Theme is an important concept for understanding texts of all types. Too often, however, students (and teachers!) confuse theme with topic, main idea, or author's purpose. Let's agree that by theme we mean a universal lesson about life that one can learn from a given text.
In discussing the persecution of European Jews in the years before and during World War II, my students would often ask, " How could they let this happen?" Meaning, how could the rest of the world stand by and do nothing? For all the answers I can help students to find, I still can't answer this question myself.
While I'm not a fan of formulaic writing, I'd argue that many students need simple, easy-to-recall structures to assist them with the writing process. One of the simplest, yet most effective, Mnemonic devices I'd recommend is FLIRT.
If you haven't checked out 60 Second Recap, you're in for a treat. 60 Second Recap is a collection of video clips covering the plots, characters, symbolism, literary motifs, and more of favorite classic literature for teens. But it's not a dry, overly-academic examination. It's way cooler.
Book Drum is "the perfect companion to the books we love, bringing them to life with immersive pictures, videos, maps and music." In other words, Book Drum provides multimedia annotations to many the novels you know and love, and some you may not know and love (yet).
How Can Student Created Book Reviews Promote Reading?
This should be the post where I tell you about Troy High , an intriguing and inventive novel which sets the Trojan War in a modern American high school. But I can't. I haven't read it. It hasn't stayed in my classroom library long enough!
The point is, word of mouth "sells" books, especially among middle and high school students. If peer recommendations are such powerful motivators, then we as teachers should take advantage of them, especially if they'll encourage our students to read.
Whether trying to understand the plot structure of a story they've read, or trying to write a story for themselves, students will be greatly helped by an understanding of basic narrative structure. For a few years on the Web I saw this article titled " How a Story is Shaped" resurface time and time again, and with good reason.
The world is a dangerous place to live. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it. ~Albert Einstein
If you're reading a Dystopian or a Holocaust novel with your students, you're apt to see the wisdom and warning in Albert Einstein's words. If so, then keep reading. When studying the Holocaust, my students always ask, "How could people let this happen?"