Saturday, September 6, 2014

An introduction to THEME using song lyrics

This week, I introduced finding the theme of a piece of literature.  For the hook/introduction, I used one of my favorite songs, Am I Wrong by Nico and Vinz.  If you haven't listened to the lyrics of this song, they are pretty powerful.

I began by giving my students the lyrics for the song.  (I can't share the handout that I gave my students due to copyright laws, but you can easily Google the lyrics.)  I read the lyrics aloud, like the song was a poem.  It didn't take long before there were whispers.  The kids recognized the song.  I actually heard one student say, "Do you think she knows this is a song and not a poem?"  :)

Then, I had the students fold the handout in half.  On the back of their lyrics page, I had them write what they thought the "poem" meant using evidence from the text.  The students were then asked to discuss their thoughts and ideas with their assigned talk partner. This got them up and moving.

Once the students returned to their seats, I told the students that we were going to watch the video for the song.  At this point, I wanted the students to use the visual, as well as the text, to determine what the song meant.

After watching the video, the kids used the other half of their paper to again write what they thought the message of the song is.  Some just confirmed what they had originally thought, others changed their entire thinking.  The students went back to their talk partners and grouped themselves with another set of talk partners to make a group of four.  The students discussed what they thought the song meant. Before watching the video, some kids actually thought the song was about a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.

We came back together whole class and discussed the message of the song.  Some of the messages that the kids took away were:
* Work hard to achieve your goals
* Be yourself and don't let others tell you who you are
* It's okay to be different-believe in yourself
* The sky is the limit-chase your dreams
* If you can dream it, it can happen

After this, I showed the kids this video in which the artists discuss what events had happened to inspire this song.

This led to a discussion that songs, books, etc. may have different meanings to people because we all have different life experiences and backgrounds (schema).

From this point, I introduced the word THEME to the students and explained how the theme of a story, poem, or drama is the message the author wants you to take away from the piece of literature.

Throughout the week, we did several activities to practice finding the theme of a story.  For my mini-lessons, I used two really AWESOME books.  Rotten Teeth by Laura Simms and Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg.  Beautiful Oops! is a very simple book, but it is a great one because it teaches the kids that it's okay to make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes can be turned into something beautiful.

During small group or partner practice,  the students created their interactive notebook page. They added some resource pages from my Finding the Theme: Mission Possible pack to use as a resource while completing task cards (I had to shrink the resource pages to fit).  I used task cards from Deb Hanson and Rachel Lynette for my partner stations.  They also completed a Deb's Theme-Filled Cupcake Craftivity in their notebooks as well.  I had to shrink these down to make them fit, as well.

Interactive notebook activities:

Next week, I plan to continue working on theme because it is SUCH a difficult concept, but adding the nonfiction standard of main idea.  I try to teach both of these standards early in the year because they are the two standards that give my students the most trouble.  We practice finding the theme in literature and the main idea in informational text all year long.

I'll be back next week with more ideas and tricks for teaching theme and main idea.

Enjoy your weekend! :)


  1. Love your idea to use lyrics to teach theme. I do not teach ELA this year but I will share this lesson with my partner.

  2. Oh my goodness!! What an awesome way to introduce theme!!! I am pinning this because I definitely want to remember this idea for future use!! I absolutely love the theme of this song, too- so appropriate for students! I like how you started with only listening to the song, and then you gave your students a chance to change/update their ideas after watching the video. I'm so glad you were able to use the theme-filled cupcakes in your notebooks, as well! :)

    1. Thanks so much for pinning this for me! I am glad that you found something you can use in your classroom. I don't know if you have noticed, but your materials are always in my blog posts. Your materials are GREAT! :)

  3. I love this! Thank you for sharing. I own your interactive notebook and I know this explanation of theme will stick with my students.

  4. Question- i bought your interactive reading and language notebook, but was wondering do you tell the students what to fill in or do they do it or is it done with you guiding them???? thank you

    1. It depends on when the kids complete the notebook page. If it is in a guided reading group, then I "coach" them and we collaboratively add notes. If it is done during an exploratory/center activity, they decide what to write down and we come back together whole class to ensure that we have the essentials. Those are the ways I use them in my classroom. I never really "tell" the students what to write because I don't want it to be my work. I want the notebooks to be a meaningful resource for them. I hope that helps.

  5. This is great! I'll admit, I never REALLY listened to the lyrics and I thought it was about a romantic relationship too. Probably because of the line, "Am I wrong, for thinking that we could be something for real?" I think I'll be using some of your ideas this week. I already have your interactive notebook, Rachel's task cards, and Deb's craftivity. Hmm...thinking I spend way too much on TpT!

