videoclip that you know of. Provide the title, the name of the character, and whether you think the character is simple or complex and whether the character changes or remains unchanged. Read other students' comments and comment on one that you found interesting, explaining why.

Fig. 3: Movie poster of Presto.

For the Teacher

Purpose: This update focuses on developing a deeper understanding of characterisation and how character is revealed in a text, moving beyond physical descriptions to inferring character traits based on what the characters say and think,  and how they act, interact with other characters, and react to events in the narrative.

Direct characterisation tells the audience what the character is like. As a video depends on the viewer, inferring the character traits, it uses indirect characterisation. While this is important, do not introduce it here. This will be defined in later updates where students analyse written texts. 

Teaching Tips

1. Repeat the Noisy Round Robin strategy but this time to come up with adjectives to describe the character traits of the two main characters in Presto. They can use dictionaries, a thesaurus and their phones to come up with as many words as possible. This is an important scaffold to the next activity. As it is a brainstorm, students may refine the character traits when they start to complete the table in 2.

2. Students then complete the STEAL Character Analysis chart.  As there is not really any dialogue (except for some aaahs etc), tell students to focus more on characters' thoughts than speech. 

3. Optional Extension: Students find another character in a short story, novel or animation and write a comment to demonstrate what they have learnt about character.

STEAL Analysis Chart Template

Background Information on Character

English Textual Concepts


Character is traditionally viewed as a description of a fictional person. As a construct, it is made up of verbal or visual statements about what that fictional person does, says and thinks and what other fictional characters and the author of the text say about him or her. The reader, listener or viewer fleshes out these statements to imagine a person-like character, sufficiently individualised and coherent to establish the sense of an identity. In this way, representation of a ‘real’ person invites personal identification and judgements about the character’s morality and value to their society. This kind of analysis can contribute to shaping one’s own sense of a moral and ethical self and so becoming a way of enculturation.

Characters may also be created and/ or read as representations of ideas, of groups of people or of types that serve a function in a narrative genre. Questions of characterisation then focus on the ways a character is constructed both by the responder and the composer and its function in the text.


Character is an important concept in narrative as a driver of the action, a function in the plot, a way of engaging or positioning a reader or as a way of representing its thematic concerns. The way character is read is an indication of particular approaches to texts, be it through personal engagement or critical response.

STAGE 4 (years 7-8)

Students understand that characters are constructs that function differently in different types of texts and media.

They learn that these character constructs

  • combine with constructs of events and settings to create narrative
  • use resources such as description, dialogue, monologue
  • may draw on such devices as stereotype and generic convention to reflect values.

STAGE 3 (years 5-6)

Students understand that characters trigger an imaginative response through identification.

They learn that characters may

  • be complex having a range of characteristics or simple with one salient feature
  • change as a result of events or remain unchanging
  • have individual characteristics or be based on a stereotype

While this learning module is for year 7, students may not have focused on character before and so the Stage 3 (years 5-6) outcomes are included too.

4. A Short Story

For the Student

Learning Intention: To analyse a short story for how an author builds a rich character through "showing" not "telling".

Success Criteria

  • Explain how Jeff Kinney showed us a smart kid and a funny kid without directly telling us.
  • Build four characters using "showing" (not "telling") characterisation techniques.
  • Highlight the character traits of Luke from the short story Luke.
  • Complete a STEAL analysis of Luke.
  • Add your ideas to the comment box and comment on 1-2 other students' comments.
Media embedded October 19, 2017
Media embedded October 30, 2017
Media embedded October 22, 2017

Comment: What have you learnt about characterisation? Share at least one thing you have learnt. Read other students' and comments and elaborate on 1-2, adding more information. Or you could explain why you agree or disagree with them.

For the Teacher

Activity: Watch the video clips of Jeff Kinney and Rachael Kann on showing not telling. The teacher should emphasise how Kinney showed us through actions a smart (the girl who always raises her hand to answer questions in class) and funny kid (the boy who constantly tells jokes), rather than telling us straight up (boring). The teacher then gives students various character scenarios and the students must come up with an example of how they could show and not tell the character trait involved in the scenario using the techniques outlined in the STEAL analysis (ie speech, thoughts, effects, actions and looks).

