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Teacher

Work Sample
Fall 2014 LAE 4941
Krista Popkin Florida State University

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Table of Contents

TITLE

SITE DESCRIPTION
DESCRIPTION OF TEACHING
CONTEXT OF PLACEMENT
UNIT RATIONALE
OBJECTIVES/GOALS
STANDARDS
PRE-TEST
PRE-TEST ANSWER KEY
FIRST MINI-LESSON
SECOND MINI-LESSON
THIRD MINI-LESSON
POST-TEST
POST-TEST ANSWER KEY
GAINS CHART
ANALYSIS OF ASSESSMENT SCORES
INTERPRETIVE ESSAY
APPENDICES
REFERENCES

PAGE NUMBERS
3-6
7-9
10-12
13-15
16
17-20
21-22
23
24-26
27-29
30-32
33-34
35
36
37-38
39-41
42-46
47-48

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Site Description

During the remainder of the Fall 2014 semester I will be completing my pre-internship at
Fairview Middle School, which is located in the city of Tallahassee in North Florida. As state
capital and home to two major universities, it is not hard to imagine how busy and crowded
Tallahassee is. According to the United State Census Bureau, the Tallahassee population in 2013
amounted to 186,411 people (2014). In 2010, the Bureau reported that 53.3% of the population
was White non-Hispanic, 35.0% were Black or African American, 0.2% were American Indian
and Alaskan Native, 3.7% were Asian, 0.1% were Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander,
2.3% were two or more races, and 6.3% were Hispanic or Latino (2014). There was only a 2.8%
change in the population between April 2010 and July 2014, which means that the statistics listed
above from 2010 are relatively accurate for the current population with only slight variations
(United State Census Bureau, 2014).
Tallahassees school district is the Leon County School District, in which there are 25
elementary schools, nine middle schools, and seven high schools. The District Superintendent is
Mr. Jackie Pons and the Deputy Superintendent is Mr. Marvin Henderson (Leon County School
District, 2014). The Leon County District spreads much further than just the Tallahassee city
limits. The United State Census Bureau reported that the population in Leon County during 2013
was 281,845 (2014). Also in 2013, 58.0% of that reported population was White non-Hispanic,
31.4% was Black or African American, 0.3% were American Indian and Alaskan Native, 3.1%
were Asian, 0.1% were Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 2.1% were of two or more
races, and 6.0% were Hispanic or Latino (United States Census Bureau, 2014). These statistics
exemplify the diversity in both Tallahassee and Leon County.

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Fairview Middle School is about five to ten minutes away from the capitol building and
downtown Tallahassee, meaning that the environment around the school is relatively urban.
There are many other schools in the same vicinity as Fairview such as Pineview Elementary,
Rickards High School, and Conley Elementary. Like almost anywhere in Tallahassee the roads,
houses, and buildings that surround Fairview look older. You can tell that particular part of town
has been around for quite some time. Fairview itself appears to have an older building structure.
My cooperating teacher, Ms. Hern, informed me that the school has been around since the 1970s
and has experienced a lot of growth over the years. Classrooms used to be all outdoors but Ms.
Hern states that in the last 15 years that she has worked at Fairview the school has added onto the
buildings and made all classrooms and hallways indoors. The classrooms themselves are dated
but all the rooms I saw were equipped with new SMART Boards. The computers in the
classrooms and computer lab are in good condition; they are only about five to seven years old.
The media center is well equipped with all sorts of supplies that teachers might need such as
butcher paper, cutting utensils, construction paper, printing, books, videos, etc. So while the
schools structure appears to be obsolete their resources are more up-to-date.
Places such as the hallways, cafeteria, front office, and library are overflowing with work
from students, flyers for different clubs, recognition of different sports teams, and words of
encouragement. All of this really contributes to the schools culture and transforms the student
body into a community of empowerment, growth, and expression.
There are four administrators at Fairview Middle School: The Principal Mr. Scott
Hansen, the Assistant Principal of Curriculum Ms. Althoria Pickett, the Assistant Principal of
Discipline Ms. Stacy Stallworth, and the Magnet Program Coordinator Ms. Meghan Davis. Mr.
Hansen wrote an Executive Summary of Fairview Middle School in January 2014, giving a

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description of the school, the schools purpose, and the schools achievements. According to Mr.
Hansen (2014) there are 811 students at Fairview Middle, the majority of which attend based off
of district zoning policies (p. 4). Of this student population 411 students are male, 400 students
are female, 134 students are White (16.5%), 547 are Black (67.4%), 24 are Hispanic (3.0%), 80
are Asian (9.9%), and 26 (3.2%) are Mixed Students (Hansen, 2014, p. 4). Mr. Hansen (2014)
also mentions that there are 532 students on the Free and Reduced lunch plan, which makes up
65.5% of Fairviews student body (p. 4). Fairview currently has 50 faculty members, many of
which have specialized certifications, endorsements, and degrees (Hansen, 2014, p. 4). The
average class sizes that I have seen around campus are about 20 students.
According to the Florida Department of Education, Fairviews 2012-2013 Performance
Grade was a B (2014). Fairview offers diverse curriculum opportunities to help students
succeed at anything and everything. For example, students can take an extracurricular class such
as Jazz Band or Advanced Chorus (Hansen, 2014, p. 5). The time period for these classes is also
the allotted time for FCAT Level 1 students to take a mandatory 90-minute Reading Language
Arts block and/or an intensive Math course. My cooperating teacher is one of several that teach a
group of students for this 90-minute block. Fairview offers electives such as foreign language
courses, journalism courses, all county mandated sports, and several student clubs such as
Student Government, math club, chess club, drama club, and even the Mu Alpha Theta
mathematics honor society (Hansen, 2014, p. 5). The school also offers an IB Prep Magnet
Program, which is an advanced program designed to enhance the educational experience of
students. To be admitted to the program students must score a Level 4 or above on the FCAT,
achieve higher than average grades, exhibit outstanding citizenship, complete an application, and
turn in a teacher recommendation. Students that successfully complete the IB program are not

