As I show students my Desperaux Promethean Flipchart, we begin to discuss story elements. I assess students' prior knolwedge about story elements and discussed our goals and scales for this lesson, as shown on the flipchart. Students are familiar with the basic story elements such as: character, plot, setting from first grade. I build on that knowledge and introduced theme.
Using the flipchart to guide instruction, we begin discussing the theme for Tale of Desperaux. Students are first given a definition and examples of central theme. We recall past lesson about the different versions of Cinderella when we reviewed the Fractured Fairy Tale Unit. These stories have different versions, but they have a common theme. One student mentions that Love always wins. Another student says that Good conquers evil. From these answers, we apply central theme to The Tale of Despereaux. Students come up with various themes: love, friendship, forgiveness....
I ask students to team with their collaborative groups. See source for guidelines on rules, norms, roles for Cooperative Groups. Their assignment is to create a poster that shows the central theme(s) of The Tale of Desperaux. They may use the novel, video clips of Desperaux, and other sources to come up with a central theme. They will also create a presentation for the class for the next segment of this lesson. Students drawing of Desperaux Central Theme reveal themes of love, friendship, and hope. One student drew a picture of Roscurro looking for light and we discussed how that light might represent hope. Of course, this goes deeper into symbolism, but it was an opportunity to build on their concrete knowledge to introduce abstract concepts the way Common Core intended during authentic learning.
Students share out their ideas. During an oral presentation, one student made the association that "the little crack of light in Roscurro's dark cave" symbolized the little hope he had in one day escaping. Students also commented on each other's final products. The explanation, elaboration, and collaboration is the crux of this activity, not the final product. Common core encourages feedback and collaboration from peers. This is a great way for students to develop clear communication skills with others about the content knowledge. My students have become verbally expressive and precise in their communication skills. They are also more comfortable with presenting to the class because it is a daily routine in my class.