Character Scenarios (can be done in books with teacher giving selected feedback to a few or through Pear Deck, which would have the advantage of giving all students feedback on real student work):

  1. she is a hardworking, prize-winning martial arts warrior
  2. he is a shy and quiet student
  3. she is a wily, cunning and sly member of a criminal group
  4. he has a tough exterior but is really a nice guy underneath

Activity: Teacher then moves to read a short story, Luke, aloud to class.

Response: Students respond through a Think-Pair-Share:

What happened to Luke?
What is most likely to happen to him in the future?

Have you ever tried to reach someone about something really important but not been able to? Share the experience with your partner.


Highlighting Key Words about Character in Luke

Students are given their own copies of Luke and highlight words and phrases that demonstrate as many of Luke's character traits as they can think of. In the margins students write the corresponding character trait.
We use this activity to highlight how the author shows the reader what kind of a person Luke is, rather than telling us directly (indirect characterisation).

Activity: STEAL Analysis

Students now complete a STEAL character analysis chart on indirect characterisation in Luke

STEAL Analysis Chart -- Luke

Activity: Reflection

Students write a reflection/metacognitive comment about what they have learned or they could write creatively, e.g. a paragraph about someone who is lost or stranded or in a situation where he or she needed technology and it wouldn't work.

5. Analysing the Short Story: Language Features

For the Student

Learning Intention: To analyse how the author has used "showing" (not "telling") around the five senses to create a realistic character

Success Criteria

  • Use the 5 senses to build a rich character and setting.
  • Use strong, active verbs to add vitality to plots and evoke rich images for the reader.
  • Write with verbs in the present or past tense.
  • Follow the main punctuation rules to writing direct speech in narratives.Add your ideas to the comment box and comment on 1-2 other students' comments.

Short Story Activity: The Accident

Write your own 3 paragraph story about an accident. Use the 5 senses to build a realistic character. Include dialogue.

Comment: Add your three paragraph story to the comment box. Then read other students' paragraphs and comment on at least 2. You could comment on how the author has included the 5 senses and their choice of interesting verbs to create the main character.

Fig. 5: It was an accident!


For the Teacher

Purpose: This update focuses on analysing how the author appeals to our senses to create the setting and the character of Luke.

Teaching Tips:

Completing the Senses Table on Luke Activity:

  • Students choose three of Luke's character traits and use them to complete a table (see below).
  • Through completing the table, we want to emphasise how the author focuses on Luke's senses -- what Luke sees, hears, feels, smells, tastes -- in order to create a realistic character. Finally, we want to underscore the importance of using well-chosen verbs to building a strong character.

Building Characters through the Senses

Character Trait Words/Phrases from Luke Sense Verbs/Participles
1. brave pain shuddering through his body feeling shuddering

Activity: Writing your own short story

Short Story Activity: The Accident

  • Students write their own 3 paragraph story.
  • The story should revolve around an accident of the student's choice.
  • The student should use their protagonist's 5 senses in order to build a realistic character.
  • This activity aims to give students a chance to apply what they have learned about showing rather than telling when creating a character, and how they can mobilise their character's senses to create an authentic depiction.

Grammar Focus

Narratives are gererally written in the past tense or the present tense. Students rewrite at least one paragraph of their story (they can do all three) in another tense - change past to present or present to past. What about future tense?

Discussion focus: How does it change the story? Present tense makes the reader feel like it is happening now. Past tense makes the reader feel more separated from the events.

Teaching Tip: Model some examples of tense using regular and irregular verbs.

Present Tense Past Tense Future Tense
walk walked will walk
see have seen will see

Direct and Indirect Speech

Students could rewrite their narratives and include direct speech. 


1. As students enter the room, record what they say in direct speech, punctuating it correctly and varying sentences to include all of the rules. Tell students to copy the conversation from the board and to be vary careful to include the correct punctuation (this could even be a sentence in what you write on the board). 

An example: 

"What are we doing today?" asked David as he entered the room.

"Come in, David," said the teacher. "You will be working hard on becoming better writers today."

Chrissy called out loudly as she entered, "Why are you writing on the board, Miss?"

"Just sit down, Chrissy," replied the teacher, "and everyone, start copying this into your book."

"How boring!" retorted Chrissy. "We all hate copying from the board."

2. After students have copied the text, they work in pairs to list all of the rules of punctuation, they can see.

3. Find another pair and compare and contrast the rules they discovered. Add any others they learnt to their lists.

4. Students have a conversation with a partner and record it, punctuating it as direct speech. They should have a least 8 exchanges (4 each) and they should vary the structure of the sentences.

