ALEX Lesson Plan


What's the Theme?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Holly Noles
System: College/University
School: University of North Alabama
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33411


What's the Theme?


This lesson is a beginning lesson to use to introduce the skill of theme. Students will read two picture books "Ranita, the Frog Princess" and "Frankly, I Never Wanted to Kiss Anybody!", determine the theme for each, and then compare them in a writing assignment.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Technology Education
TC2 (2009)
Grade: 3-5
1 ) Use input and output devices of technology systems.

Examples: input—recording devices, keyboards, touchscreens

-  output—printers

•  Demonstrating ergonomics relative to technology systems
•  Demonstrating correct keyboarding techniques
•  Demonstrating safe removal of storage media
Technology Education
TC2 (2009)
Grade: 3-5
2 ) Use various technology applications, including word processing and multimedia software.

•  Using navigational features commonly found in technology applications
•  Identifying digital file types
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
1 ) Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. [RL.4.1]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
2 ) Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text. [RL.4.2]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
3 ) Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions). [RL.4.3]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
6 ) Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations. [RL.4.6]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
8 ) Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures. [RL.4.9]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
20 ) Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. [RF.4.3]

a. Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context. [RF.4.3a]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
21 ) Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. [RF.4.4]

a. Read on-level text with purpose and understanding. [RF.4.4a]

b. Read on-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings. [RF.4.4b]

c. Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary. [RF.4.4c]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
25 ) Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 22-24 above.) [W.4.4]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
34 ) Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points. [SL.4.3]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
38 ) Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking. [L.4.1]

a. Use relative pronouns (who, whose, whom, which, that) and relative adverbs (where, when, why). [L.4.1a]

b. Form and use the progressive (e.g., I was walking; I am walking; I will be walking) verb tenses. [L.4.1b]

c. Use modal auxiliaries (e.g., can, may, must) to convey various conditions. [L.4.1c]

d. Order adjectives within sentences according to conventional patterns (e.g., a small red bag rather than a red small bag). [L.4.1d]

e. Form and use prepositional phrases. [L.4.1e]

f. Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.* [L.4.1f]

g. Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., to, too, two; there, their).* [L.4.1g]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
39 ) Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing. [L.4.2]

a. Use correct capitalization. [L.4.2a]

b. Use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text. [L.4.2b]

c. Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence. [L.4.2c]

d. Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed. [L.4.2d]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
40 ) Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening. [L.4.3]

a. Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.* [L.4.3a]

b. Choose punctuation for effect.* [L.4.3b]

c. Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion). [L.4.3c]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
43 ) Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal precise actions, emotions, or states of being (e.g., quizzed, whined, stammered) and that are basic to a particular topic (e.g., wildlife, conservation, and endangered when discussing animal preservation). [L.4.6]

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will use reading, writing and speaking skills to compare and contrast themes that include the same characters and storyline.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will gather information from print, take notes, and sort evidence into graphic organizers then put that information into a paragraph.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Books with the same story line can be used, but for this lesson, we will be using Ranita the Frog Princess, by Carmen Agra Deedy, and Frankly, I Never Wanted to Kiss Anyone! by Nancy Loewen.

Attached graphic organizer



Technology Resources Needed:

Smartboard (or any interactive board with

Computer with Internet or Printer

Word Processor

Digital Projector with Internet Access to TeacherTube

Edmodo Group where students can type their open ended response to be graded


StoryKit or Toontastic App (both are free apps)


Theme is one of the more difficult elements of a story to identify. A theme is a story’s message. It is what the author of a piece of text wants you to remember most.  The theme of a fable is its moral. The theme of a parable is its teaching. The theme of a piece of fiction is its view about life and how people behave.

*Remember, theme of a fictional text may not always be this easy. Readers must be detectives and use clues in the story (like a character’s actions, setting, plot events and conflict) to discover a theme.

Here are other steps for locating theme in a story:

Decide what the main topics of the story are. Most stories include topics such as these:

  • Friendship
  • Courage
  • Hope
  • Trust
  • Justice
  • Violence
  • Love
  • Freedom
  • Childhood
  • Survival
  • Growing up
  • Family

Although a story may include several of the topics mentioned above, try to choose the two most important ones.

Go back to the story and identify which clues you have that these are the two main topics. If you have enough clues to support your choice of topics, you can try to figure out the story’s theme from the topics.

Using the two topics and the evidence that you have to support them, decide what important message the author of the text is trying to send. For example, if you are reading a text in which friendship and courage are the main topics, using evidence from the story I might guess that “Friendship can give you the courage to overcome things that you were once too scared to try.”

Teacher will:

handout copies of the graphic organizers and rubric to the students

go over any vocabulary or background knowledge their students might not be familiar with

check TeacherTube to ensure you can show the video

check Smartboard to make sure it is installed correctly for the lesson

get a hard copy of the two books or get the Kindle version to show on the digital projector

Edmodo Group with all of the students added


Day 1:

1. Go over theme with students and show a quick video to explain it better:

2. As a group, review the Smartboard lesson on Themes using a short fable to explain theme to the students.

3. Teacher and students will act out the first story Ranita, the Frog Princess together and fill out the graphic organizer together as they go along. (We Do)

Day 2:

1. Review theme with the students and remind them of the story you did the day before on theme.

2. Read aloud the second story Frankly, I Never Wanted to Kiss Anyone!

3. Have students work together within their groups to fill out the second graphic organizer. (You Do)

4. Ask what the theme of the second story could be to check for understanding. Then allow the students to discuss within their groups how the themes are alike/different. While the students are discussing walk around and make sure everyone is on track.

5. During small groups allow the students to revisit their graphic organizers to add anything they might have left out.

Day 3:

1. Have the students answer the following question on theme using their graphic organizers and rubric to type their response on the computer. The typed response should be typed into Edmodo as an assignment for grading.

Question: Compare the themes in Ranita, the Frog Princess and Frankly, I Never Wanted to Kiss Anyone! Use clear text evidence to support your answer.

2. During small groups, allow the students to pair up or work individually on a computer or iPad creating their own fable or story to share with other students or the class using StoryKit App or Toontastic. The story must have defined characters and a theme of the story in order to be presented to the whole class.

3. Once the open-ended responses are graded, the teacher will post the top 4 on the Edmodo Class Wall for the class to see and make notes on how to add more to their response for next time.

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Assessment Strategies

Teacher observation as students are reading and discussing books

Completed graphic organizers

Teacher will score typed response according to the attached rubric on Edmodo under Assignments.


Have students identify the theme from their library book or other self selected reading book and complete the graphic organizer to share with other students in the classroom.


Students will be placed into groups so that all reading levels are represented.  Students will have a peer helper within their group to help with difficult words and concepts.  Teacher will meet with students who struggle with this concept for follow up lessons on comparing and contrasting.

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.