With that said, I use her books to teach just about EVERYTHING!! We have been diving into THEME and I do not think there are better books for teaching theme in the upper grades. I love that her books are picture books, but have complexity to them that still manage to challenge my 5th graders. I have a group of VERY high readers and they need that constant challenge of reading complex text! Thank you Patricia Polacco for writing (and illustrating) just what I need!!
We always start out theme by reading a Polacco book and talking about what we can take away from it. This time around we read The Keeping Quilt. Once students were able to pick the theme or message from the book we started actually classifying things as THEME.
This of course led to a discussion in the difference between THEME and TOPIC. One of my boys mentioned QUILTS as the theme...insert PERFECT teaching moment (and during an observation-yippee!) to break down the difference in a theme and a topic.
We started our theme tracking anchor chart...
We used this chart to continue throughout our theme unit and our Polacco Book Study Unit that was going on as well.
Specifically for the study of THEME, I had my librarian and her assistant (who are AMAZING) pull several theme-rich picture books. Most of which were Polacco books (but not all). The students partnered up and read one of the books they selected. They had to find the THEME and support their claim with Text Based Evidence (something already taught-another post for another day). They also had to prepare a short and oral summary of their text to give the class.
When all groups were finished we gathered and each group briefly presented their book and the theme or themes that they felt for with their book. I had previously printed a small picture of the cover of their book so that it could be added to an appropriate section on our theme poster.
All of this THEME practice (coupled along with applying it to our daily read aloud of Wonder) led me to a wonderful technology rich assignment, the THEME AMAZON POSTER ASSIGNMENT. Stay tuned for some insight and a FREEBIE of this assignment. It stemmed from another assignment from another teacher blogger and therefore it shall be FREE! :)