5. Students type up the conversation (or a different one), to reinforce rules further.

6. More Inferring about Characters

For the Student

Learning Intention: To understand how readers/viewers infer character traits.

Success Criteria:

  • View a short film.
  • Discuss it with a partner and make inferences about the character traits of Chloe and Jason.
  • Complete a STEAL analysis.
  • Comment about what you have learnt.
  • Comment on 1-2 comments of other students.
Media embedded October 19, 2017


  • Did you like "Marry Me"? Why/why not?
  • What was the best/most interesting part? Give reasons.
  • What is Chloe like?
  • What is Jason like?
  • How did the director "show" rather than "tell" you the character traits of the main characters in Marry Me?

When you described what Chloe and Jason were like, you were inferring their character traits. Inferring is a reading strategy where the meaning is not directly stated by the author and the reader has to work it out.

  • Why is it important to use the inferring reading strategy when you view visual texts?

When you complete a STEAL analysis, you are inferring about the characters. You have to work out what the character traits are based on their Speech, Thoughts, Effect on other characters, Actions, and Looks (gestures, facial expressions, clothing in visual texts).

Work with a partner to complete a STEAL analysis of both Chloe and Jason.

Comment: What have you learned about how writers and directors create interesting characters? Share some of your ideas from your discussion too. Read through other students' comments and comment on 1-2 that you found interesting or agree/disagree with.


For the Teacher

Purpose: The purpose here is to further engage students through an interesting videoclip and provide opportunities for inferring character traits. Using a STEAL analysis again will build on the skill of inferring that students have already completed for Presto and Luke.

Teaching Tips

First encourage students to respond personally to the videoclip. This values their prior knowledge (and hence diversity) and sets the expectation that they have to do their own thinking about the visual text.

Students can work in pairs to complete the STEAL analysis. The discussion will scaffold thinking and lead to deeper understanding.

The comment is important to emphasise the learning focus through a metacognitive reflection.

STEAL Analysis: Marry Me


7. Direct and Indirect Characterisation

For the Student

Learning Intention: To understand direct (telling) and indirect (showing) characterisation.

Success Criteria:

  • Identify direct and indirect characterisation in an excerpt from a short story.
  • Rewrite paragraphs using direct (telling) and indirect (showing)characterisation.Add your ideas to the comment box and comment on 1-2 other students' comments.

Direct Characterisation

This is "telling" rather than "showing". An author can tell you "directly" what the character traits of a character in a narrative are. This is direct characterisation. In the following passage the author "tells" us directly that the main character is nervous, not feeling confident, a hard worker, determined, ambitious, hopeful, shocked and hesitant.

Against All Odds

I felt nervous as we moved into the auditorium and took our seats. I was not feeling confident. I had got to this position against all odds, because I was a hard worker, determined and ambitious.

I was still hopeful as the judge stepped up to the dais. He adjusted the microphone and cleared his throat before detailing each entry and its merits. 

Finally, he took a deep breath, and said, "And the winner is..........." I was shocked that I had won and I was hesitant as I moved towards the stage to accept my award.

Indirect Characterisation

The writer can also "show" rather than "tell" the reader about the character traits. The reader then has to infer the character's personality. This is indirect characterisation.

Read another version of "Against All Odds" where the emphasis is on "showing" rather than "telling" you about the character.

Against All Odds

We moved hesitantly into the auditorium and took our seats. I scanned the faces of the other competitors, sensing their self-assurance and confidence. I didn't belong here. I had got to this position against all odds, driven to work hard by the need to make a future for myself.

I had got his far.......maybe, just maybe. Any hope evaporated as the judge stepped up to the dais. He adjusted the microphone and cleared his throat before detailing each entry and its merits. My mother pressed my hand but I could not make eye contact with her, keeping my anxious gaze fixed on the judge.

Finally, he took a deep breath, and said, "And the winner is..........." The realisation that I had won was not immediate. I did not hear my name. All I heard were shrieks and applause, accompanied by pats on the back, suffocating hugs from my mother, and then being propelled towards the stage to accept my award.

Think-Pair-Share: Authors use both direct and indirect characterisation in their narratives. Direct characterisation depends mainly on adjectives to describe a character. Indirect characterisation also uses strong verbs and adverbs so there is more variety in the language. Which version of "Against All Odds" did you like best? Why?

Comment: Find another character description in another novel or story. Add the paragraph to the comment box. Explain whether it is direct or indirect characterisation or a combination. Read other students' paragraphs and comment on 1-2 that you thought were interesting, explaining why.

