As part of my occasional series on how I teach writing, today I’m presenting a mini-lecture that can be used by both middle school and high school English teachers to help our kids understand theme:

If you want the slides I used in the video, click here to grab a free set. Have an idea for a fresh Harry Potter or Shrek theme? “Leave a Reply” in the space below.

Want more help with writing instruction, including high-interest lessons and exemplar student sample essays? Check out these materials for the following:
Personal narrative writing
Argument writing
Blog-based approach to research writing

Teach on, everyone.

Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. Haven’t had a chance to watch this vid yet, but I did want to chime in with a strong recommendation for the personal narrative materials. Just used the assignment slip, student models, and rubric provided in the bundle to introduce the writing assignment. Students color-coded the requirements on the assignment slip and then found the examples in the models (very helpful to explain the difference between general thoughts and internal dialogue). Then they worked in groups to grade the models using the rubric, and we finished with a variation of the topic slides to get them brainstorming. A most effective block day in Ms. Alvarez’s room indeed!

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  2. What people choose to be is more important than the way they already are.

    The wording is rough, but I think that basic idea could be theme starter for Harry Potter with the sorting hat. Harry could have been in Slytherin (ambition/cunning), but he chose to be in Gryffindor (bravery). Arguably, Hermione and Ron could be the same way. Hermione could have been in Ravenclaw (intelligence), and Ron could have been in Hufflepuff (loyalty). They all chose to be brave, which had a huge impact on the events of the story.

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  3. Aw, thanks for the note of support, Annette! LOVE knowing that the narrative writing pieces are working for your kids. Success! 😀

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  4. Awesome, Julie, my fellow Potterhead! I’d then take that line and ask my kids to polish it up. Perhaps require them to rewrite the idea without ending with the “are” verb and see what they create. I’d bet they’d find some greatness in that idea! 🙂

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  5. This is awesome, thank you so much! I’m a first year ELA teacher so this website is super helpful to me. I’m still trying to find my “flow” and keep the creative juices flowing. It’s nice to see how someone else teaches a lesson, then you can tweak it to fit your own needs.

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  6. So glad you found the blog, Paige. Welcome to the party! And, don’t worry, it takes all of us awhile to find our way – you’re far from alone. 🙂

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  7. I write the words “the message” on the board and then in a bright color, I put a box around the letters t-h-e-m-e. I also have my students ask themselves: What did the protagonist learn? That will usually lead them down a path to a great discovery!

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  8. Oh, Sarah, you just made my brains melt! DEFINITELY using this idea next time around. Awesome! 😀

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high school English, middle school, Uncategorized, writing

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