Theme & Symbolism in one quick hit!

9 11 2009

Fly Away HomeI find that students constantly struggle with distinguishing the theme from the plot. I try to read a lot of picture books and have them tell me the theme after we have read it. I recently  read Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting to my students and I had them pick out the theme. It is a story about a dad and young boy who live in an airport because they are homeless. It is also a good segway into discussing the topic of homelessness and reasons people are homeless etc… We also talked about symbolism (the bird represents that there is hope and that the boy and dad have hope to someday get a home). This can be used as a warm up to spark student’s writing ideas in their writing notebooks.5 minute picture book= symbolism, theme and a discussion, or at least a thought in student’s s mind about a social issue- can’t go wrong!


The power of a read aloud

27 10 2009

Old HenryToday I read, Old Henry by Joan Blos. I stopped in a few key places throughout the book and the students sketched what they were thinking, or what the story was about. The book’s wise and witty tale is about different kinds of people learning to get along. Henry’s house is worn down and he doesn’t keep his lawn groomed. His neighbors get upset and try to make him change his ways. Henry moves away and then the neighbors realize that they miss him. At the end of the book, Henry writes a letter to the mayor of the town asking if he can come back.

I had the students write a response letter from the mayor to Henry with his decision. We then shared our sketches and letters. We also are working on theme and character type. The students had to identify the theme of the story and the type of character Henry is (round, dynamic)

It was a quick way to review some vocabulary terms we have been working with, and to have the students listen to a story and do a little writing!! I love that even with eighth graders, they still LOVE hearing a story read to them. They all listen intently and they really enjoyed sketching (a non-threatening way to practice comprehension). We also got a laugh out of which students let Henry come back and which students said stay away in their letters.

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