Grade 4: Determining a Theme and Summarizing Stories, Poems, and Plays


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Reading Literature

RL.4.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.


This lesson plan titled “Determining a Theme and Summarizing Stories, Poems, and Plays” is from the Delaware Department of Education. In this three-day lesson set, students learn to determine a theme by: determining the central idea(s) of a literary text, identifying the difference between central ideas and details in a text, and using the text’s details to determine the theme(s). As a culminating activity, students are asked to independently think about (or reread if necessary) a story they have read in class, identify the theme of the story, and then write about how they determined the theme using details from the story.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that a prerequisite stated for this lesson is that students should have a beginning understanding of how a central message is conveyed through key details in a text (third grade standard RL.3.2).  No writing or speaking/listening standards are listed, but they could be since the plan addresses them. The assessments in this lesson plan do not have aligned CCSS rubrics; they would need to be developed in order to see evidence of the degree to which each student can independently demonstrate the targeted standard(s).


This lesson plan is a good example of how to gradually remove supports, requiring students to demonstrate their independent capacities.  It integrates appropriate scaffolding for students who are ELL, have disabilities, or read well below the grade level text band. It makes reading text closely, examining textual evidence, and discerning deep meaning a central focus of instruction.  The activities and varied assessments expect students to draw evidence from texts to produce clear and coherent writing. The instructional expectations are easy to understand and use. Both poems used during instruction are attached at the end of the plan.