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Developer: Ryan Campeau Subject/Grade: 4th/5th grade reading Date(s): 10/3-6; 10/9/17

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.2: Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in
the text; summarize the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.1: Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the
text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1.C: Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases.

Learning Target(s):
1) Identify themes in stories.
2) Identify evidence to support the theme.
3) Read and analyze stories.
4) Writing about theme and evidence.

Understandings: How theme is different than topic; identifying themes across genres (songs,
books, movies); one story has many themes

Lesson Summary: Students will explore topics, themes, editing themes, and identifying
supporting evidence through engaging with theme-worthy picture books in whole-class and
partner contexts, and finally build skills to independently write about themes and supporting
evidence in stories.

How do the learning targets connect to students’ prior knowledge?

- Students were exposed to theme in the weeks preceding these lessons through a literacy
pre-assessment that asked them to identify themes and provide supporting evidence;
reviewing exemplary student responses to the pre-assessment, and through a brief
explanation that theme is a life lesson or moral in a book.)
- Students have reported in surveys and conversations and shown during read-aloud and
silent reading that they are avid readers! They have therefore been exposed to themes and
are able to practice the related literacy skills of decoding texts.
- Learning targets of prior lessons focused on “analyzing,” and students learned the meaning
of “analyze” with a visual/gesture of pulling out their magnifying glass to look more closely at
parts of the text.
- In the reading lessons preceding these, students were asked to look for important ideas and
deeper meaning in their independent reading books without explicitly asking them to name
themes. Reading mini-lessons focused on writing about their reading and how that process
will push them to think more deeply about their books.
- Many students have named examples and evidence as traits of quality writing

Assessment evidence:
Pre-assessment for unit on analyzing themes with evidence in literature: 2 of the 26 students
were able to identify an appropriate theme for the text (a short excerpt from a longer book), and
1 of those 2 students supported their themes with evidence.
Formative assessments: How are students able to identify themes and evidence when they
work in whole-class and partner contexts? Evidence in written/edited theme on Day 1;
completed graphic organizer on Day 2; written paragraphs on Day 3; and responses to peer
writing on Day 4.
Post-assessment: Are they able to name an appropriate theme for a picture book, in a complete
sentence, and identify evidence from the text, when working individually? Are they furthermore
able to utilize the paragraph format modeled and practiced in the learning segment? Evidence in
written paragraphs completed on Day 5.

Student Voice:
● Students are asked in Lessons 1 and 3 to explain the learning targets in their own words.
● Students are asked in Lesson 2 to reflect on and explain why it is important to provide
● Students reflect at the end of Lesson 3 on which parts of the process that supports
identifying theme and evidence is challenging for them.
● Students are asked to name resources to support this process during Lessons 1, 2, and 3
● Students are asked after instructions before every activity for clarifying questions.

Accommodations and lesson adaptations for students:

- Attending to student groupings for partner and small group work so that students with
social/emotional IEPs and who generally struggle to stay on task when working with friends
are supported by students they can work productively with.
- Supporting students who struggle with reading by providing a range of picture books from
wordless to some that include complex language so that students with a variety of reading
levels can access the complex ideas and language demands of the lessons regardless of their
reading level.
- A student with a 504 for written expression and a student with dyslexia may dictate their
writing to me or another teacher during the learning segment and for the final assessment.
- Students with IEPs for reading and writing are served by pull-out instruction at this time.
- By having students work in partners or in small groups, the students who struggle with writing
(e.g. a student with dyslexia) and reading (e.g. reading at a second-grade level) have others in
their group who can read aloud the text or help with writing, as necessary

Materials/Handouts/Texts: Day 1:
- Otter and Odder by James Howe
- List of common topics on poster paper
- THE MEssage anchor chart
- Markers
- Visual display of learning targets
- Equity sticks
- Lined paper cut in half, enough for one per student pair
- Sticky notes

Day 1 Learning Target(s): Identify themes in stories.

