When the common core standards first hit my state, I knew I needed to do some research and studying to fully understand the reading standards and how to teach them. One way that I did this was by joining a book club and reading Teaching with the Common Core Standards for ELA. This post will share some of my thoughts and a few free graphic organizers specific to teaching Key Ideas and Details Standard 2 (RL.3.2, RL.4.2, RL.5.2). This standard focuses on identifying theme and summarizing a text.
Click on the links below to check out my other posts in this “series”:
Here is the progression of the standard RL.3 throughout the grades (focusing on grades 3-5 only):
- 3rd graders have to recount a story and then determine the message, lesson, or moral.
- By 4th grade, the term changes to theme of a text and the students have to support the theme with details from the text. Also the term recount changes to summarize.
- 5th graders have do all of this AND explore how the characters react to challenges and contribute to the theme of the text.
Questions to Support Students Understanding:
The section on this standard spent a lot of time focusing on having the students explore how the details the author used contributed to the theme. Questions to ask would be:
- How does this phrase contribute to the theme of the story?
- How does the author’s choice of words help convey the message of the story?
- How does this specific event contribute to the theme of the story?
- How does the author develop the theme through the plot elements?
- How does the author develop the theme through the main character and the character’s dialogue and action?
- How does the summary of the story differ from the theme?
- How do summary and theme connect with another?
Activities for Teaching Theme and Summarizing:
- Read fairy tales or other engaging read alouds with clear themes as an introduction to the skill. Fairly tales typically have easily identifiable themes and are easier for the students to summarize. As an extension for the older grades, read twisted fairy tales from different points of view. These twisted fairy tales typically have different themes from the original. This leads to really good conversation about themes and how they are conveyed.
- Create a list of themes as a class (this works better with the one sentence themes versus one word themes). Have the students choose a theme and then “work backward” to create a story that conveys that theme. Read more about how I implemented this theme activity in my theme instruction here.
FREE Theme and Summarizing Graphic Organizers
Here are a few free graphic organizers that will help your students practice and apply the skills of theme and summarizing fiction stories. Click here or on the image below to download the free graphic organizers.
Recommended Read Alouds for RL.4.2 and RL.5.2
Click on the links below to view my recommendations for read alouds for this standard:
Story Elements Read Alouds – Skip down to the section for picture books to teach or practice summarizing.