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Teaching Theme

The past couple weeks we have been discussing themes of stories we’ve been reading. 
This is one of the neatest ways I’ve seen to help students remember what the theme is:
Isn’t that neat? I found it from Angela Bunyi and it really clicks with the students. 
I also found some amazing theme headings from the fabulous Beth Newingham! 
I can’t get the direct link to the posters for some reason, but if you go {here}
– Click on “Literacy Links” on the left hand side
– Then click on “Reading Workshop”
– Scroll down and click on Read Aloud/Theme Study
Then you should see (and download) the posters! 
Huge thank you to Beth!
We talk about how the theme is what you think the author’s message is — what they want you to take away from the story and apply to your life. Also, there may be several different themes in one story. I make sure that they know that a theme does not only have to be one word. When we discuss the theme of a story after a read aloud, our discussion includes a lot of dialogue about how the theme applies to our lives, and then we try to narrow it down to one of the 9 themes on our wall. 
Next we vote on which theme they think fits the story the best. Whichever theme gets the most votes is where our book picture goes up!
I store all the mini book covers in this little book cover box! It keeps them organized and makes them easy to find quickly! You can read a little more about how I made it here!
4th grade common core standards addressing theme:
RL.4.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
RL.4.9 Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.
Happy Monday!
  1. Kelly Hall says:

    I use the theme boards with my fourth graders…big focus in CCSS. I love your storage box..I want to create one for next year.

  2. Kay says:

    What a great idea! Thanks for sharing. I just downloaded the Theme Posters. :~)

  3. Kristen says:

    You always have the prettiest and smartest organization!!

    Those closets look awesome!! I wish I had storage like that! You didn't do those, did you? Your school must have, but they look so homey and nice 馃檪

  4. Erin says:

    Hey There! I was wondering if you could share with me some of the titles you recommend to read aloud to build up your posters?
    It looks so beautiful I just had to copy it in my own classroom this year!
    Short and Sassy Teacher

  5. Were you able to download the "Cooperation" or "Always Tell the Truth" theme posters from Beth's original site? I cannot connect to email her directly at her school, so I'm unsure how to access the originals. Any ideas? I only need those two to "complete my set". I'm launching an author study tomorrow, and we'll use these cards to incorporate lessons on theme as well. Thanks so much for sharing how you use these in your classroom, and your organization system!!

    • Molly says:

      Hi Barbara!

      I just tried to download them and they didn't work! I don't know why… the others did! I would say emailing her would probably be the best option! Sorry I can't be of more help! Thank you so much for your sweet comment!

  6. Shawna says:

    I googled book covers but I didn’t have any luck. Can you share a site where you were able to find some? Can you share your list of mentor texts? Thanks, Shawna.

    • Molly says:

      Hi Shawna! The reason I don’t have the file posted anywhere is because of the book cover copyrights! The way I find book covers is by doing a Google search for the title of the book, and then clicking on images. From there I drop and drag the picture of the book cover into PowerPoint, where I can adjust the covers so they are all about the same size! I don’t have a complete list of the mentor texts I use, but you can check out this blog post for some of the books that I use to teach specific character traits: https://lessonswithlaughter.com///character-traits-and-books-that-teac/
      I hope that helps!

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