ELA.RL.7.2

Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RL:  Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
  • 7:  7th Grade
  • 2: 
    Determine a theme or central idea of a text and
    analyze its development over the course of the
    text; provide an objective summary of the text.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

|
ELA.RL.8.2

Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RL:  Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
  • 8:  8th Grade
  • 2: 
    Determine a theme or central idea of a text and
    analyze its development over the course of the text,
    including its relationship to the characters, setting,
    and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Teaching Theme Analysis in Layers
Lesson Objective: Understand theme and how it develops throughout a text
Grades 6-8 / ELA / Theme & Plot
ELA.RL.7.2 | ELA.RL.8.2

Thought starters

  1. How does the story of the Three Little Pigs help students understand that themes can vary?
  2. See how a change to the end of a story alters the theme. How does writing their own plot based on a given theme deepen understanding?
106 Comments
This is a great lesson. The students are deeply engaged. I will be using this lesson in my classroom
Recommended (0)
I love how this illustrates a great example of co-teaching! I also appreciated how it perfectly walked the students through the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy by having them start with basic knowledge, and end with higher levels of evaluation and synthesis. I also saw this as a great example of gradual release, where students move from receiving information to using and communicating new concepts that stem from what they have learned.
Recommended (2)
Great Lesson! I will try it in my Spanish lit classes!
Recommended (0)
I LOVED this idea! My next question would be: What would be an assignment for the students based off of this lesson on theme? Perhaps a literary essay? I'm developing new units and thinking about using this lesson. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! I was also hoping to contact the teachers listed in this lesson, but I'm not sure how to do that either!
Recommended (2)
Great and fun lesson, I will definitely be using this one! Thanks.
Recommended (0)

Transcripts

  • 01:00:00 Sculptures on wall
    Sculptures in gallery
    Artwork
    Student reading on steps
    Woman standing at desk
    EXT. Wildwood School [MUSIC]
    Megan

