8th Grade Lesson Plan: Theme

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Identify the Symbols

One of the most vital skills a student can cultivate is the ability read a text past surface level. We want students to read between the lines, to identify the symbols and allusion, and to really understand the theme the author is communicating. To help them master this skill, we’ve prepared another free lesson plan for 8th graders that will have your students learning about symbolism and theme by teaching it to their classmates. If you’re curious about the lesson plan, you can check it out here!

About the Lesson Plan

The goal of this lesson plan is to identify the theme expressed in a literary composition, such as a poem or short story, and to pursue possible meanings through examining religious or mythic symbolism. The language focal points of this lesson plan are theme, symbolism, myth, allusion, and ritual.

You should start the lesson by activating your students’ prior knowledge of well-known, enduring lines of the poem provided. For this lesson, we’ll be working with “No man is an island” and “For whom the bell tolls.” So, for example, you might ask your students if they have heard the phrase “for whom the bell tolls” before, where they heard it, and what they interpret it to mean. Once you’ve called on their prior knowledge, read the poem aloud to the class. Next, you’ll split the class into groups of 4 or 5. Assign each student within the group to research an idea from the poem to find common associations of the idea in myth or religious works. You may provide the terms or let students chose their own concepts to pursue after reading the poem. Suggested concepts for you to assign in “No Man is An Island” are “basic tenets of Christianity,” “man (i.e., the nature of man,)” “bells,” “island,” “continent,” and “tolls”.

Once students have researched their chosen concept and its connections to myth and religion, they will return to their groups and explain their findings to their group members. Finally, students will discuss what they think the poem “means” and how each concept discussed helped them reveal or relate to the poem’s meaning.

Why Use Read Ahead AI?

All of our free lesson plans leverage the power of Read Ahead AI to help students become better readers. By showing readers key words and phrases before asking them to read, we can boost their overall comprehension. Furthermore, Read Ahead AI lets students choose which words they think are important. In this way, student voices quite literally become part of the curriculum. Time spent reading in Read Ahead is automatically logged as well.

If you haven’t already, you can sign up for a Read Ahead AI account here. You’ll need one to access the presentations we’ve made in this lesson plan. If you’re brand new to Read Ahead and would like a demo, we’d be happy to meet with you! You can sign up for one here.

Happy teaching!

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