Fig. 7: I won!



For the Teacher

Purpose: Building on the work with visual texts, students work with definitions of direct and indirect characterisation to understand how they are used in written texts to describe characters. They also analyse the effectiveness of their paragraphs, noting the functions of adjectives, verbs and adverbs. This update will also prepare them for the next update where they create a character.

Teaching Tips:

The comment encourages students to be active knowledge makers where they find character descriptions in short stories and novels. Bring in novels that students have already read/studied in class to support them. They can also check the internet using class computers or their phones. There are also some sample texts in the attachment below.

Sample Character Descriptions

Grammar Focus

Synonyms and Antonyms: Students  rewrite 1-2 paragraphs they found using synonyms to develop vocabulary and then with antonyms to see how their paragraphs change.

Teaching Tip: Use dictionaries (real and virtual) to develop vocabulary.

8. Creating Characters

For the Student

Learning Intention: To apply what you know about direct and indirect characterisation to create your own characters. 

Success Criteria:

  • Develop a character profile. 
  • Complete an interview sheet. 
  • Comment and comment on 1-2 other students comments.

1. Think-Pair-Listen-Ask! Think independently for a few minutes about the kind of character and narrative you would like to develop for you creative writing task. You might like to write down some ideas in your workbook during this time. Pair up with another student to share your ideas. Take it in turns to be a Sharer and a Listener. The Sharer has three minutes to share their ideas about the character and narrative they are starting to develop. During this time the Sharer must try to use the whole time to explore aspects of the character and the Listener must only listen (and look encouraging!). At the end of the three minutes, the Listener must ask the Sharer 2-3 clarifying questions about the character. These questions might include:

  • That sounds interesting, tell me more about that aspect of the character? 
  • Why is the character so <angry/happy/sad> all the time? 
  • What is something that happened in the character's past which lead them to where they are today? 

After the Sharer has answered all the questions, switch roles! 

2. Character Profile - Create a profile of a character in your story. Share your characters age, gender, occupation, family, friends, location and use a range of adjectives to describe the character's appearance and personality. Include a drawing of your character. 

You may like to use a template or another creative method to make a profile. Here are some examples of how you might like to create a 'profile' of your character: 

  • Short paragraph 
  • Comic strip 
  • Annotated image

3. Share Your Profile - As you create your profile share aspects of your character with your table group and other peers. Ask for their feedback! 

4. Take your character 'out to coffee' - To take our characterisation even further, you are going tp take your character out for a coffee and interview them! Complete the interview sheet. 



What your character is saying


What your character is doing


What your character is thinking

Do you like coming to restaurants? 


What is your happiest memory?


What kind of people do you like?


What are your top three wishes?


What are your three favourite activities?

Additional Question: Come up with your own question to ask!      

Comment: What did they order? How did they respond to your questions? What was the tone of their voice and their actions? Add your ideas to the comment box and comment on 1-2 other students' comments.

For the Teacher

Purpose: Students explore direct and indirect charaterisation further by applying their new understanding to creating their own characters. Students add depth to their character by creating a profile and imagining the character's responses to interview questions or how they might interect with other or the environment. 

Teaching Tips: These tasks can be altered to suit diverse needs. For students who require greater scaffolding, a profile template can be provided and interview questions can be simplified or modified to help students find opportunity to develop their characters. Other students might enjoy interpreting a 'profile' or the 'interview' in a number of ways. This could include video interviews, cartoon strips, collages and voice recordings. 

Grammar Focus: Students continue developing their understanding of punctuating direct speech by employing these conventions in their interviews dialogue. 

9. Short Story Jigsaw

For the Student

Learning Intention: To understand and become an expert about the concept of character in a short story.

Success Criteria:

  • Brainstorm the character traits of the main characters in a short story.
  • Complete a STEAL character analysis chart on the 2 main characters.
  • Share your expertise with your home/cooperative group and learn from them.
  • Add your ideas to the comment box and comment on 1-2 other students' comments.


After you have formed an expert group of 4 or 5 students, you will be assigned a short story to analyse.

Then return to your home/cooperative group and share what you have learnt.

Text Transformation - Your Turn

Now return to your expert group and choose a paragraph from one of the four short stories that you are an expert on. The paragraph must describe one of the characters and be at least 4 sentences long.

Then, as a group, rewrite the paragraph. You can choose to make it all direct characterisation or all indirect.

