Teaching theme in middle school seems to stump teachers and rightfully so. Theme is a concept that requires deep thinking; a skill middle school students are developing but have not yet mastered. So, how can you teach theme in a way that students will understand and retain the information?
First, begin by teaching the difference between topic and theme.
Students are bombarded with the idea that topics are themes. Everything from "theme" parties to sadly, teachers who misunderstood the difference between the two. How do you combat this?
I begin with helping students plan a "theme" birthday part. They have free reign over all aspects of the party...no expenses spared! Once they have planned every detail from the venue, to the guest attire, to the food, to the decorations, we talk about how this is JUST the beginning of theme and that actually the "theme" of Hawaiian (a party theme for example) is actually a topic.
Project-based learning solves the dreaded-"Why do I have to learn this?"
Develop life long readers and learners because they are always asking questions!
Make definite connections to reading!