Talking About Theme… A Teacher’s Post

11 May

Getting kids to understand theme can be tough.  Really tough.  It’s one of those ideas that seems to be just outside of their reach, but you can see them trying to grasp the concept.  This year, I decided to try something a little different when my freshmen class read Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

Not only am I trying to help the students grasp the idea of theme, but I’m also trying to instill in them the task of finding textual evidence that supports their ideas.  So, I decided to start with topics.  This is a great way to help kids get started on their journey towards deciphering a theme.

I picked out several topics that are prevalent in the novel, things like maturity, leadership, good vs. evil, and a couple more.  Then, I split the class up into groups, giving each group a different colored pack of Post-It notes.  Their job was to go back to the text and find as many quotations as they could that supported each topic.  It quickly turned into a race as each group tried to get as many of their colored Post-Its up on the paper as possible.

Once the groups were done (I gave them about 20-25 minutes), we began discussing the different quotations and how each related to the topic it was placed under.  The kids came up with some great thoughts, and they were able to discount some of the ideas that were present as well.

During our next class, I assigned each group one topic and asked them to come up with a thematic statement based on the topic and the textual support.  This part was harder for the kids.  They wanted to make their themes specific to the novel, but after being reminded tha themes were general statements that could apply to any work of literature or situation, they did a little better.

Some of the themes they came up with were:

  • We have to fight the beast within us all.
  • Without good leadership, no one can survive.
  • You must take responsibility for your own actions.
  • Every person plays an important role in society.

They came up with a lot of different themes, and some of them were actually quite good.  This activity really helped them look to the text for help, find support within the text, and craft thematic statements.  Give it a shot, and let me know how it goes!  Happy teaching!

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7 Responses to “Talking About Theme… A Teacher’s Post”

  1. missprofessorcasey May 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    This is a fantastic idea. I love how it gets them up and moving. I will have to try this next year. Thanks for the tip 🙂

    • stacy1220 May 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

      I love to do things with my kids that puts them in charge and gets them moving. Keep checking in; I’ve got lots of ideas like this to share! 🙂

  2. alundeberg May 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    I’m printing this out and using for my best practices! Awesome idea!

    • stacy1220 May 12, 2012 at 8:33 am #

      Wonderful! It’s a great activity to keep in your “toolbox!” (And one you can pull together rather quickly, too.) I’ll be sure to post some more activities soon, so keep checking in!

  3. The MommyWife September 29, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    This is great, and I will be adapting this for my 5th graders!

  4. Becky December 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Did this today with The Kite Runner -worked great! They eagerly ran up to the board to put their post-its on the posters -they love any kind of competition. Will definitely be doing this with other novels/classes as well. Thanks for the great idea!

  5. Mr. David M. Beyer April 16, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    Thanks for the idea — I’m going to use it!

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