Lesson: Theme in Picture Books

Katy Byrns ERES Academy Oakland, CA
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Lesson Objective

By the end of the period, students will work in groups of 4 to identify the author’s message of at least 2 different picture books and give an example of that lesson from the book and their own lives.

Lesson Plan

5th Grade
RL 3.4 – Author’s Message in Picture Books
 
 
LESSON PLAN TEMPLATE
LESSON PLAN
Standard : RL 3.4
 
Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text: Understand that theme refers to the meaning or moral of a selection and recognize themes (whether implied or stated directly) in sample works.
I. Desired Outcome
By the end of the period, students will work in groups of 4 to identify the author’s message of at least 2 different picture books and give an example of that lesson from the book and their own lives.
II. Evidence of Learning
-author’s message grid
-share out in front of class
 
III. Opening the Lesson
A. Activity to open the lesson ideally:
 1. Motivates and engages students,
 2. Either assesses prior knowledge or explicitly builds on prior knowledge/life experiences/interests – for example, “Do Nows”
 3. States the objective of the lesson.
B. How long will the opening take?
C. Consider Blooms Taxonomy/Ask good questions (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation)
Good readers are able to think deeply about the things they read and identify the theme of the text. The theme could be “friendship,” “family,” “hard work,” “being different” or many other things. There are thousands of books that fit into each of those theme categories.
 
Many books also have a message. The message goes deeper than the theme. The message could be the moral of the story; it is what the author is trying to teach you. Authors create settings, characters and events to help share a message. If the theme is “family,” the message might be that every family is different or the message might be that you should respect your parents. Books can share the same theme but have a different message.
 
Even songs, tv shows and movies usually have their own messages. If you can understand the message an author is trying to give you in his or her writing, you will be able to better understand the things you watch and listen to as well.
 
(3-4 minutes)
 
IV. Instruction and Modeling – What is the teacher doing?
A.What are you going to teach and how? (Will you provide relevant information, model thought processes, establish guides or graphic organizers, etcetera?)
B.How will you differentiate instruction? (small groups, guided math, guided reading, guided writing, literature circles, etc)
C..How long will each activity take?
D. Consider Blooms Taxonomy/Ask good questions (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation)
E. Consider Newmann’s Rigor
Today we are going to practice finding the theme and author’s message in picture books. First, we are going to share a read aloud and work together to figure out the main theme of the book and talk about what the author is trying to teach us. After we practice together, you will work with a group to find the theme and message of your own book.
 
Read aloud: Choose any book with a clear message and theme. See separate document with list of picture books with a clear message for suggestions. If you choose to use Wolf!, then you can distribute the text I’ve attached and the students can follow along. This will also make it easier for them to find examples that prove the message in the text.
 
As you read aloud, demonstrate a think aloud as well. Try using some of the following questions while modifying them to best fit the story you chose.
 
Why do you think the author chose this title for the book?
 
Who is the main character? How does/he she change over the course of the book? What did he/she learn?
 
Are any words or phrases repeated very often?
 
What is the most important event in this story?
 
Why do you think the author wrote this book?
 
Can you connect this book to your own life?
 
Who should read this book? Who can learn from it?
 
What is the theme of this book? What is the main subject? If you were going to create a basket for books like it in our class library, what would you label that basket?
 
What is the message of this book? What is the author trying to teach you? Is there a lesson to be learned?
 
Distribute organizer and use chart or overhead to fill in the first line with the students for the book you just shared together.
 
 (25 minutes)
 
V.Guided Practice – What are the students doing?
A.What will students do to interact and practice the subject matter? 
B. How will you differentiate instruction? 
C.What sorts of groupings will you use?
D.How long will each activity take?
Break the students into groups of 3-4 (based on the number of picture books you have available.) Explain that each group will have about 10-15 minutes to read their book together and they will then have 5-10 minutes to discuss what the theme and author’s message might be. They will complete a row of their chart for their book.
 
Remind groups that the example from the text is where they find a specific event in the story that fits or proves the author’s message. If the book has page numbers, they should cite where they found each example.
 
If time allows, switch books after this first round so that groups can have a chance to find more than one theme and message.
 
(30 minutes)
VI. Independent Practice
Have students reflect on their independent reading books and answer a few questions in a journal response or by adding their book to the organizer they have been using for this lesson.
 
(10 minutes)
VIII. Closing the Lesson
 
       
Have each group present the book they read (a great opportunity for students to advertise these books to potential readers in class) and identify the theme and message they found. Add to one big class chart.
 
Discuss findings: Did any of these books share a theme? Are any of the messages similar? Did two groups find different messages after reading the same book? How could that happen? Can you think of other books we’ve read in class that have a clear message? Which of these books should you share with your kindergarten reading buddy? Why does he/she need to hear that message?
 
(5-10 minutes)
 
1. What went well?
2. What would you change?
3. What needs explanation?
The students love to read with partners. 
 
The chart helped distinguish theme from author’s message.
 
 
 
It would be nice to have even more time to do the group work. We only had time for each group to do one book, but it would be great had they been able to complete 2.
 
If I had even more picture books, I would have had the students work in groups of 2-3 to further raise engagement.
 
Consider using a mix of picture books and copies of short stories. This might make it easier to get your hands on more texts and have smaller groups.
Mix reading levels in your groups of 4 so that each group has a reader strong enough to help with vocabulary and reading aloud if the other members need assistance.
 
Some books are longer than others. I recommend putting two shorter books at one station in case they finish with the first before groups working with a long book. Or just have students read silently when they have finished their group book before rotating.
 

Lesson Resources

Themed book list  
11,803
author s message chart   Activity
3,722
Wolf text by Becky Bloom   Reading Passage
2,893

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