Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Theme = the message of a story
A common, but effective, way to remember that THEME is the MESSAGE the author is trying to convey.
We have been reviewing and working on theme this last week.
In our thoughtful logs, we added some great inserts that I TPTed (wonder when this phrase will be added to the dictionary??) from The Pinspired Teacher. They are a great reminder that theme can be either stated or implied in a story. The little books did take quite a while to put together but they turned out so cute that it was worth it!
We have been working on figuring out different themes in our read alouds, independent reading, and in the world all around us (INSERT WALT DISNEY CONNECTIONS! *squeal*)
Theme can often be a confusing and complicated concept for students so I also tried to utilize what I now call the "Tanny Effect" by taking a more abstract concept and making it clearer in a kinesthetic/real world sort of way. If you are not using Tanny McGregor's book "Comprehension Connections" you are MISSING OUT! I know I have talked about this a lot, you can actually see an entire post devoted to her style HERE, but honestly, her methods are just that good! Okay, off my soap box. .. ..
Using music is one of her ways of breaking down a more abstract concept, so I gave it a try with THEME. We listened to some common older and newer songs that had STATED (obvious - usually stated clearly in the chorus) and IMPLIED (much harder to find, clues are discovered in the verses).
  • Man in the Mirror - Michael Jackson (To make the world a better place, change your self for the better) 
  • Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye (Don't give up on love) 
  • Time of Your Life - Green Day (Hold onto the good times/memories) 
  • Stronger - Kelly Clarkson (Learn from your mistakes - I love the kiddo belows definition!) 
  • Handlebars - Flobot (note: this song has some vocabulary you will want to discuss with students before listening including missal, holocaust, vaccinations - definitely for upper el/middle school listeners) 
    • This song has a powerful message that grows alongside the music - example of author's craft in music usage
    • You have the potential to do what ever you want, GOOD... OR BAD - it is YOUR choice! Especially powerful for children since their life is still all before them (love the connection to the riding of a bike ... basically, the song starts and ends with a child) 
We also have been working on looking at narratives and how the authors give us clues, just like in the music, which are both implied and stated that point toward the overall theme. 
Finally, for a smile before you leave, here is a very impromptu video that I grabbed as the lesson was occurring. 
ATTENTION: there is a ROCK STAR in my classroom ;0) 
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