  6. Thank you, thank you my Fifth grade students loved this activity so much and so did I , had no clue as to how to introduce theme and your ideas from the song to partner talking got my kids engage. I hope you put more of ideas . Thank you again :)

    1. Aw....thank you so much! I appreciate your kind words and I am SOOOO excited to hear that this was an engaging lesson for your kids. Thanks for coming back and leaving a comment to let me know how the lesson went.

  7. Hi! I absolutely love your interactive notebook pages! I find it hard to get the kids to put the pages together in a timely manner so that we can start practicing the skill. How do you manage, time wise, incorporating these into your daily plans? Thanks for any suggestions you may have. Julie

    1. Sometimes I cut corners, so to speak. You can see in the photo above that I have put together the page myself, copied it, and gave it to the students to glue in their notebooks. I don't do that every time, but I do when I am trying to save time. :)

  8. Thank you so much for the idea! I can't wait to use it with my kiddos:)

  9. I love LOVE this idea for teaching theme! I am just coming across your blog and love it. I was wondering what grade you taught this lesson to.

  10. Hiv disease for the last 3 years and had pain hard to eat and cough are nightmares,especially the first year At this stage, the immune system is severely weakened, and the risk of contracting opportunistic infections is much greater. However, not everyone with HIV will go on to develop AIDS. The earlier you receive treatment, the better your outcome will be.I started taking ARV to avoid early death but I had faith in God that i would be healed someday.As a Hiv patent we are advise to be taking antiretroviral treatments to reduce our chance of transmitting the virus to others , few weeks ago i came on search on the internet if i could get any information on Hiv treatment with herbal medicine, on my search i saw a testimony of someone who has been healed from Hiv her name was Achima Abelard and other Herpes Virus patent Tasha Moore also giving testimony about this same man,Called Dr Itua Herbal Center.I was moved by the testimony and i contacted him by his We chatted and he send me a bottle of herbal medicine I drank it as he instructed me to.After drinking it he ask me to go for a test that how i ended my suffering life of Hiv patent,I'm cured and free of Arv Pills.I'm forever grateful to him Drituaherbalcenter.Here his contact Number +2348149277967...He assure me he can cure the following disease..Hiv,Cancer,Herpes Virus,Lyme Disease,Epilepsy, ,Bladder Cancer,Colorectal Cancer,Breast Cancer,Kidney Cancer,Leukemia,Lung Cancer,Non Hodgkin Lymphoma,Skin Cancer,Lupus,Uterine Cancer,Prostate Cancer, fibromyalgia ,ALS,Hepatitis,Copd,Parkinson disease.Genetic disease,Fibrodysplasia disease,Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva,Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome,Liver/Kidney Inflammatory,Men/Woman infertility, bowel disease ,Huntington's disease ,Diabetes,Fibroid...

  11. I'm 15 years old. I was born with HIV my mother passed away because of the HIV infection And I regret why i never met Dr Itua he could have cured my mum for me because as a single mother it was very hard for my mother I came across Dr itua healing words online about how he cure different disease in different races diseases like HIV/Aids Herpes,Parkison,Asthma,Copd,Epilepsy,Shingles,Cold Sore,Infertility, Chronic Fatigues Syndrome,Fibromyalgia, Diabetes Hepatitis even Cancer I was so excited but frighten at same time because I haven't come across such thing article online then I contacted Dr Itua on Mail I also chat with him on what's app +2348149277967 he tells me how it works then I tell him I want to proceed I paid him so swiftly Colorado post office I receive my herbal medicine within 4/5 working days he gave me guild lines to follow and here am I living healthy again can imagine how god use men to manifest his works am I writing in all articles online to spread the god work of Dr Itua Herbal Medicine,He's a Great Man.


  12. Colorectal cancer, cancer of the large intestine, is the fourth most common cancer in North America. Many cases of colorectal cancer are associated with low levels of physical activity and with diets that are low in fruits and vegetables. Individuals with a family history of the disease have a higher risk. I crumble with this disease for 5 years also with a lot of scaring thought in my head because i was just waiting for death every day of my life until My Son came to me in the hospital explaining to me that he has find a herbal healer from Nigeria to cure my Colo-Rectal Cancer,I was so shocked with the ideal also i was excited inside of me.My son asked me to let us give him a try because we have really heard a lot of scammer pretending to cure all sort of diseases with herbal medicine and some of them never get a positive result at the end of it all but we was very confident on this herbal doctor,like i said we give him a try and he sent me a herbal medicine to drink for three weeks, Sincerely I'm telling you today I' alive and healthy no more laying on sick bed,No more Colo-Rectal Cancer.I'm sharing this testimony on here for people who are sick to contact this Wonderful man,His name is Dr Itua.And His contact
    He can cure those diseases like:
    Bladder cancer
    Breast cancer
    Colorectal cancer
    Kidney cancer
    Lung cancer
    Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
    Prostate cancer
    Skin cancer
    Uterine cancer
    Love Spell