Lesson 5: Thinking About Theme
- Learning Goal
- Use the plot resolution to explain a theme in a science fiction novel.
- Approximately 2 Days (40-45 minutes for each class)
- Necessary Materials
- Provided: Plot Conflict Worksheet and Thinking about Theme Worksheet (Student Packet, pp. 21-22)
Not Provided: Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett
Activation & Motivation
Ask students to share the title of their favorite movie or book and discuss its message. Ask: "What was the main conflict in this book or movie and how was it resolved? What lessons did you learn based on the conflict resolution? Did the message of the movie or book impact your life, beliefs, or thoughts in any way?"
will explain that science fiction stories always convey a theme, or a message the author wants to tell the reader. There can be multiple themes in one book, with one main theme or message usually stronger and more prominent than the others.
I will explain that one way to figure out the theme of a book is to look at how plot conflicts were resolved. I will review the plot conflicts we recently learned about in Lesson 4. I will evaluate the conflict of Johnny vs. Himself. I recall that Johnny initially had a problem deciding whether to help the ScreeWees or whether to play and shoot them as expected. The conflict was resolved when Johnny decided to help the ScreeWees and do the right thing.
I will think about what kind of message the author might want me, the reader, to understand about this plot conflict. I will ask think aloud: "What can I learn about life from the way this conflict was resolved? What do I think the author is trying to tell the reader?" From what I have learned from this Character vs. Self plot conflict, I can say that a message the author wants readers to understand is, “Do the right thing, even when it’s different from everyone else’s actions or expectations.” The author wants readers to do what’s right, rather than what’s expected. I will write this on chart paper as one theme of Only You Can Save Mankind.
Ask: "How can I explain a theme in a science fiction novel?" Students should answer that one way to understand a theme is by recalling the details of how a plot conflict is resolved and thinking about the message the author is trying to convey about the resolution.
will recall think about another theme in the book. We will recall how the plot conflict between the ScreeWees and Society was resolved. We can recall that the ScreeWees’ role was to get shot by the players. In spite of this challenge, the ScreeWees had to find the Chosen One to save them. They put their trust in Johnny Maxwell, even if some of the ScreeWees wanted to continue fighting against him. By putting their trust in Johnny, a human, they were saved and taken across the border.
Using the information we know about how this plot conflict was resolved, we will think about the kind of message the author might want readers to learn from this plot conflict. Note: Possible themes for this resolution might include: “Have trust,” “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” “Don’t back down,” or “You may find help in unlikely places.” We will write the themes about this plot resolution on chart paper.
will work with a partner or team to examine a major theme in the book based on how the plot conflict between the Captain and the Gunnery Officer was resolved. You will recall information about this plot conflict using the Plot Conflict Worksheet you completed during Lesson 4. (See Student Packet, page 21.) You will fill out the Thinking about Theme Worksheet in your Student Packet and identify the main theme of the book based on this plot conflict.(See page 22 in the Student Packet.)
will come back together to discuss the main theme of Only You Can Save Mankind. (e. g. Fighting and violence doesn’t solve all problems.) We will keep a list of the major themes we have identified. We will engage in a discussion of the following questions: Why would an author want to include a theme in a book? How can you apply one theme from this book to your life?
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