Return to your home groups and share your new paragraphs. Discuss the changes you made. Is it better than the original? Why/Why not?

Comment: What was one important thing about character that you learnt in your expert group? What was one important thing about character that you learnt in your home group? Read through the comments of other students and comment on 1-2 that you found interesting and/or can add more information.

Fig. 9: How a jigsaw works

For the Teacher

Purpose: Students go through a sequence of activities to become experts about characters in a short story and then share their expertise with peers through a jigsaw cooperative learning activity. They repeat the STEAL Character Analysis chart that they used when analysing the story "Luke".

Teaching Tips:

1. Students form home groups of 4-5 students. 

2. Use a Numbered Heads strategy to form expert groups. Number each student 1-4. Then the 1s form an expert group, the 2s another expert group etc. A student who needs extra support can be in a group of 5 and paired with another student on the same story.

3. In expert groups, students read and discuss their allocated short story and complete the STEAL character analysis chart.

4. Students return to their home/cooperative groups and share what they have learnt in their expert groups. By teaching others, they develop their understanding further.

STEAL Character Analysis Chart Template

Suggested short stories:

  • Kate Constable: The White Boat (4 pages)
  • Gina Dillon: Winston (2 pages)
  • Graham Greene:The Case for the Defence (3 1/2 pages)
  • Elli Housden: Smelly Melly (2 1/2 pages)
  • Joan Rigby: 20-20 Vision (3 pages)
  • Extension: Richard Parker: The Wheelbarrow Boy

Build on the Short Story jigsaw activity in the previous update with students working in their home groups to select a paragraph and create a text innovation. They then return to their expert groups to share their new texts. The support of more able students will scaffold the activity for all students.

If needed, suggest the following paragraphs to each group.

1. Kate Constable: The White Boat (4 pages)

2. Gina Dillon: Winston (2 pages)

3. Graham Greene:The Case for the Defence (3 1/2 pages)

4. Elli Housden: Smelly Melly (2 1/2 pages)

5. Joan Rigby: 20-20 Vision (3 pages)

6. Extension: Richard Parker: The Wheelbarrow Boy 

Smelly Melly by Elli Housden
The Case for the Defence by Graham Greene
The White Boat by Kate Constable
20-20 Vision by Joan Rigby
Winston by Gina Dillon


10. Character and Setting: Luke

For the Student

Learning Intention: To understand how character combines with setting and events in a story.

Success Criteria:

  •  Write 3-5 dot points on how Luke's story would change if he had had his accident in a bustling urban environment or some other contrasting environment.
  • Rewrite three paragraphs in the new setting.
  • Rewrite again changing tense or gender or point of view.
  • Comment and comment on 1-2 comments of other students.

Comment: How does setting affect a character? How does setting affect the events of a story. Use examples from other texts, besides"Luke". Read other students' comments and comment on 1-2. You could add more ideas or examples of other texts, or explain why you agree/disagree with them.

For the Teacher

Purpose:  This update focuses on developing students' understanding of a key outcome of the Australian Curriculum - Recognise and analyse the ways that characterisation, events and settings are combined in narratives (ACELT1622). 

Activity: Considering how character interacts with setting

Changing the Setting Activity:

  • Students write 3-5 dot points on how Luke's story would change if he had had his accident in a bustling urban environment or some other contrasting environment. They then rewrite three paragraphs in the new setting.
  • This activity is intended to get students to notice how interrelated character and setting are. Some of Luke's character traits have been produced by and sharpened as a result of his life in the rugged outback. Then, too, his predicament is wholly dependent on being in a remote setting, where it is hard to call for help.

Grammar focus

Students can "linger' on what they have written by selecting one of the following:

  • Changing the tense and how this impacts on the reader.
  • Changing the gender of characters and discuss how this impacts on meaning.
  • Changing the point of view - 1st, 2nd or 3rd person and discussing the effects of writing in 1st, 2nd or 3rd person.
  Singular Pronouns Plural Pronouns
1st Person I, me we, us
2nd Person you you
3rd Person he/she/it, him, her, it they, them

11. Setting and Character: My Brother

For the Student

Learning Intention: To understand how setting and character combine to drive the action in a narrative.

Success Criteria:

  • View and discuss "Be My Brother" in a pair and then a group of 4.
  • Complete a STEAL Analysis.
  • Plan the setting for your narrative.
  • Comment on your discussion.
  • Comment on 1-2 comments of other students.
Media embedded October 21, 2017

Think-Pair-Share: Discuss and record the main points from your discussion.

