Sunday, October 27, 2013

Making our way through theme

Right now our class is right in the middle of our study of theme.  It's one of my favorite units to teach because you can do so much with it!  Because I teach 5th grade, there's not a lot of opportunity to share picture books (which I love).  BUT, with theme, I can!  This week, I shared these books, and here's some of the themes my fifth graders came up with:

Theme: It is better to give than to receive.

Theme:  Good things come to those who wait, or don't judge a book by its cover.

Theme: Dream big!

Theme: Everyone is special in their own way.

Theme: Some things aren't as good as they seem.
Let me tell you, they LOVED hearing these stories, and some brought back memories of when they were younger!  I loved reading them and it was a great start to each mini-lesson of theme.

I also used the lovely Nicole Shelby's 5th Grade Reading Interactive Notebook  to introduce the idea of theme.  I really enjoyed using the notebook template and she has some creative ideas to teach these abstract strategies. 

As we read these picture books, we would add the theme to the "Common Themes" page.  By the time we finished, we had a list of about 8 themes that show up often in children's literature.  To tie in 5.RL.2, which talks about identifying the theme in literature and writing a summary, we wrote a response together in our guided reading groups.  We talked about the proper way to do this, and we came up with these guidelines:

The theme of this story is __________.  In the beginning, (the character) (feels/acts/does) ______________.  This results in ______________.  At the end (the character) (feels/acts/does)_____________.  The author's message was _______________.

We made a fancy schmancy anchor chart with this (which I forgot to take a picture of) so the students can reference it when they write their responses independently.

Also, in our guided reading group, we are LOVING the Wall Pops for simple responses that don't really require/need paper.  This is one of the best purchases I made this summer, because it's so easy to pull a student to work on a multiplication problem or open ended response when you don't really need any written work to keep.  We are using short stories each day and talking about the theme of each.  This particular day, we read an African folk tale called Head Tree (you can find a copy here) where a man had a tree growing out of his head.  He went to a woman to have it removed, which she did in return for payment of 2 cows.  He didn't pay her, and the tree grew back.  The lesson/theme was to keep your promises.

Here's the various themes the students came up with for Head Tree.

My plan is to use Kristine Nannini's assessment this week to see how they are doing with this concept, and then I am moving on to summarizing.  I'm really pleased with how well the students seemed to understand this concept, and we will constantly be reviewing and talking about them in the following books we read.

How do you teach theme in your classroom?  Have a great week!!


1 comment:

  1. I'm loving your ideas with the Wall Pops! Thanks for sharing!!


Your comments make me happy!! Thanks for taking the time to say a few words. Be sure to leave your email if you are a no-reply blogger!