Last week I was able to visit another one of my favorite classrooms. This fifth grade group is so smart about talking about books. I was thrilled that they were working on that when I came that day. The focus of the day was: Themes of a book.
The class started by looking at a story in their basal reader. The students realized that they might have different viewpoints of what the theme was. They learned that it was okay to disagree about that. The children then shared what they thought the theme could be. But, that wasn't enough, they also had to prove it by stating from the text proof to back up their theory.
Then in their reader's notebook they had a picture of a tree with a large trunk and bunches of leaves. On the trunk it said: THEME. On the bunches of leaves they had listed what makes up a theme: defendable opinion; moral or life lesson; implied-not necessarily stated.
After that, the teacher read the book: A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. The students listened and jotted down three possible themes and how they would defend it. Quickly, they met in groups of 3 or 4 and shared their ideas. When they came back together, the teacher had several groups share one theme and the proof. What a smart bunch of kids!
While I was there, I shared with the teacher a new book that I had recently purchased. It is called Reading Projects Reimagined--Student-Driven Conferences to Deepen Critical Thinking by Dan Feigelson. This book is short and easy to read. It gives teachers a way to have children think for themselves while still guiding them. We always want kids to become independent thinkers and we want them to use comprehension and to use it on their own. So, that means..."teaching them to recognize, name, and extend their own ideas about what they read."
I think in this day of helping kids to read, comprehend, and defend their thoughts, Dan has given teachers a great tool to do just that! A good addition to any professional library!