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Teaching Theme

THEME: The big idea, the message

Have never really done a good job in the past teaching or explaining theme. Changing that this year. Hopefully. šŸ™‚

We’ve been talking about theme during our daily read aloud time. They’ve been identifying in their independent reading.

Today I took it a further step by showing them how to write about it and pull evidence from the text to support it.

They helped me write this. Then I had them copy it into their reading notebook so they would have an example.


Below is revised copy. šŸ™‚


We then color coded it so they could SEE the intro, evidence, and expanding on evidence, and conclusion.

After independent reading, they had to write about a theme from their book.

Oh yeah, before all this, I explained difference between main idea and theme:


How do you teach theme?

4 thoughts on “Teaching Theme

    • Thanks! They really got into helping me write this one. Maybe because it was our previous read aloud?? Of course, the jury is still out on whether or not they can transfer it to their own writing. šŸ™‚ But I think I forget sometimes that they shouldn’t have to master it after ONE TIME. šŸ™‚

  1. First I ask my students if they know what theme is. Of course they come up with some strange responses. Then I show them this youtube video
    http://youtu.be/p4qME64SkxM and make sure they take notes. Then we discuss, discuss, discuss. I give them lots and lots of examples and then I give them scenarios and they have to decide if it is a them or note based on the criteria they gathered from the video. This has really helped my students to distinguish between a theme and just a central idea. I can’t say enough good things about this video. This gets the students away from thinking of a subject as a theme.

    • Kathy-

      I’m headed to watch the video now. Most of my 6th graders understand now what theme means, but I now want them to be able to identify them in the books they read and write about them. šŸ™‚ AND I want them to stretch their thinking and writing. Most just want to say my theme is courage and give one example from the text. Of course, that’s MORE than they used to be able to do!!

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