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only prepared for more challenging AP curriculum but they are also automatically granted
admission into the IB program at Rickards High (Hansen, 2014, p. 7).
According to the Assistant Principal, Ms. Althoria Picket, the goal of Fairviews 20142015 School Improvement Plan is to increase students comprehension of rigorous and complex
texts through the use of reading for meaning strategies. If comprehension at this level is
increased, then 50% of students will score at proficiency on the FSA ELA Assessment according
to the guidelines defined by the state for proficiency. Faculty and staff at Fairview are making an
effort in a few different areas to help students reach this SIP goal. For example, students who are
enrolled in intensive reading classes are taken to the computer lab on Monday, Wednesday, and
Friday each week to complete a reading assignment. These assignments require students to read
a complex text and then answer higher-order thinking questions.
Fairview also has a discipline plan, located on their homepage, that helps keep students
respectful, responsible, and safe (Fairview Middle School, 2014). Offenses are broken up by
severity into classes, Class I (least severe), Class II, and Class III (most severe). Consequences
are also broken up by the same class system and are ordered by the amount of offenses
committed. Some consequences include interventions, referrals, parent/teacher conferences, inschool suspension, out of school suspension, and expulsion. This document also has policies
about suspension from extracurricular activities, dress code polices, and teacher protocol for
handling behavioral offenses in the classroom.

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Description of Teaching

Ms. Herns classroom looks like any typical Language Arts classroom with a few unique
twists. When entering the room, there is a whiteboard and a SMART Board to your left. The
whiteboard portion is divided up by tape into sections. There are six columns, five of which are
labeled for each day of the week and one that is labeled, Learning Goals. The columns are then
split in half creating two rows. The top row is used for first and second period while the bottom
row is used for third, fourth, fifth, and sixth period. Ms. Hern has a daily schedule and weekly
learning goals recorded for each set of periods. The SMART Board is where Ms. Hern displays
assignments or writes on the board during class discussion. Below the whiteboard is a table with
supplies and a plastic bin labeled by period number that serves as a place for students to turn in
daily assignments. Directly in front of the SMART Board is a table and chair Ms. Hern often sits
in during class discussion or activities. To the right of the SMART Board is Ms. Herns desk.
The desk is in the shape of an L so she can always face the class. She has supplies such as
pencils, pens, paper, a stapler, and a pencil sharpener on her desk. She requires students to ask
her permission before they use any of the resources on her desk. Behind her desk is a small
bookshelf with different binders and folders for each period. There is also a filing cabinet that
she keeps handouts and other documents inside of. Most of her printing is done from the printer
on her desk.
The desks are separated into six columns and are facing the front towards the whiteboard.
Each of the two outside columns have three desks while each of the inside four columns have
four desks. On the wall directly to the right of the door there is a supply cabinet that stays locked
during the day as well as a bookshelf that has several middle school level novels sitting on it. On
the back wall there is another bookshelf filled with textbooks as well as bins that hold daily

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writing journals for each period. The back wall is also covered in posters with pictures of
students from the past, their accomplishments, and news article clippings. On the farthest wall
from the door there is table with three computers, which is the standard amount for a classroom
at Fairview Middle School.
Typically, Ms. Hern always has bell work for students to immediately start on. They
record their bell work in their journals, which they know to collect upon entering the classroom.
On Mondays, Ms. Hern hands out weekly progress reports during the time for bell work. These
progress reports update students on their grades for individual assignments as well as their
overall grade in the class. Ms. Hern then comes to the front of the class and discusses the bell
work with the students, followed by transitioning into the next assignment. Assignments are
always displayed on the board unless its an assignment out of the textbook or some type of
activity, in which case directions and/or page numbers are displayed on the board instead.
Students are typically allowed to talk amongst each other during assignments as long as they are
not overly disruptive. Each class also attends a 25-30 minute session in the computer lab every
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in which they complete an online program. Students read an
online article and then take a comprehension quiz at the end, which is then reported to Ms. Hern
for a grade. This online program is designed by the state to help struggling readers, like Ms.
Herns students, become better readers.
Ms. Hern also uses several behavioral methods. She uses positive reinforcement by
calling students out for doing their work and negative reinforcement by calling students out for
negative behavior. She is not constantly telling students to be quiet or to stay on task but instead
only intervenes when the class is completely out of control.