Lesson 1 Procedures:
 (Have read aloud Otter and Odder in morning read-aloud.)
 (Students sitting at desk reading silently – Have all students mark their spots in their
books and put away.)
 Connect to prior read-aloud experience (5 min): Ask students to think about that
morning’s read-aloud.
o “What life lesson do you think the author wanted you to know?”
o Quick teach “Stand Up/ Hand Up/ Pair Up” structure – model with co-teacher
o “Once you’ve shared with three people, sit clump-style at the carpet for the
reading lesson.”
o Students move around classroom sharing their ideas about the story and end
sitting at the carpet
 Making sense of the Learning Target (5 min):
o “How many of you were able to name a life lesson that you took away from the
story? (students raise hands) Then you already named theme!”
o (Write on anchor chart: THE MEssage – THEME is the MESSAGE or LESSON
that you can apply to your life!)
o Name this week’s top goal: identify theme – just a fancy way to say “name” the
o Assign competence: “You’re all such great readers, you’re already able to do
this. You just didn’t know it was called theme!”
o (Choral read the learning target)
o Making sense of the Learning Target: Invite more than one student to explain
our learning target IN THEIR OWN WORDS
 If a student says the learning target is to “identify theme,” I say: “what
does it mean to identify? What is the theme?”

● Model the Essential Literacy Strategy (10 min):
o (Post chart with common theme-like topics)
▪ Connect to student’s community assets: At our school, we talk a lot
about all of these topics – love, acceptance, perseverance, cooperation,
kindness, honesty, respect, being yourself…
▪ “A lot of people will stop here and say these are themes, but themes are
deeper, bigger lessons –they require a whole sentence to explain the
author’s message for you, the reader.”
o (Work with whole class to identify and list on anchor chart the topics that apply to
today’s read-aloud Otter and Odder.)
o “I’m going to show you how to choose one of these topics and then go deeper to
identify the theme.”
o (Choose/circle one of the topics: love)
o Support for Syntax: Write sentence stem on anchor chart: “The author believes
o Model thinking: “I think that what the author was really saying is that you should
be able to love whoever you choose. That’s what the author believes.”
o (Write on anchor chart: “The author believes that you deserve to love whoever
you choose.”)
● Guided Practice of Essential Literacy Strategy (5 min):
o “Let’s try it again with another topic– it’s your turn to practice!”
o (Circle topic on anchor chart: being yourself.)
o Set expectations: Turn-and-talk to partner
▪ “Just like I did, use the sentence stem “The author believes…” to turn this
topic into the theme.”
▪ (Quickly pair students who work well together.)
▪ “I will use equity sticks to hear from many partner pairs! Everyone needs
to contribute ideas.”
o Think time/ Clarifying Questions: Any questions?
o Monitor student discussion: Move between partners, listen to discussion, and
consider quality ideas to bring forward.
o Share: Call student attention back to whole-group and use equity sticks to call on
students to report what they and their partner discussed.
o (Choose one sentence and write it on the anchor chart.)
● Model the Essential Literacy Strategy (5 min):
o “You’re ready for the next step to make this sentence into a theme!”
o (On my theme sentence, cross out “The author believes that…” and edit
remaining phrase to make into complete sentence.)
o Language Demand – Syntax
▪ “Your theme should be a complete sentence, WITHOUT ‘The author
believes that…’”
▪ Review: topic is a word, but theme is a complete sentence.
▪ Choral read theme sentence that I wrote on anchor chart.
● Ask students, is it a complete sentence? (Yes)
● Is it a complete sentence without ‘The author believes that…’?
● Guided Practice of Essential Literacy Strategy (2 min):
o Think time: Think what would you do to edit the class theme, taking out the
sentence stem, making it a complete sentence?
▪ Use equity sticks: Invite suggestions from students.
▪ Invite one student up to the anchor chart to edit the sentence.

SEND-OFF (2 min):
● Wrap up: Have each student pair come get a half-piece of lined notebook paper and
write the edited theme they wrote together, and names, on the paper – turn into In-Box –
then return to desks
● Launch students into their independent reading with the goal to look for themes.
● Connect to prior learning: Use sticky notes to annotate as you go! Mark spots in the
text and write ideas on the sticky notes of potential topics and themes. (Pass out sticky
● “It’s OK if you start with just naming topics today! We will keep working throughout the
week on moving from topic to theme.”
● Identify Tools for Learning: Ask students where they can look for some help in naming
topics that they might see in their books, that they can then use to identify their themes
(poster list of topics)
● Students return to desks to read silently.
Materials/Handouts/Texts Day 2:
- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
- Visual display of learning targets
- One copy of graphic organizer for teacher modeling
- A dictionary for each group
- One copy of graphic organizer for each student (22)
- Picture books for student work: Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall, The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do
by Ashley Spires, The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds,
Smoky Night by Eve Bunting, and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown, Zen Socks by Jon J.
Muth, Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya, Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold, Where the Wild
Things Are by Maurice Sendak, The Lion and The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
- Sticky notes

Day 2 Learning Target(s):

1) Read and analyze stories.
2) Identify themes in stories.
3) Identify evidence to support the theme.

Lesson 2 Procedures:
LAUNCH (5 min):
● (Have read The Giving Tree at earlier read-aloud.)
● (Students at desk reading silently – Have all mark their spots in their books and put
away – stay at desks.)
● Review yesterday’s learning target: “Can someone explain what we worked on
yesterday? Our learning target in your own words?” (Student explains “identifying
● Make sense of new Learning Target:
o Choral read “Identify evidence to support the theme.”
o Review vocabulary meaning: identify, theme
o Invite one student to explain the learning objective in their own words.
● Connect to prior learning:
o Building on yesterday’s work: after you identify the theme, you identify evidence
to support the theme
o (Reference prior work, e.g. “Traits of Quality Writing” anchor chart, annotating
other students’ writing, ranking good answers to the pre-assessment…)
o “We’ve talked a lot about how quality writing provides evidence, or examples
from the text! But WHY?”
o Wait time: Ask all students to think about why we should use evidence. Invite
student responses.
▪ Listen for or name…
● to persuade or convince the reader
● to help your ideas make more sense to someone else
● like “showing your work” in math
● reading about your writing helps you to read more deeply, notice
more details (reference prior lesson)
● Introduce new Learning Target: Read and analyze stories.
 Connect to prior learning: analyze = looking more closely at parts, pull out
magnifying glass
● Make explicit connection between skills and literacy strategy: “our top goal for this
week is to identify themes in stories, but in order to do that we have to be able to
read/understand the story, analyze the story, and identify evidence to support our theme
– those are all important skills that support our top goal, identifying theme.”
● Connect learning targets to today’s activities: “Today we will practice both of our
learning targets, identifying theme AND evidence, with a new book that you will read in

MODEL (10 min):

● Model using graphic organizer: Project and explain parts, model using think-aloud,
filling out for today’s read-aloud text The Giving Tree.
o Connect to yesterday’s work: point out boxes in graphic organizer that help
you do yesterday’s work, then build on to practice today’s learning target,
“identifying evidence”
o Importance of graphic organizer as tool: Help you actually practice the skills we
are building this week: identifying theme and evidence that supports the theme.
o In reading a new book with your partner, you are practicing all of the skills that go
into identifying theme:
1) reading and understanding the text,
2) analyzing the text,
3) identifying theme, and
4) identifying evidence to support your theme! It’s big work!
o Think time/clarifying questions about graphic organizer
● Explain procedures: I will call out partner names – first person comes to get a book and
two graphic organizers, second person gets a dictionary in case you need it. Take your
own pencil! Choose where you want to sit in the classroom!
o Decide if you want one person to read it out loud while the other person follows
along with their eyes – EACH PARTNER must read the story, and look closely at
o EACH PARTNER fills out a graphic organizer – up to you both to check in that
you agree
o Notice if there is any unfamiliar vocabulary – check if others understand what the
word means, or use your dictionary!
● Connect to student interests/assets: Give examples of books that were chosen
specifically with student interests in mind, e.g. Zen Socks
● Wait time/Clarifying Questions
● Identify Tools for Learning:
o For reference remaining up on the wall: list of common topics, anchor chart
showing process of writing and revising theme, and my graphic organizer
showing all steps in the process
o Co-teachers available if you’re stuck on any part of the process

EXPLORE (20 min):

● Independent Practice of Essential Literacy Strategy and Related Literacy Skills
o Students work in pairs that were carefully chosen so students could work on
books with themes that would correspond to their interests and personal needs
and are books accessible to the students’ reading levels. Individual students,
especially students with IEPs or who struggle focusing with friends, were also
paired with other students they can work with successfully.
o Move between partners, assisting students to:
▪ Quickly begin reading
▪ Reference list of common topics as a starting place to brainstorm book-
specific topics
▪ Use sentence stem “The author believes that…” to turn topic into theme
▪ Edit their theme sentence – write again in a complete sentence
▪ Identify/write evidence from the story
o Probe student thinking with questions:
▪ Why did you choose that theme?
▪ Where do you see that topic or theme in the story?
▪ What is the next step in this process? How do you know?
▪ How does the graphic organizer help you to practice all of this week’s
o Linger with students who seem to really struggle with one step of the process.
Point them to the anchor chart resources or model again, depending on needs.
Support with questions that probe their thinking and deepen their understanding
of process moving from topic to theme to editing to evidence.
● Assign competence: If specific groups are using great language, really engaging well
in their roles, etc., call whole class’s attention to it!


● Call all groups to the carpet
● Whole-Class Reflection/Student Voice
o Ask students to summarize what our goal was for today, and all week! (Learning
Targets in own words.)
o “How was the graphic organizer a helpful tool for your practice identifying theme
and evidence?”
▪ Take any volunteer responses
▪ Build on student responses, making explicit connections between
their work and the essential literacy strategy and related literacy
▪ Student Engagement: Invite students to make personal connections with
“me too” gesture
● Call on students to repeat what their classmates said, if focus
seems to be a struggle
o “How might paying attention to theme help you grow as a reader?” (Silent think)
o Make explicit the reading/writing connection: “A next step would be to use
this graphic organizer to turn your thoughts into a paragraph that identifies the
theme with evidence!” (Silent think)
o Ask everyone to take a moment to think about each part of this process:
identifying topics, identifying a theme, editing the theme, and identifying
o Draw a smiley, neutral, or questioning face by each section to represent how
you’re doing in that area.
▪ Smiley = I got it!
▪ Neutral = It’s okay, but I could use more practice.
▪ Questioning = I’m really not sure I could do this on my own!
o Model with think-aloud how to self-assess and draw smiley faces by each
● Explain: “I want everyone’s graphic organizers so I can see if I should follow-up with
anyone before the next day – Put your graphic organizers in the In-Box on your way to
your desks!”
● “As you continue reading your books, look for themes and evidence. Each person should
use at least 2 sticky notes today to mark parts of your story that are evidence to support
your ideas about themes.”
● (Students return to desks to read silently.)
Materials/Handouts/Texts Day 3:
- Anchor chart outlining paragraph structure
- Pre-written paragraph from Day 2’s modeled graphic organizer
- Visual display of learning targets
- Lined paper and pencils for each student
- Graphic organizers from Day 2

Day 3 Learning Target(s): Writing about themes and evidence!

Lesson 3 Procedures:
LAUNCH (5 min):
● (Students at desk reading silently – Have all mark their spots in their books and put
away – stay at desks.)
● Connect to yesterday’s work: Yesterday we worked in partners to identify theme and
evidence to support the theme. Remember I ended by saying a next step would be to
write a paragraph identifying the theme and evidence?
● Make explicit reading/writing connection: “The graphic organizer was a tool to
organizer your thoughts SO THAT YOU CAN DO THE IMPORTANT WORK OF
o Connect to prior learning on writing about reading / introduce today’s
learning target: Ask students to reflect on why it matters to write about our
reading – How are they understanding the purpose, how it will help them as
writers and thinkers?”
● “You did most of the work already! You:
o read and understood the text,
o analyzed the text,
o identified one theme, and
o identified evidence to support your theme! You’re practically there!
● Practicing the literacy strategy in a meaningful context: “Today I am going to help
you move your thoughts from a graphic organizer – just a tool – to a written paragraph,
so that you can share your thoughts about what you read with each other! Tomorrow we
will swap books and paragraphs with another partner pair and read each other’s work,
so you will want to do your best work (including best handwriting!) so others in this class
can learn from you.”