    01:00:00 Sculptures on wall
    Sculptures in gallery
    Artwork
    Student reading on steps
    Woman standing at desk
    EXT. Wildwood School [MUSIC]
    Megan with students MEGAN O'KEEFE (VO):
    My name is Megan O'Keefe...
    Megan O'Keefe
    Humanities Teacher
    Megan (INTV) MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    ...and I teach at Wildwood School.
    Sara with students SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    Hello. My name is Sara...
    Sara Kaviar
    Humanities Teacher
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    ...Kaviar and I teach 7th and 8th grade Humanities at...
    Megan and Sara with students SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    ...Wildwood with Megan O'Keefe and the...
    lesson idea:
    Theme Analysis
    And Application
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    ...name of our lesson today was Theme Analysis and Application.
    Sara and Megan with students MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    Who can tell me what theme is? Fran [PH]?
    Fran FRAN:
    The moral of the story, basically. One part of the story summarizing the content.
    MEGAN O'KEEFE (OS):
    Very nice.
    Megan with students MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    It is the moral of the story. It is the life lesson of the story.
    MEGAN O'KEEFE (VO):
    Themes often times really...
    Megan (INTV) MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    ...subjective and it's subtle, unlike character and setting...
    Megan and Sara with students
    Students
    Megan with students
    Sara with students MEGAN O'KEEFE (VO):
    ...that are very concrete. Theme seems to be a harder message to get across. It's harder for them to find.
    SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    This age group...
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    ...is still sort of black and white thinkers...
    01:00:58 Two female students
    Male student reading worksheet
    Two male students SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    ...and that's why it's important to teach it in the layers that we teach it in, so they start by having some comfort by seeing the variation of themes and that...
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    ...all of their ideas are right.
    1. Match Themes to Quotes
    Sara and Megan with students MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    We have a sheet on each table that's called "Life Lessons"...
    Life Lessons sheet MEGAN O'KEEFE (VO):
    ...and what I'd like you to do is work with a partner and just see if you can start matching some of the excerpts from the story...
    Megan with students MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    ...with the theme.
    Male and female student MALE:
    What's, what's going on?
    Sara with students
    Students chatting STUDENTS:
    (CHATTER)
    Sara with students SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    So this is an easy worksheet for them to start with. They look at the...
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    ...the clues, they look at the...
    Worksheet
    Sara with students
    Students SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    ...excerpts, and then they match the theme to that excerpt, so it's a straight matching process.
    Megan MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    Let's just go over, then, um, could I have someone read? Um, Caleb?
    Students
    Caleb CALEB:
    We were mi-, ah, ah, mixed with E and A.
    Life Lessons sheet CALEB (VO):
    We had ah, A at four and E at one, but then after reading them both more, we decided that ah, A worked better for critical thinking and problem solving...
    MEGAN O'KEEFE (VO):
    Great.
    CALEB (VO):
    ...and necessary to survival...
    Caleb and students CALEB:
    ...'cause Hatchet's a book about survival.
    01:02:06 Megan SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    Those excerpts were carefully...
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    ...chosen to be full of clues about the theme.
    Students
    Worksheet SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    That makes them comfortable. It's easy to do and we can move on from there.
    2. Apply Themes to Stories
    Megan with students MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    We are now gonna look at the mi-, the themes in popular fairy tales.
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    Then we look at a fairy tale...
    Fairy Tale themes worksheet SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    ...from the theme sheet, so we see that, we see the characters. We see the conflict that the characters have and we see what happens in the end and why, so we...
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    ...briefly ah, remind them of the story of the Three Little Pigs.
    Megan in classroom MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    Um, but let's just quickly review this story. Can I have someone read? Nora, start us out.
    Sara with students NORA:
    Once upon a time, there were three little pigs...
    01:02:45 Students
    Worksheet as student writes
    Projector screen SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    And we give them the opportunity to work together, so they're figuring out, in a collaborative setting, what they, where they see the theme coming from and what they think the theme is.
    Megan MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    Another way... How-how else could we say that? I love the way that's phrased.
    Students STUDENTS:
    (CHATTER)
    Students SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    So then, of course, they present those themes to us, and what's really...
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    ...nice is that they have a variety of takes on the story of the Three Little Pigs, which is perfect, because we want to show them how...
    Students raising hands SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    ...themes can vary.
    Megan MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    Let's start with Niazare [PH].
    Megan and students MALE:
    Hard work pays off?
    01:03:24 Students MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    Hard work pays off. Great. And I've heard some other themes coming from the story of the Three Little Pigs. Nora.
    Nora, students and Megan NORA:
    Um, I put don’t take the easy path. I-I mean, if you don’t take the easy path, that can like help you later on because when the wolf came, it's like all the little work they did was for nothing.
    MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    That's great. So there you go. We have two themes, you know, similar, but have a little, a little bit variation on that.
    SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    Now we tell the story...
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    ...same story up to the ending, but the ending is that the wolf himself now is actually invited in, and so we have them process that story. What could be the theme now?
