Day 3: Writing theme statements

Today we continued to discuss theme and students wrote theme sentences for the memoirs they read over the summer. All students received a Table of Contents for their binder today. We filled in our table of contents and organized our papers in order. If you need an example, come see the Example Binder in the classroom. All students need a homework folder and a binder divided into five sections! Pronto! (I have these materials if you don’t!)

  1. Do now: On a piece of notebook paper (titled “Notes on Theme” with L2 in the upper-right corner), students wrote down five ideas central to their summer reading. These need to be abstract topics, not specific topics. For instance, illness is an abstract topic, while cancer is specific. Some other examples are pride, betrayal, willingness to try new things, love, and jealousy. After about three minutes, we shared topics.
  2. Pass in Signed Syllabus and Personal Profile. Any students who did not turn these in today can put them in the “turn in” basket on the table by the window when they return on Monday. Put page 1 of your syllabus (labeled C1) in your Calendar section.
  3. Finish theme notes. On sheet L1, “Theme in Memoir,” we finished our notes on theme. But first, we did a quick review of the definition of theme and the people who could experience theme (the reader and the protagonist). Here are the new notes if you missed them (please fill in at home):
  • A word of warning for experienced readers:
    • A theme does not have to be a cliché (corny, expected, overused; example: “Home is where the heart is,” “Friendship is important,” “Don’t judge a book by its cover”).
    • A theme can sound like a contradiction (two opposites put together). Ex: The ones we love the most can hurt us the most.
  • Steps to find the theme: Look at T2C2:
    • Title: How does it relate to the meaning? (We discussed with partners.)
    • Topic (Students picked the abstract topic written for their Do Now that they felt most applied to their lives to write as an example.)
    • Climax: What is the breaking point for the protagonist? When does everything change for him/her? That’s probably the climax and it can tell you a lot about the lesson of the book (theme). We discussed in partners.
    • Change: Specifically, how does the protagonist change? This is not a superficial change like going from eating breakfast at McDonalds to eating it at Hardees. This is a deep change in personality or outlook that occurs after an epiphany or realization. For instance, I used to be proud, now I am humble. We discussed in partners.

4. Theme writing. On the back of sheet L1, students filled in the funny shapes along the left side, indicating T2C2. They wrote the title (underlined!) in 1, the topic they related to in 2, a description of the climax in 3, and the protagonist’s change in 4. In the box labeled Theme, students wrote a sentence using their topic word that explained what the protagonist or reader learned about the topic.

5. Theme revision. Finally, students (in periods 4-7) received the Theme in Memoir Help Sheet, which contains example sentence structures for complex, specific, non-cliché, contradictory-seeming themes. (This is L2.5 for Standard students; Honors just looked at it and gave it back). If you were absent or if you want it, download it here: Theme in Memoir Help Sheet. Periods 1-2 will receive this handout on Monday.

6. Exit Slip. Students wrote their most successful theme sentence on a slip of paper they gave me on their way out.

HW: Standard – Stones in the River. DUE MONDAY. Here’s an example of what yours might look like:

Let me explain: I’ve lived in four places (red stones): Wisconsin, Carrboro, Paris, and Norwalk. Next to each place I wrote the people that were important there (green stones). Then, I added sensory memories in light purple and dark blue. I added good and bad memories in light blue.

Honors: My Life Theme (Example is on the handout.) DUE MONDAY. Think about what’s important to you on the deepest level you know.What do you really believe in? That should be connected to your theme

Email me with questions.

Absentees: Complete Do Now (1). Turn in your syllabus and profile to the homework basket on Monday. Complete the Theme in Memoir notes (L1) using the information in 3 and 4. We did not do the “Examples of Themes” section or the “Theme of my partner’s summer reading” section. Ignore them. Download and print out (if you can) the Theme in Memoir Help Sheet and fill in the blanks in one sentence. Download and complete the homework. Email me with questions.

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