The first step in creating a theme collage is figuring out the theme! Students used this graphic organizer to collect information from the text that would help them to determine a theme. I gave students a choice of two short stories, but you could use a variety of fiction or nonfiction texts.
Students answered the following questions: Who is the main character? What are the conflicts? How does the main character react to them? What does the main character learn or how does the main character change as a result of the conflict and its outcome? Answering these questions will help students begin to think about the theme, or message, of the text.
Students will then identify universal themes present in
If students are struggling to come up with a thematic statement, I encourage them to try to connect two or three of the universal themes they selected. For example, if a student circled family, nature, and beauty, a possible thematic statement might be: the beauty of nature brings family together. I also ask students, “if the author or character could give you advice or impart some words of wisdom at the end of the story, what would he/she say?”
Once students have gotten the check of approval from me for their thematic statement, they can move on to brainstorming words and images that they want to include in their collage. Their collage must also include their theme and two quotations from the text to support their theme.
At the end of the activity, I have students do a gallery walk of their classmates' work so they can see other examples of themes. I know that all of their final products will be exemplars because students had to support their theme with evidence from the text as well as related words and images (my check of approval is more of a formality).
If you are interested in doing this activity with your students, you can find the directions and handout here. You could also easily do a higher tech version of this activity by allowing students to put together their collages in PowerPoint and then post them on a class website or share them using Google Drive.
For other literature ideas and resources: