Education Technology

NCTE: Collaborating on Theme

Published on 07/19/2006

Activity Overview

Students will analyze the themes contained in several short stories provided by the teacher. With the teacher's assistance, the students will then evaluate how the theme is the central meaning of the story and lends to the merit of the work.

Before the Activity

See the attached Activity PDF file for detailed instructions for this activity.

Print the appropriate pages from the Activity for your class.

Install the LearningCheck(tm) App on the students' graphing calculators following the attached instructions.

Review the terms theme, conflict, dialogue, characterization, repetition, and symbol using the "Theme Analysis Activity" sheet from Activity 1. Tell the students that today they will read a short story (or stories) and analyze the theme in them using the same method they practiced in Activity 1. Have the students open the LearningCheck(tm) file, THEME.edc, on their devices and select the "Theme2" section of the file.

During the Activity

  • Distribute the appropriate pages from the Activity to your class
  • Distribute the LearningCheck(tm) file(s) to your class using TI Connect(tm) and the appropriate TI Connectivity cable
  • Follow the procedures outlined in the Activity


  • Students will: Comprehend theme in literary works and works of popular culture.
  • Analyze a short story to identify the theme.
  • Develop their own thematic ideas and themes for a story.
  • Identify and evaluate the literary element of theme in professional models and peer writing.
  • After the Activity

    If the entire class read and analyzed the same story, then you should have a representative from each group present their theme statements and if time permits, discuss the rationale behind each statement. If there is wide variation in the statements, you should lead a class discussion to develop a class theme statement. This discussion should be used to also clarify any misconceptions held by the students regarding theme analysis or definition.

    If the small groups read and analyzed different stories, then you should have each group briefly retell the story (if it is not already familiar to the class) before reading the group's theme statement. The group members should explain how the statement was developed, citing specific elements in the story to support their decisions. Use the group presentations to help clarify any misconceptions demonstrated in these analyses.

    After the group debriefings, have the class critique the author's theme from the standpoint of how it contributes to the literary merit of the story. If the class analyzed more than one story, perform this critique on one story with which the entire class is familiar. Let the class know that in the next activity, they will be designing original themes of their own using these now-familiar criteria. Their themes can be related to the characters, settings, and plots they have already developed in the lessons about "Character and Characterization, Setting, and Conflict and Plot" or they can be completely new and isolated ideas.