Monday, September 24, 2012
Monday's Minilesson Magic: Thinking about Theme Strategy
I have been horrible at my weekly poetry post (uh-hem, please forgive me!). I can't seem to get the writing/idea/creative teacher muse inspired on my Love of Language Post so I thought trying something more general might work better: MINILESSONS :) I teach those everyday right? So, surely I can work up some magic once a week to come up with good ideas to share with you for Monday's Minilesson Magic.
I thought for my first post, I would focus on a new strategy I used this year for thinking about theme. I am always, always, always trying to push students' thinking about reading and trying to give them ways to push themselves that are tangible. I came up with the "It's About..." strategy. When I say "It's about" now my students know what I'm talking about.
I first introduced the "It's About" strategy in our first reading unit that I call "Coaching Your Own Reading Life." For this unit, I chose Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff as our main read aloud. Before this lesson, I brainstormed my own ideas for "It's About" and chose to model for students the ideas I came up with instead of letting them share their own. I wanted to ensure that they understood what I meant by "It's About" and I explained that I wanted us to get at what the book is really about. I wouldn't say "It's about a girl named Hollis Woods who is a foster child that always runs away from the families she is assigned to." This is a summary statement, and I want to get at what the book is REALLY about. (During this discussion, I never mentioned that I was talking about THEME because I wanted our thinking to be unlimited. I introduced these students to theme last year and did not want us to only be thinking about themes the way we had before.) This strategy also gets at author's message, what the author might be noticing in the world and trying to make a statement about, and lessons we could learn. Here's what I came up with:
How did we take this brainstorm to the next level? In the next lesson, we discussed how we could use this to push our thinking and I modeled for students how I could plan for my written response by thinking about the examples and evidence from the text that make us think "It's About..." The "It's about" that stood out to me the most that I really wanted students to write and think about was "It's about Wishes and Wants." I modeled how we could list this idea at the top of our page and list the reasons/examples from the book that make us think it's about that. I also told them that my list could include some of my own thinking, like "Every child wants/needs a family." I told them this is my thought because this is what I know and think is true about the world.
Holocaust book clubs (our second reading unit was "Coaching Ourselves Through Historical Fiction.") We used the "It's About..." strategy to brainstorm ideas for what themes show up in our Holocaust books. Here's my "It's About" model for Rose Blanche (Roberto Innocenti) and Irena's Jar of Secrets (Marcia Vaughan), two picturebook read alouds I used during the Holocaust unit.
I hope you can use "It's About" in your classroom (although now that I have said "It's about" about a thousand times in this post...you can choose to call it something else :)
Oh and, second drumroll please! :) My Monday Minilesson Magic will always include a list of Common Core Connections at the end that correlates the lesson ideas with the common core standards for those of you who are teaching through the common core.
RL3.2 Determine the central message, lesson, or moral in the story and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
RL4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
RL4.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
RL5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
RL5.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text.
What minilessons topics are you currently working on? What minilesson topics would you like FRESH ideas for? Let me know in the comments :)
See you again next Monday for more Minilesson Magic!