The Whipping Boy - Theme

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SWBAT determine the theme of a text by using details from the text to guide their determinations.

Big Idea

Students will learn what theme means and how they can determine the theme of a story by drawing on details within the text to determine theme. They will also learn that there can be multiple themes for a text.


What is Theme?

15 minutes

During this Unit, we have read "The Whipping Boy" by Sid Fleischman.  We have focussed on comprehension strategies during this unit.  In the previous lesson, we finished reading the story.  In this lesson we are going to learn about theme, practice identifying the theme,and then determine the theme of "The Whipping Boy."

To start our lesson out, I will define theme for the students:  

Theme is a message the author is trying to covey with the readers.  A piece of literature may have more than one theme.

I will be using "Aespo's Fables" by Jerry Pinkney to give the students experience with theme.  I will read a few to the class, and then I will have them practice on their own.  

I will read "The Lion and the Mouse," "The Boy and the Almonds," and "The Grasshopper and the Ants."  You really could use any of the fables for a class dialogue on theme.  After reading each of the stories, we will talk about the theme of each.  

Fleischman, S. (2003). The Whipping Boy. New York, NY : Greenwillow Books

Pinkney, J. (2000). Aesop's Fables. Ney York, NY : SeaStar Books

Uncovering Theme in Fables

30 minutes

Now that the students have a better understanding of what theme is, they will get a chance to practice on their own.  I have copied (I have a classroom set of this book, but each of the fables has the moral, which leads to the theme, at the bottom of each story.)  a fable, covering up the moral at the bottom for each student.  I divided the students up into groups and had each student in the group reading the same fable independently.  I also like the copy version because I asked the students to highlight parts of the story that might lead them to the theme.  

Once they have read and highlighted their fables, they must think about the theme of the fable. When they are ready to discuss the theme with their group, I will instruct them to turn their papers upside down so the rest of the group knows they are ready without disturbing those who are still finishing.  When everyone in the group is finished, they will discuss the themes they came up with for the fable.

The Whipping Boy - Theme

15 minutes

Now that the students are familiar with them and had a chance to practice determining theme using details from the text, I will have them work in groups to determine the them for "The Whipping Boy" by Sid Fleischman.  They will use details from the text to support their ideas about the theme.  When their group has deterimined the theme of the novel, I will have their group spokes person present to the class their ideas about the theme and why they chose that theme. 

To wrap up the lesson, I will reiterate the idea that a story can have more than one theme and that it is ok if groups came up with different themes.