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I was very surprised when 90% of my English class did not know what theme really meant nor how to figure out the theme of a story/text. No, theme is not the main idea. That is what they thought. However, theme is the implied lesson or message/moral that the author wants us to impart to his readers. As a lover of literature, I was saddened to see that so many students altogether missed the theme of a short story that we read so I decided to find some resources to teach theme. I was pretty impressed with the materials below as they include a powerpoint with guided practice as well as worksheets for independent practice that have solid examples.
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A great way to keep your teens’ brains active in the summer is to encourage them to read books of their own interest. Students are constantly forced to read “required materials” during the school year and this can halt a love of reading. During the summer, students should be able to choose but if you feel your child’s reading comprehension skills could use some improvement, they may just need to be taught different reading comprehension strategies. Tutors can work with students using the student’s own book choice to work on reading comprehension skills and annotation skills. Please check out the below link for an extensive list of books for tweens and teens.
If you want a great summer reading comprehension resource for middle school students with Common Core math, science and writing links, check out the below link:
Topics range from a variety of issues including but not limited to the below. In addition, you can have your child choose a side on an issue and write a persuasive essay. Our tutors are also available for writing tutoring over the summer.
Educators have become increasingly aware that many high school and middle school students just don’t have the skills to read their math, science and social studies textbooks. It doesn’t help that many textbooks don’t exactly use best practices when presenting unfamiliar vocabulary and information, and that content teachers in the upper grades are typically not trained to develop students’ reading skills.
Below are some strategies for middle and high school students to use to increase their comprehension.
Especially for students with learning disabilities, mnemonics such as the PLAN strategy can be very helpful. PLAN stands for:
- Predict content and structure of text before reading based on titles, subtitles and graphics.
- Locate known and unknown information on concept map.
- Add words and phrases to map during reading.
- Note new understanding by making changes in concept map.
Scaffolding reading stages can also improve reading comprehension.
In scaffolded reading experience, teachers give students tools and techniques that help organize their reading experience in three stages:
- Pre-reading stage– students list words associated with the topic, list vocabulary associated with a specific concept and categorize these words.
- During-reading stage– students set a purpose for reading and use the following techniques: visualization (creating images for descriptive words) and self-regulation (adjusting reading rate, making predictions, asking and answering questions.
- After-reading stage– students may complete a plot pyramid or write a summary.
While teaching theme can be challenging as students often confuse it for the main idea, I have found several great resources and wanted to share them. Theme is valuable because it the basis or purpose for reading literature.
Looking to get your middle and high schoolers more interested in reading? Want to have interesting discussions with them about real life lessons? I was so excited to discover http://www.commonlit.org this week at my English team meeting. Commonlit offers teachers, parents and students access to texts organized by theme and lexile level (reading level of difficulty) and it’s all free! These articles are great for working with Common Core as students can defend their opinion using text based evidence. The articles are high interest and include themes such as : friendship/loyalty, morality, prejudice/discrimination, power & greed, resilience, technology, social pressure, and more. Students can read articles at their reading level (5th-12th) to improve comprehension and reduce frustration. Commonlit is also a great way to practice writing as each article has a writing prompt question that can be answered and defended using the article. I definitely plan to incorporate this into my teaching and tutoring and wanted to share it with you.
If you are looking to encourage your children to read or read with them while teaching them different life lessons, morals, history, and science, here are some suggestions:
1) The Great Kapok Tree by Lynn Cherry- explores science topics, cultures, sequencing, personification, maps and more.
2) Goonie Bird Green by Lois Lowry- teaches multiple meaning words and storytelling ideas.
3) Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanion is a picture book about a struggling child who isn’t sure he has a story to tell. This can be used as an inspirational book.
4) Sixteen Seconds in 16 Years: the Sammy Lee STory by Paula Yoo and Dom Lee is a book used to teach that people of many different cultures face discrimination.
5) Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph BEcame the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull and Davis Diaz teaches lessons about perseverance and determination.
I have also done some research and there are some great links that have additional ideas below:
at the bottom of this article there are 15 suggestions for teaching through historical fiction