● Post anchor chart with paragraph structure for identifying theme and evidence.
● Use my graphic organizer for The Giving Tree: model moving thoughts from graphic
organizer into paragraph (Write on anchor chart)
● Clarifying Questions about Paragraph Structure


● (Students work individually to practice changing their graphic organizer into paragraph.)
● (Check in with student with 504 for written expression: allow him to dictate paragraph to
● (Check in with students with social/emotional IEPs: reinforce expectations, check for
progress, and break task into manageable chunks.)
● (Check in with students who struggle with focus or writing and with student who has
dyslexia, offer support, break task into manageable chunks, and offer them option to
dictate to teacher if needed.)
● (Students can read silently when they finish.)
SUMMARY (5 min):
● (All students should finish in this time, but check in with anyone who hasn’t and assign
another time for work.)
● Reinforce meaningful context & classroom community of learners: Tomorrow we
will have another chance to read another book and learn what our peers thought the
theme was. We write about our reading so that we can share our thinking and learning
with others – and others in the class will have their ideas stretched and grown because
of you!”
● (In extra time, students can read silently, annotate their books with sticky notes looking
for themes and evidence, and/or finish other work.)
● (Read through student writing, especially for student with dyslexia and student with 504
for written expression – if needed, offer these students the option to dictate their ideas to
me and I will write.)
Materials/Handouts/Texts Day 4:
- Visual display of learning targets
- Student paragraphs from Day 3
- Books from Day 2
- List of partners that exchange
- Reflection sheet (22 copies)
- Home-School Connection (22 copies)

Day 4 Learning Target(s):

1) Read and analyze stories.
2) Identify themes in stories and songs.
3) Identify evidence to support the theme.

Lesson 4 Procedures:
LAUNCH (5 min):
● Building on this week’s learning/identifying theme and evidence in meaningful
o Explain procedures: Join partner from Wednesday, read a new book and you will
each read a paragraph that another student wrote about the themes and
evidence from that book
o Read the paragraph, and think about their theme and evidence. Do you agree?
Did their evidence do a good job of convincing you about the theme?
o Do you notice another theme in the story that they didn’t write about? Stories can
have more than one theme!!
o Discuss with your partner whether you: agree/disagree, notice another theme,
o Write a note back to the student who wrote the paragraph
● Connect to learning targets: Focusing today again on identifying themes and evidence
● Model writing note to author:
1) Compliment – support with sentence stems: “I can tell you worked hard to…
because…” – “I really like your [theme, evidence, detail] because…”
2) Add onto writer’s ideas: “Another theme I saw in the story was…”
 Connect to interests/assets: “Like with yesterday’s books, I specifically assigned
books to students that I thought matched their interests and themes that are valuable for
them specifically to hear!”

EXPLORE (20 min):

● (Distribute books and paragraphs to partners)
● (Partners choose a place in the room where they can read and write.)
o Same student pairing as Day 2 – carefully selected so students could work
o Books were also preselected again to match students’ interests and personal
needs (e.g. themes that speak to areas they are learning)
● Probe student thinking with questions:
▪ Why do you think they chose that theme?
▪ Where do you see that topic or theme in the story?
▪ Do you see other themes in the story? Where do you see evidence for
that theme?
● Linger with students who struggle with reading, or who aren’t giving this activity their full
thought. Support with questions that probe their thinking and deepen their understanding
of supporting themes with evidence.
● (As students finish, read over their notes to the paragraph writers and support if students
● (Students can move into silent reading when they finish, or work on unfinished work.)

SUMMARY (10 min):

● Whole-class reflection:
o (Gather students at carpet)
o What did you notice as you read others’ paragraphs?
o Was it helpful to look at another book and how someone else had identified
theme and evidence?
o Did you notice another theme (or themes) that they hadn’t written about?
● Explain reflection sheets: Purpose is for you to monitor what you’re understanding, help
you name what you understand and what you’re still not sure about.
o (Read aloud questions on reflection sheet.)
o Clarifying Questions?
● (Students return to desks, fill out and turn in the reflection sheet.)
o (Co-teachers walk around, assist students where they might be struggling –
especially check in with students with 504 for written expression and
social/emotional IEPs.)
● (Students read silently when finished.)