    Sara with students
    Students
    Sara
    MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    Same setup, the wolf has chased the pigs. They've made their way to house number three, and this time, they open the door, they say come on in. Sit down with us. Have a meal together. The wolf does. After having had this great meal with the three little pigs, he feels better, and he goes back out in the world, and is kind of a reformed wolf. Talk about, at your table, what is the theme now of the story?
    01:04:35 Students chatting STUDENTS:
    (CHATTER)
    Students MALE:
    Um, maybe they would become friends and maybe sign like a peace treaty with the wolf. If you can come hang out with us and [OVERLAP]
    Megan MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    You can see how subtle changes in the plot are really gonna change that theme. Aren't they?
    Male and female student MALE:
    Yeah, the theme's part of the story.
    Students MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    We're moving on. We're gonna be handing out a new worksheet per pair.
    MEGAN O'KEEFE (VO):
    Part of the lesson that...
    Megan (INTV) MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    ...I think is difficult is the lesson where they're given the theme and have to...
    3. Write and Dramatize Plot
    Based on Given Theme
    Students MEGAN O'KEEFE (VO):
    ...build the plot around it.
    Sara and students SARA KAVIAR:
    Would you like to work together on the theme of friendship or the theme of power? Take about 30 seconds with your partner who's sitting next to you.
    Megan and Sara with students
    General theme sheet for power SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    The themes are listed at the top of each plot. You can see theme number two, three and four. Make sure that you can show us...
    01:05:31 Megan and Sara with students
    Students papers SARA KAVIAR:
    ...how that theme is being deve-, ah, being supported through your plot.
    Students SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    As they work with a partner, they select...
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    ...friendship or power, they work with a worksheet. What they need to do is they need to develop up to three different, separate...
    Students SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    ...plots on the subject of power or friendship.
    Students chatting STUDENTS:
    (CHATTER)
    FEMALE:
    I mean, no, no actual other person.
    SARA KAVIAR:
    Okay, so but-but is he, is it his hands that are the wrong hands?
    FEMALE:
    Yeah.
    SARA KAVIAR:
    Okay.
    Male student MALE:
    So the new kid is ah, starts to bully the other students. Another solution is that the teacher stops the bully and like tells them off.
    01:06:11 Sara talking to students in small group SARA KAVIAR:
    Okay, so there's our set up. The new kid comes to school. He's starting to get bullied. But a teacher comes along...
    MALE:
    No, no, no. Like the new kid's the bully.
    SARA KAVIAR:
    Oh, the new kid is the bully...
    MALE:
    Yeah.
    SARA KAVIAR:
    And the teacher comes along and does what to the new kid?
    Sara and students
    Sara MALE:
    And um, he like stops, stops um, him from bullying.
    Megan (INTV) MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    So there's two things that we really want them to consider. We want them to consider the elements of plot...
    Students MEGAN O'KEEFE (VO):
    ...and how that plot really impacts the theme.
    01:06:42 Megan
    Students MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    Decide which one seemed to really explain theme the best. As a table group, you're gonna do an acted out for the whole class.
    Students acting out theme SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    So they're acting out a theme. We have them listed. They, they've seen them before, but they still have to guess and defend why...
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    ...doe-, do the plot choices that each group creates, why are those supportive of the theme?
    Students FEMALE:
    Once upon a time, there are three best friends.
    Three students hugging MALE 1:
    Yeah.
    MALE 2:
    We love him so much.
    FEMALE:
    But then, um, two of the girls became better friends and the third one became jealous.
    Students acting out theme NORA:
    Oh, I'm having a party this weekend at Six Flags, and I can only bring one person. I hope you can come.
    Female student laughing CLASS:
    (LAUGH)
    Students acting out theme
    Megan laughing SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    They're all little actors and actresses, which his pretty fun and fun for them...
    Sara (INTV) SARA KAVIAR:
    ...and fun for us, and fun for others, because now...
    Students acting out theme SARA KAVIAR (VO):
    ...the lesson moves into guess the theme.
    CLASS:
    (LAUGH)
    Students acting out theme MALE:
    Oh no. She's dead. Zeus, go do something.
    CLASS:
    (LAUGH)
    MALE:
    You're alive now.
    STUDENTS:
    (LAUGH)
    01:07:49 Sara SARA KAVIAR:
    Who has an idea of the theme?
    Students Guess the Theme
    Female student FEMALE:
    Power in the wrong hands can lead to disaster.
    SARA KAVIAR (OS):
    Okay. So what disaster did we see?
    Sara
    Students SARA KAVIAR:
    Oh, what did we see? Caleb?
    Sara
    CALEB (OS):
    Ah, I think it's probably ah, power can conquer the strongest enemy.
    SARA KAVIAR (OS):
    Okay.
    Caleb
    Sara CALEB:
    And the reason I think that is because Zeus is ah, the most powerful one and he conquers ah, the enemy, and then he brings ah, the person back to life.
    Megan (INTV) MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    Middle school students are very concrete thinkers, but they love the deeper meanings.
    Students acting out themes [MUSIC]
    Students, Megan and Sara MEGAN O'KEEFE (VO):
    And so in this exercise, the goal was really to have them play around with theme and create theme...
    01:08:24 Megan (INTV) MEGAN O'KEEFE:
    ...in their own stories. They really are having to prove what they know by being involved in the activity. Secondly...
    Students in classroom MEGAN O'KEEFE (VO):
    ...I really think it makes it more fun for them. Nobody wants to sit on the sidelines.
    Various shots of students participating in class activity with Megan and Sara FEMALE (VO):
    They really like kind of relate to us more than I'm ever had a teacher to before. I definitely like how they're really hands-on, like instead of us just sitting there writing our stories and talking about it, we get up and act them and it really helps when they connect to you.
    Students [MUSIC]
    01:08:59 Fade to black

School Details

Wildwood School
11811 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles CA 90064
Population: 713

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greatschools

Teachers

Sara Kaviar
Megan O'Keefe

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