I've spent a little time recently teaching my Smarties about theme using part of Erin's awesome Interactive Notebook for Literature. We completed the basic lesson from Erin, and I also did her video lesson using Christian the Lion as a formative to make sure my kiddoes knew the difference between a theme and a theme topic. Then, as any good teacher will do, we applied the concept to our literature novel: The Lightning Thief. I gave my students five basic theme topics that could be applied to our novel: Friendship, Loyalty, Greed, Perseverance, and Honesty. Then, I had them break into their triad groups and discuss each topic. They had to come up with a theme statement that would fit each of the themes.
This was actually pretty difficult for them. I gave the groups 3-4 minutes at each station to read, discuss and write. They could not write a statement that had already been given, so by the last topic, some were struggling. Many weren't making broad enough generalizations.
It was a great opportunity for me to meet with them in very small groups and differentiate. My top groups I could push for evidence and broader thinking, beyond those typical cliche theme statements. My lower groups needed to learn how to make a broad generalization. I love Erin's notebook because it was a great reminder for them about what a theme does using the tree roots, branches, and then evidence. When we had finished in groups, I sent them out individually to read the lists and write down any theme statements that really appealed to them. Lastly, as a summative I had them write a paragraph about the theme of The Lightning Thief, and they had to back it up with evidence from the novel. Erin has made teaching theme so much easier with this notebook lesson and video clip that I had to help her out with her Appreciation Giveaway. Today you can stop over to I'm Lovin Lit and enter to win my Mother or Father's Day Lapbook. It is a sweet little writing project that a parent will always cherish. It's never too early to start project planning!