Freshmen: Delving Into Theme

This week, students will begin composing their final major paper of the semester: an essay exploring a theme of To Kill a Mockingbird. When I introduce the concept of theme to students, I tell them it’s that bit of wisdom—that nugget of truth—which they will take with them long after the details of the story have faded from their memories. Theme is the central message that helps readers better understand their world and their role in it. Students will be encouraged to choose a topic that resonated with them (i.e. coming-of-age, community, justice, courage, tolerance, education) and develop a thoughtful, articulate statement of what Harper Lee teaches us about the topic.

We will begin the week with a review of the concept of theme, and students will work together to compose strong theme statements. Throughout the course of the week, students will have time to pre-write and draft their essays in class, and they will engage in a series of mini-lessons that focus on the writing skills with which we need continued practice. Students will learn about plagiarism, analyzing evidence, writing strong introduction paragraphs, and writing strong topic sentences.

Parents, how can you help?

  • Encourage your child to share his or her thinking and writing with you. Having an extra person to share ideas with can give your child the opportunity to deepen their thinking. Ask them questions, and push them to consider possibilities and alternatives.
  • Encourage your child to seek extra help from me during the essay process. I’m available before school, after school, and during certain periods of the school day to provide feedback and re-teach concepts that students struggle with.