For this lesson, I am going to read from the book Freedom Walkers by Russell Freedman. I am going to model how I can find themes within my reading. I have found that students often mix up theme and genre. So before I read, I make sure to explain what a theme is and give examples. I also point out how it is different from genre.
As I read I am going to stop and check for understanding with them. Each time I will ask some questions and have them clarify what I have just read. If there is a theme that emerges I am going to stop and model how I came up with the theme. I am only sharing my thinking as I find themes and I am not going to fill in the evidence side at this time. For the first few themes, O model how I find it and explain why I think it might be. I would like to find three to four more as I read, but want my students to contribute to the list with their own thoughts.
Now that we have some good themes we need to add evidence to where the author expressed that theme. I ask the class to give me evidence from what I read that supports the themes we created. I ask them to make sure they agree on the evidence and give as much support for it's relation to the theme.
The last part of the lesson students will be using the themes and evidence we have created to create a journal entry. They will write two entries, one in the perspective of an African American kid and the other as a "white" kid in Alabama at the time. I was only going to have them choose one, but the class was so excited to pretend and write they asked if they could do both. Of course I said YES!
I remind them that I am looking for some evidence from our story and the use of the themes we created to create their journal. I do give some bad examples that would not fit into a journal that from that time. I use a jet and the army coming into town. Since this is not what we read and would be an exaggeration it would not show they theme of our reading. I explain that I want their creativity, but I also want to see the knowledge they have gained from the reading.