Identifying How Theme Represents a View of Life in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Day 1 of 1).

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SWBAT determine a theme and analyze its development over the course of the text by providing an objective summary of how a selection represents a comment on life.

Big Idea

Students identify themes and analyze how they connect to Junior's life.


10 minutes

For this Activator, I chart themes on index cards from the chapters read so far - one per card.  I hand each student a card and ask them to explain in their own words what the themes mean to them. I explain to them that by the end of the class they will write evidence on the back of the cards to support the themes. Themes include: Family, Violence, Poverty, Identity, etc.

To determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze it in detail as common core standard RL.9-10.2 requires, my students will need to find evidence from the text to support their answers, RL.9-10.1.

During the Wrap Up activity, I will have students review the index cards with their peers to check for understanding.

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

In this lesson I am reviewing information that most students (hopefully) have learned by using the first four slides of a cool explanation of Theme that I downloaded from You Tube

I ask students to review their notes on Theme and while reviewing the slides to check to see if their notes are correct or need changes or additions.  I like changing the way students get their "teaching."  I find that this format appeals to my students for several reasons, one being that they can get a little tired of hearing my voice so why not use a video format to teach them while putting me in a coaching role?  If the video is creative and informative it works well by integrating them into some lessons.

I essentially want students to understand these basic facts:

  1. how a subject differs from a theme, 
  2. how theme is a model of the real world, 
  3. how to find a theme, and 
  4. why understanding theme can make reading The Part-time Indian much more enjoyable and meaningful.  

These may seem like easily obtainable goals but many of my students will need this reviewed several times during the semester for it to really sink in.    

Using one of the themes from the novel, I model why it's a theme and show evidence from the novel to support that theme.  I then teach the protocol for the Theme Activity, passing out the worksheet reviewing the stated themes.  These are the same themes they where given for their index card activity.  Covering the same information but in a different format is an effective way to reteach material.  As they read the novel the students will align each chapter title to a theme. Several of the chapters will fit into more than one category.

Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

Using the Theme Activity I ask students to match each chapter that they already read with a theme from the activity sheet. They must include their reason for placement by including an explanation from the novel to prove their point.  I give them the option of using a quote from the chapter or by putting it in their own words.

I circulate among the students helping them by looking at Chapter 1, The Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club, and reviewing the protagonist's words throughout the chapter asking, "What was he talking about?"  

As students give me answers I ask, "What theme or themes might this address on your Theme Activity sheet?" "Now find evidence to support your answer and write it into the reason box" as required in standard RL.9-10.1.  Students then begin writing chapter titles and a reason for the theme selected.  

Wrap Up

10 minutes

Inside-Outside Circles

I ask students to form two circles.  This Wrap-up activity has great potential for students to get up, move around and engaging in academic discourse.  It is a kinesthetic activity that should involve all students in the class. Students are asked to form two concentric circles containing the same number of students. Students in the inside circle face a partner standing in the outside circle. The students in the inner circles are the "teachers."  They are holding their index cards which has a theme written on one side and an explanation on the other side.

The students on the outside circle share with their partner, and I control the timing, e.g., “Inside circle, it’s your turn to share for thirty seconds.  Now students in the outside circle move one person to your left and repeat the process.”  The outside circle can then become the teachers as well but because of the amount of time we have for this activity I decide to just have the students in the inside circle "teach." This is repeated until all students have read their cards to a new student.