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5 Simple Steps for Teaching Theme

If you have been struggling to teach theme, you are not alone, teacher friend.

Typically, my students think the theme is a one-word topic. Or worse, they think the cliche,  you can't judge a book by its cover, is the theme of every single book, story, poem, film, and text message ever written.

I struggled with this for a long time.

Meaning I bit my nails to the quick.

Then I came up with a technique that works like a charm. And I think this easy-peasy method of teaching kids to find the theme of ANY work of literature will work for you too!

Cue the SLIME!

Want to Have a Sweet Start to the School Year? Simple Tricks to Use the First Week

Get off to a sweet start by having kids come up with their own procedures and expectations, and be sure to use this cool twist!
I wish I could say that the words "back to school" make me excited enough to wave some pom-poms. But I'd be lying through my teeth.

The truth is, prior to the first day of school, I'm filled with fear and trepidations, resulting in terrible nightmares. I worry that I've lost my teaching mojo. I worry that I won't have "control" of my classes. I even worry that I won't like the kids and they won't like me.

Do you have those same concerns? I bet you do. And here's the kicker. Our students face similar fears.

Sounds like fun, right? We're going back to school and everybody is scared witless.

I'm not going to tell you the anxiety is ridiculous. Unfortunately, all of those disturbing thoughts are real possibilities.

But I AM going to tell you two simple and powerful activities that you can do to during the first week of school to make sure these fears get kicked to the curb.

You will, in fact, have a sweeeeet start to the school year.

How to Plant a Poetry Garden

My favorite holiday is here! It doesn't require battling crowds at the mall to shop. And it doesn't even require cooking a big meal for finicky family members. The only thing you have to do is share your favorite poem! Here's a rhyme to describe it: Easy peasy!

POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY | Do you want a FREE poetry resource you can use TODAY? Check this out!
I wrote all about it here. And I have a free resource that you can use at a moment's notice here

A few teachers have asked me how I go about encouraging students to "plant" poetry and how I go about getting them to carry poems around on Poem in Your Pocket Day. We "plant" all spring. It's the perfect time of year for it. As the weather gets warmer, we're all spending more time outdoors, so it's easy for kids to find an outdoor location for sharing.

Planting Poetry

When I introduce kids to poetry planting, I show them some photos students have taken in the past. Then I encourage them to find a creative place to plant a poem and take a picture of it for the class to see. Sometimes I make it an optional assignment and sometimes it's mandatory, depending on how much else is going on in the rest of their classes. 

The kids are wildly creative with their poetry placement, and the class enjoys seeing a slideshow of all of the poems when the photos are in.
POETRY | NATIONAL POETRY MONTH | Want a fun and easy way to celebrate poetry with your students? Try these ideas!

Poem in Your Pocket Day

As for Poem in Your Pocket Day, we carry our poems in many different places other than pockets. Most of my students don't wear pants with pockets. They're into leggings, lacrosse shorts, and sweats. I always offer them a cut-out pocket, but only a few take me up on it. Most prefer to carry their poems in other, more inventive ways. Some carry a poem in their phone case, many of the girls will stick the poem down the side of their Uggs, or they'll fold it up and put it in their ponytail holder or tie it into their shoelaces. 

Believe me, these kids are creative and they actually enjoy the challenge of sharing. I ask them to step out of their comfort zone and share their poems with those they meet outside of school. Many of them memorize their poems and proudly recite them. 

Last year, state testing was the same week as Poem in Your Pocket Day, and I almost didn't get around to celebrating it. Then I started to get questions about it from staff members who look forward to it. What really sealed the deal was when kids started asking me if we were going to "do that poetry sharing thing" that their older siblings had done. 

How cool is that? There's no way this teacher is going to let any state test get in the way of a "poetry thing."

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