Finding the theme of a text

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This presentation shows readers how to find the theme of a text. For a study guide for students, and stories and activities for finding themes, purchase my Teaching About Theme unit on TeachersPayTeachers:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Teaching-About-Theme-342213

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  • By Emily Kissner
  • Finding the theme of a text

    1. 1. How can I find the theme of a text?
    2. 2. What is theme? Theme is the underlying message of a story or poem Theme is a big idea, something that you can learn about life in general
    3. 3. Finding themes Sometimes, an author will come right out and state the theme of a story or poem I looked at all the candy I could buy. I had the dollar, right here in my hand, but suddenly I didn’t feel hungry. I wished that I hadn’t stolen the dollar. I wished that I hadn’t taken the money from my brother’s bank. “I don’t think I want to buy anything today,” I muttered quickly to the clerk. Then I ran from the store. I had learned something important—it’s better to be honest than to have money.
    4. 4. Finding themes Sometimes, an author will come right out and state the theme of a story or poem I looked at all the candy I could buy. I had the dollar, right here in my hand, but suddenly I didn’t feel hungry. I wished that I hadn’t stolen the dollar. I wished that I hadn’t taken the money from my brother’s bank. “I don’t think I want to buy anything today,” I muttered quickly to the clerk. Then I ran from the store. I had learned something important—it’s better to be honest than to have money.
    5. 5. Finding theme Authors usually tell readers the theme toward the end of a story Reading hint: Look at the last page of a story to see if you can find a stated theme
    6. 6. Finding theme Sometimes, though, the theme is not stated. Then, you need to make an inference. We knew that it was time to set the butterfly free. We had seen it make its chrysalis and emerge. Then it had flown around in the cage, trying to stretch its wings. Although we felt a little sad, we opened the lid to the cage one evening. The butterfly seemed confused and didn’t leave at first. Then, in one burst of zigzag fluttering, it erupted from the cage and flew all the way to the end of the yard and down the hill by the school. “That was the right thing to do,” Aidan said. “I know,” I answered, even though I already worried about the butterfly. What would it eat? How would it live?
    7. 7. Finding theme Sometimes, though, the theme is not stated. Then, you need to make an inference. We knew that it was time to set the butterfly free. We had seen it make its chrysalis and emerge. Then it had flown around in the cage, trying to stretch its wings. Although we felt a little sad, we opened the lid to the cage one evening. The butterfly seemed confused and didn’t leave at first. Then, in one burst of zigzag fluttering, it erupted from the cage and flew all the way to the end of the yard and down the hill by the school. “That was the right thing to do,” Aidan said. “I know,” I answered, even though I already worried about the butterfly. What would it eat? How would it live? What clues lead us to the theme?
    8. 8. Finding theme Sometimes, though, the theme is not stated. Then, you need to make an inference. We knew that it was time to set the butterfly free. We had seen it make its chrysalis and emerge. Then it had flown around in the cage, trying to stretch its wings. Although we felt a little sad, we opened the lid to the cage one evening. The butterfly seemed confused and didn’t leave at first. Then, in one burst of zigzag fluttering, it erupted from the cage and flew all the way to the end of the yard and down the hill by the school. “That was the right thing to do,” Aidan said. “I know,” I answered, even though I already worried about the butterfly. What would it eat? How would it live? What clues lead us to the theme?
    9. 9. Finding theme Sometimes, though, the theme is not stated. Then, you need to make an inference. We knew that it was time to set the butterfly free. We had seen it make its chrysalis and emerge. Then it had flown around in the cage, trying to stretch its wings. Although we felt a little sad, we opened the lid to the cage one evening. The butterfly seemed confused and didn’t leave at first. Then, in one burst of zigzag fluttering, it erupted from the cage and flew all the way to the end of the yard and down the hill by the school. “That was the right thing to do,” Aidan said. “I know,” I answered, even though I already worried about the butterfly. What would it eat? How would it live? Wild creatures should be free
