Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Determining The Theme of Our Stories - Section 1: Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

Before this year I don't think I really ever taught the concept of theme to my first graders because theme was never a part of our basal reading series as a concept that was supposed to be taught.

My district adopted a new Common Core aligned reading series this year.  Theme was one of the new skills that I have been teaching to my students this year.  Even though I had my teacher's edition with me, I still wanted to know the best way to teach theme to my young students.  I thought, "Teaching theme is a hard concept for first graders ... how am I going to teach this skill well?"

I decided that I would structure the lesson where I would ask text dependent questions of my students, we would discuss them in detail, and through that discussion students would be able to determine the theme.  By teaching this way, my students did fairly well.  They were able to think at deep levels.  You'll be able to see some work samples in the closure section.

Teaching theme to first graders is new to me.  I know that my teaching is always evolving.  Even though my students did fairly well with determining the theme, I know I can improve with teaching this skill.  After I taught this lesson I found this resource online: Teaching Theme.pdf. It gave me some food for thought as I saw the progression for how to teach theme throughout the elementary grades.

Just by looking at this resource I have ideas that I can include questions about theme in my read alouds throughout the day.  Just like any other skill, students need lots of opportunities to practice. I know I will continue to experiment in my classroom as I try to improve in teaching this skill.

Staircase of Complexity: Teaching Theme is Difficult

Determining The Theme of Our Stories

Unit 11: Comparing, Contrasting, and Determining Theme in Multicultural Cinderella Stories
Lesson 6 of 6

Big Idea: What is theme and how does it help me to understand a story better?

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40 minutes

Valerie Gresser

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