Theme is one of the most difficult things for my students to “get”. It is abstract and often buried in single sentences or actions. Oh, and we’ve been teaching our students (through standardized testing) that every answer is a multiple choice question and a black/white right/wrong response. So when I ask them to dig deeper I get this: “This is too haaaarrrddd!” “It doesn’t say…” “Can’t I just say it’s about the fight?”
I’ve been trying to find more effective ways for my students to dig deeper without knowing that’s what they are doing. (Sneaky, right!) Last year I started with post-its. This year I’m using bigger ones! When we are reading a novel, we are charting explicit statements from the text (think quotes) including page numbers. Then I am asking them why they think it is significant to the world at large. What does it say about human nature or life in general? They love it… and I’m getting some pretty great responses. Of course I’m also getting some not so great responses, but we talk about those, too. After all, life isn’t just about being “right” all the time!
Maybe you need an idea? Let me know what you think!