Tracking Themes in Literature

A simple method I use when teaching novels requires only an index card. I write a list of 8-12 themes on the board and have the students copy down the list with one theme per line on the index card. Then I have the students watch for examples of the listed themes and write down the page number only (not a full sentence or phrase) next to the theme.

For example, If the students find an example of isolation on page 10 of A Tale of Two Cities when the passengers on the mail carriage keep to themselves and avoid any contact or conversation with another, the number ten (10) is written next to “isolation” on the index card. By the end of a section or by the end of the novel, the students have a list of themes and examples for papers, timed writes, projects, speeches, and more.

Plus, the index card makes a good bookmark. ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S. I typically give my students a slip of paper with each day’s reading on it, which is used as a bookmark. Usually my students just put the index card in the sleeve where the book card goes.

2 thoughts on “Tracking Themes in Literature

  1. Melissa

    I like this idea! It’s always helpful to have a handy reference for later projects.

    I’ve been trying to decide if I want to reinforce themes with my sophomores as being one-word ideas (isolation) or a statement — which do you tend to use? (Seems like from this example it’s the one-word idea.)

  2. drpezz Post author

    For this, I use one word themes. However, I also use journals which vary greatly from night to night. Sometimes I have the kids analyze a quotation, delve into character, study diction, and so on. This way I hit on numerous areas at once.

    Does this make sense? ๐Ÿ™‚


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