  • Did you like "Be My Brother"? Why/why not?

  • What was the best/most interesting part? Give reasons.

  • What is Richard like? Does he change? If so, how?

  • What is Amanda like? Does she change? If so, how?

  • What is Damian like? Does he change? If so, how?

  • Why is the setting of the bus stop important? Hint: Would Amanda have met and spoken to Richard in another setting like a shopping centre, beach, park?

  • How did the director "show" rather than "tell" you the character traits of the three main characters in "Be My Brother?

After discussing the points with a partner, find another pair and share the main points from your discussion. 

Complete a STEAL Analysis on Be My Brother.

Creative Writing Project

You have already created a main character for your narrative. Now plan what the setting of your narrative will be. How will it be important in the action/sequence of events? How will you describe it?

Comment: Share 1-2 ideas from the discussion with your partner or group of 4. Read other students' comments and comment on 1-2, explaining why you agree or disagree with them or extending their ideas further.

For the Teacher

Purpose: This update further develops students' understanding of how characterisation, events and settings are combined in narratives.  Specifically in this short video the characters and the setting combine to drive the action/sequence of events. Students then move to considering the setting for their narrative writing projects.

Teaching Tips

See more background information on Be My Brother.

Set time limits for the pair and group discussion.

The comment/reflection is metacognitive as well as creating accountability for their pair and group discussion.

Be My Brother STEAL Analysis


12. Creative Writing Project

For the Student

Learning Intention: To apply what you have learnt about writing a narrative, characterisation and setting to your own short story/narrative.

Success Criteria

  • Write a narrative using the rubric to guide you.
  • Give feedback to other students.
  • Use your feedback to revise your narrative.
  • Submit your narrative for publication.

For the Teacher

Purpose: This Writing Project allows students to demonstrate the skills they have developed throughout the unit. Short stories should demonstrate an understanding of how characters and setting drive action. Narrative structure, direct and indirect characterisation and correct grammar conventions (particularly tense and direct speech) should all be evident their stories. 

Teaching Tips: Read "The Promise" to inspire students. Guide students through the rubric before they begin working solidy on their writing and explain the peer-feedback activies once they submit their draft. 

Assessment Task: Creative Writing Project 

Develop a short story which utilises the narrative structure and indirect characterisation. 

200-500 words 





13. Going Further

For the Student

Learning Intention: To demonstrate your understanding of character through a creative work.

Success Criteria:

  • Write a short story or character description or creates a storyboard and video or concept map.
  • Add your ideas to the comment box and comment on 1-2 other students' comments.

Extension Task:

What have you learnt about character? Demonstrate this through one of the following:

1. Write a short story. It could be on any topic you like or you could use one of the following ideas:



The happy/sad tale of ..........


2. A character description. Include both direct and indirect characterisation.

3. A story board and YouTube videoclip of a narrative or character description. Use the template to guide you.

4. A character concept map with words and images. Look at the concept map below on the writing process. Expand on "character" in the same way as this student has mapped the writing process. Be creative! Concept map guidelines:

  • A3 size
  • Include at least 10 relevant and related terms/concepts in ovals/circles/rectangles/shapes
  • Use colour and line to show relationships/connections between concepts
  • Include graphics/images
  • Have a title.

If you like, you can use mindmapping software such as Simple Mind, Poplet or Padlet.

Comment: Reflect on what you have learnt throughout this unit on "Character in Short Stories". What was the highlight for you? What was your best work? Read other students' comments and comment on 1-2, giving them positive feedback for what they have achieved.

Fig. 13: The Writing Process

For the Teacher

Purpose: The purpose here is to extend students to take their writing further. Students also have increased agency through the range of multimodal activities.

Teaching Tips:

While the expectation is that most students will complete one of the extension tasks, it will provide time to ensure all students complete the character profiles and creative writing project.

Story Board Template


14. Acknowledgements

Title and Fig. 1: (Source); Fig. 3: Available from Wikipedia under CC. (Source); Fig. 5: The accident (Source); Fig. 7: Against All Odds (Source); Fig. 9: Jigsaw (Source); Fig.13. Writing process concept map by a grade 5 student. In Bennet, B. (2011). Graphic Intelligence: Possibilities for Assessment and Instruction.Toronto: Bookation. p. 282.