Posts Tagged ‘theme’

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I have been having a Voxer conversation with some teachers on the subject of Writing about Reading #WabtR. Last week we discussed theme and the difficulty students have in identifying the theme of a given story. So I wondered, what if we give them the theme up front? Julianne responded with 5 common themes she had gathered from Cornelius Minor at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project #TCRWP this summer.

Lori tweeted out to authors this question.

author theme tweet

The responses flowed in, so I retweeted and tagged some of my favorite authors. I just have to comment here on how cool it is to connect with authors in this way.

These seeds were planted, so I decided that students needed to see all of this in an interesting way. I created an Emaze presentation. As the week went on, I got more advice from the group and added slides. Students can see the 5 common themes, the progression from topic to theme involving a character change or a problem and solution. I added in a student reader response sample from a 4th grader along with some of the author tweet responses.

Feel free to use this Emaze in your classroom to teach, review, or reinforce the concept of theme. (Note: On the slide with the video, you have to pause the presentation to be able to watch the video.) I’d love to hear your results. Tweet @MargaretGSimon with the hashtag #WabtR.

Click on the image to go to Emaze.

Click on the image to go to Emaze.

Join in the DigiLit Sunday conversation with a link to your blog post.

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Friday is feedback day at the Teachers Write virtual writing camp. I am now friends with Gae Polisner on Facebook. She is the author of Pull of Gravity, and she hosts the Friday Feedback on her blog. She gave me a heads up about today’s feedback theme, hooking your readers.

The best first line ever written was written by E.B. White in Charlotte’s Web which celebrates 100 years this year. “Where is Papa going with that ax?” Who could put down a book like that? You are invested in knowing what Papa is going to do with that ax.

Here is the first line of Blessen.

Blue is cackling something awful this morning. That’s how she tells me she laid an egg.”

In the Teachers Write Camp a few days ago, we were asked to find an object in our work that has significance. I decided that object would be an egg. Imagine my thrill at reading Kay Ryan’s poem Eggs in this week’s New Yorker. “We turn out as tippy as eggs.” I would love to use her poem as an epigraph for Sunshine. Because here lies the theme: We are tippy as eggs. We are fragile, and we must have love to nurture us and hold us together.

With all this to think about, beginnings, symbols, themes, and the gosh-darn-hard work of crafting a novel, I place here for you to see the possible beginning and end of Chapter one of Sunshine. Does it hook you? Are you ready for another Blessen adventure?

First part:

Sunshine flutters her feathers on my cheek. She doesn’t wriggle or cackle. She’s still and calm, letting me hold her close and feel the warmth of her down. And on her nest, shining like a diamond in the dust is a light blue egg, soft as the clouds above my head on this new day.

According to my momma, chickens don’t like to be held.

“Why you carry your chicken around like that all day, Blessen? Don’t you know chickens are born to roam, not be carried around like a baby doll?”

Last part

A.J. reaches down to gather up my hen. Surveying her like a sculpture, he turns her all the way around.

“This is a fine chicken you have. Guess who knows how to pick ‘em?”

I smile and say, “You have good taste in chicks.” A.J. lets out a loud laugh at the double meaning. Then he crows like a rooster.

“Have you met Tux?” I ask.

“Don’t know that I have. Who’s Tux?”

“Mae Mae’s stray kitty she rescued. He and Sunshine are working on becoming friends.”
“A chicken and a kitten, that’s an unlikely pair.”

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