    10. 10. Finding theme You’ve probably read something with this theme before. And that’s one of the neat things about theme—the same ideas are repeated over and over. We knew that it was time to set the butterfly free. We had seen it make its chrysalis and emerge. Then it had flown around in the cage, trying to stretch its wings. Although we felt a little sad, we opened the lid to the cage one evening. The butterfly seemed confused and didn’t leave at first. Then, in one burst of zigzag fluttering, it erupted from the cage and flew all the way to the end of the yard and down the hill by the school. “That was the right thing to do,” Aidan said. “I know,” I answered, even though I already worried about the butterfly. What would it eat? How would it live? Wild creatures should be free
    11. 11. Common themes • Persistence pays off • Honesty is better than cheating • It’s more important to be nice than to be popular • Be careful what you wish for • Love is the most important force
    12. 12. Can you find the theme? A day to play Got washed away. Rain comes down, Covers town. Eyes are sad. Rain is bad! Come downstairs. Get the chairs. Blankets, sheet, Looking neat! Inside forts Instead of sports Rainy day tears Can turn into cheers. How does the speaker feel about the beginning of the poem? How do the speaker’s feelings change?
    13. 13. Can you find the theme? A day to play Got washed away. Rain comes down, Covers town. Eyes are sad. Rain is bad! Come downstairs. Get the chairs. Blankets, sheet, Looking neat! Inside forts Instead of sports Rainy day tears Can turn into cheers. Choices Persistence pays off. Good can come from bad. A cheerful attitude can overcome obstacles. Love conquers all
    14. 14. Can you find the theme? A day to play Got washed away. Rain comes down, Covers town. Eyes are sad. Rain is bad! Come downstairs. Get the chairs. Blankets, sheet, Looking neat! Inside forts Instead of sports Rainy day tears Can turn into cheers.
    15. 15. Can you find the theme? A day to play Got washed away. Rain comes down, Covers town. Eyes are sad. Rain is bad! Come downstairs. Get the chairs. Blankets, sheet, Looking neat! Inside forts Instead of sports Rainy day tears Can turn into cheers.
    16. 16. Can you find the theme? A day to play Got washed away. Rain comes down, Covers town. Eyes are sad. Rain is bad! Come downstairs. Get the chairs. Blankets, sheet, Looking neat! Inside forts Instead of sports Rainy day tears Can turn into cheers. Good can come from bad. A cheerful attitude can overcome obstacles. Either one of these can be supported with details from the text
    17. 17. Can you find the theme? A day to play Got washed away. Rain comes down, Covers town. Eyes are sad. Rain is bad! Come downstairs. Get the chairs. Blankets, sheet, Looking neat! Inside forts Instead of sports Rainy day tears Can turn into cheers. Good can come from bad. Evidence from the text: -The day starts out badly, because of the rain -The speaker builds indoor forts -The speaker realizes that rainy days can still be fun
    18. 18. Can you find the theme? A day to play Got washed away. Rain comes down, Covers town. Eyes are sad. Rain is bad! Come downstairs. Get the chairs. Blankets, sheet, Looking neat! Inside forts Instead of sports Rainy day tears Can turn into cheers. A cheerful attitude can overcome obstacles. Can you find evidence to support this?
    19. 19. What have you learned? What is theme?
    20. 20. What have you learned? What is theme? Theme is the underlying message of a piece of text
    21. 21. What have you learned? How can I find the theme?
    22. 22. What have you learned? How can I find the theme? Sometimes, the author will state the theme, usually somewhere near the end Sometimes, we have to use clues to figure out the theme
    23. 23. Your turn • Think about book you have read and movies you have watched • What themes did you notice? Do you see the same themes come up again and again? • Now it’s time for you to find some themes in your reading!
    24. 24. More on theme For more on finding theme and a list of universal themes, see my book Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Retelling: Skills for Reading, Writing, and Test-Taking, available from Heinemann.

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