HOMEWORK (5 min):

 Read and explain “Home-School Connection: Themes”

 Purpose: Help you practice your understanding of themes and connect themes to your
interests outside of school!
 Assign competence: You are the experts in themes now – It’s your job to teach the
adults in your community! And your job to identify themes outside of school in your daily
Materials/Handouts/Texts Day 5:
- Lined paper for each student (22)
- A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz
- Visual display of learning targets
- Songs cued to play on YouTube: "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips, "Cat's in the Cradle" by
Harry Chapin, "Hero" by Mariah Carey, "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack

Day 5 Learning Target(s):

1) Analyze stories
2) Identify themes in stories and songs.
3) Identify evidence to support the theme.
4) Writing about themes and evidence

Lesson 5 Procedures:
LAUNCH (5 min):
● (Students at desk reading silently)
● (Check in with student with 504 for written expression and student with dyslexia: offer
that they can dictate to teacher.)
● (Have all mark their spots in their books and put away – stay at desks.)
● “We are going to end our work on theme with a beautiful read-aloud. You will listen to
the read-aloud, and then everyone will work to identify one or more themes and
supporting evidence on their own, showing where you are in your learning of how to
practice this process of moving from topics to theme to editing theme to finding
● Learning targets / Meaningful Context: “We are going to practice all of this week’s
learning targets in a meaningful context. Analyzing the story and identifying evidence
support your work to identify the theme, and you’ll take the extra step to write about the
themes and evidence you find to make this a meaningful piece of writing for your
teachers to read. In writing, you push yourself to understand more, and you can teach us
about your ideas and insights – you can teach us!”
● Then, we will have a celebration of this week’s learning by listening to songs that have
beautiful themes in them!
● Connecting to personal/cultural/community assets: Invite students to make personal
connections with “me too” gesture if they identified some themes in songs on the “Home-
School Connection” homework
o Was it helpful to think about themes in movies, or TV shows? (Students respond)
o Themes aren’t just for books! They’re everywhere in our lives.

ASSESS (20 min):

● “Just listen for the topics/themes in the story.”
● (Read aloud A Boy and a Jaguar.)
● Pass out lined paper, give students time to brainstorm topics and write themes.
● “Now listen for evidence to support your theme. You can take notes as I read if that is
● (Read aloud A Boy and a Jaguar again.)
● Give students time to write. As they finish, just turn over on their desks and read silently.
● (Check in with students with social/emotional IEPs: reinforce expectations, check for
progress, and break task into manageable chunks.)
● (Check in with students who struggle with focus or writing and with student who has
dyslexia, offer support, break task into manageable chunks.)
● When all are finished, have students pass their papers to the front of the class for me to

EXPLORE (10 min):

● “Listen for themes in these songs!”
● (Play “Hold On.”)
● “Stand Up-Hand Up-Pair Up with three people what you think the theme is for this song!
When you’ve talked with 3 people, return to your desk.”
● (Walk around, listen to student ideas.)
o Assign competence: Notice quality ideas and REASONING (evidence), call out
for whole class to recognize.
● (Play “Cat’s in the Cradle.”)
● “Stand Up-Hand Up-Pair Up with three people, then return to your desk.”
● (Walk around, listen to student ideas.)
● Repeat for “Hero” and “I Hope You Dance” if time!

SUMMARY (5 min):
● Close mini-unit on themes.
● “Keep reading for themes and evidence in your independent reading books!
● “The skills of analyzing, identifying big ideas, editing your ideas, and identifying evidence
are skills you will use throughout your life in school and work! Keep practicing as you
● (Send students off to read and annotate their independent reading books.)
● (Read through student writing, especially for student with dyslexia and student with 504
for written expression – if needed, offer these students the option to dictate their ideas to
me and I will write.)