Prior to this lesson, the class discussed theme as a lesson learned from a piece of writing. Students completed “Recognizing Theme and Imagery” worksheet as their daily prompt which relates to classwork for the day. The major part of this worksheet is taken from the website. However, I added a section for students to draw an interpretation of the poem; this is found in the resources below.
Students independently completed the worksheet, which required them to interpret the poem metaphorically and apply their knowledge of theme.
After responding, students shared their illustration with a partner. The partner gave feedback as to whether they understood the meaning of the student drawing.
Questions/answers were discussed as a whole class. Students added details to their response if they heard something that they would like to include.
I realized that at this point most students are able to interpret the poem without any hints as provided on the worksheet before the questions. For my honors classes, I remove the “hints” given in the directions. However, for those students struggling with figurative language, I feel the hints enabled them to be independently successful. The cognitive development of some students is still at the literal level; this will help guide them with interpretation.
Prior to reviewing the power point, I passed out "Theme Notes" which students glued into their notebooks. I explained that they should glue these notes on the right side of their notebooks and use the left side of the notebook to add explanations or ask questions about the power point. As we reviewed the power point, I addressed basic terminology of theme, universal theme, how to identify theme, and validity of a theme.
Throughout my district, students are encouraged to use Cornell Notes (see Resources below) while taking classroom notes. Because notes are very cumbersome and take up so much class time, I have changed my methods this year and provide a resource page for students to glue in their notebooks and interact with the notes in the same way required by Cornell Notes.
Cornell Notes were developed in 1949 at Cornell University by Walter Pauk. He designed this style of note-taking in response to frustration over student test scores and is meant to be used as a study guide.
The sample can be seen in the Resources below. The right side of the page is used to take notes. The left side is used to interact with the notes - add clarification, questions that the student has when reviewing the notes, gaps that are missing in the notes. Also included, is a summary of the notes written at the bottom of the page/set of notes acting as a review.
This style of note-taking has been found to help students problem-solve, become organized, and addresses recall by having students interact with their notes at least three times (as they write notes, review and ask themselves questions, summarize).
After taking notes, students responded to scenarios relating to themes found in Deadalus and Icarus by Geraldine McCaughrean. They responded as a quickwrite followed by whole class discussion referring to responses.
A quickwrite requires students to respond in 2 - 10 minutes (as appropriate) to learning in the classroom. It is an informal assessment of student thinking. It encourages students to reflect upon content either before, during, or after a lesson.
1. By “flying too close to the sun” Icarus took a risk. What situations in your life have put you in danger because you “took a risk.” What lesson could you learn from Icarus behavior?
2. Have you ever disobeyed your parents in order to achieve something great? Was it worth it? Do you think Icarus should have just listened to his dad when Daedalus said, “Keep your arms out wide and fly close to me.” How can you relate this to your experience?
As closure, students referred to previously brainstormed lists of other themes presented in this myth (from a previous lesson) and identified how it related to their own lives.
This Activity could be used with numerous reading activities
These activities were used to elaborate about theme in relation to “Daedalus and Icarus.” There are many themes that could be discussed. The same format could be used if you develop scenarios related to themes within numerous myths.
By giving the students the tools to discuss theme at a new level, I could observe their fulfillment in discussing these issues. They are gaining confidence in discussing and applying lessons using higher order thinking skills. Often it appears that they are surprised at their own knowledge and interpretations.