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For the most part, all of Ms. Herns classes follow the same curriculum. Her classes all
have a mix of seventh and eighth grade students but they are all using the same literature
textbook and completing the same assignments. If anything Ms. Hern will modify different parts
of assignments for each class. Ms. Hern has a class of FCAT Level 1 Readers, which are in a
mandatory extended ninety-minute block during first and second period. This is also the only
class that really focuses on any type of writing curriculum whereas the other classes focus on
strictly reading curriculum. The curriculum for this group of students will at times be
significantly different due to their need for more extensive intervention. The literature textbook
is aligned with the new LA Florida Standards and is currently being used in all of the
Reading/Language Arts classes in the Leon County District.
Ms. Hern gives several different types of assessments. She performs formative
assessments such as journal checks and the online quizzes to measure daily/weekly progress. She
also conducts summative assessments such as written tests and portfolio assessments at the end
of every unit to measure knowledge gains. Ms. Hern also uses projects at the end of her units as a
form of summative assessment. For example, she recently taught a unit on figurative language so
students had a project that required them to cut and paste magazine pictures into a file folder and
create sentences using figurative language to describe each picture.
Ms. Herns sixth period is my observation class for the semester, which is an intensive
reading class consisting of mainly eighth graders and some seventh graders. This class is made
up of eighteen students, most reading between a fourth grade and sixth grade reading level.
These students perform frequent reading tests that calculate their Lexile score, which allows Ms.
Hern to frequently track their progress. Since the seventh graders are on the same ability level as
the eighth graders they do not receive differentiated instruction.

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Context of Placement

Jordyn sits in the front desk closest to the door. She stays on task and avoids talking
during assignments. However, in the hallways between classes she is very social and outgoing.
Jalisa sits behind Jordyn. She is another student that stays on task and even encourages
others to do their work. She is eager to help others during activities.
Tenagne sits behind Jalisa in the last seat in the row. She is one of the star players for the
school basketball team. She has trouble getting motivated to read for class but loves reading
magazines (sports, tabloids, and even National Geographic).
Makenzie sits to the left of Jordyn. She likes to be the leader in the group by giving
people directions. She greets Ms. Hern personally when she comes into the class every day and is
rarely in a bad mood.
Alyssia sits behind Makenzie. She is quiet during group work but likes to raise her hand
to individually answer the teachers questions. She shows concern for keeping her grades up.
Adontre sits behind Alyssia. He is very respectful to adult figures, always using his
manners. He is concerned about his grades and often becomes very discouraged if they slip.
Michiah sits to the left of Makenzie. She likes setting an example for the rest of the class
by getting right to work when the bell rings. She is never afraid to bring her questions to Ms.
Hern for help and often asks her for help one or two times each period.
Alaiya sits behind Michiah. Alaiya loves working in the computer lab and always stays
on task. She usually hates reading but becomes motivated to do so if it is on the computer.
Cyrus sits behind Alaiya. He is typically reserved in both class discussion and group
discussion. He is always one of the first students done with his work sometimes because he
rushes other times because he knows exactly how to complete the assignment.

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Avionna sits in the last chair in the row behind Cyrus. She becomes frustrated in the
computer lab because she cannot type very efficiently. She often becomes frustrated with the
work if it is too hard, however, she always pushes through and completes her assignments.
Tarves sits to the left of Michiah. He is one of the seventh graders and is extremely
reserved. He is always on task but he has extreme anxiety about group work. He will often
wander the room doing various other things besides sitting with his group the whole time.
Shaniecia sits one desk behind Tarves. She is very bubbly and outgoing with her friends
next to her. She enjoys making people laugh and always tries to make the teacher and students
smile.
Heaven sits in the last desk of the row behind Shaniecia. She is the other seventh grader
in this period and is extremely outgoing. She takes pride in the fact that she is in class with other
eighth graders. She is always eager to answer questions even if she does not fully understand.
KeyAsja sits behind Heaven. She is self-conscious about her looks and is often reserved
from being picked on. When she gets upset she turns to drawing, often drawing extraordinary
comics or stories. She is easily distracted from assignments by doodling.
Xykiria sits behind KeyAsja. She often makes up very creative raps during class when
she avoids doing her work. To no surprise, she gets excited about reading poetry in class.
Sheltayviah sits in the last desk behind Xykiria. She always gets straight to work when
she comes in but then often becomes distracted midway through. When the teacher gives time
warnings she often rushes through the rest of her assignments in order to finish them.
Reicheld sits in the desk closest to Ms. Herns desk. She is extremely quiet and timid.
She always gets right to work and will finish her assignments. She has a habit of asking Ms.
Hern a lot of questions, mainly for reassurance, during each assignment or activity.

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Nydia sits behind Reicheld. She is extremely talkative and has a hard time focusing. She
is always asking Mackenzie and I questions about college, explaining that her dream is to attend
FSU one day. She cares a lot about her grades she just has a hard time staying focused in class.

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Unit Rationale

The students in Ms. Herns classes are about to start a new unit out of the Florida
Collections (2014) textbook. The unit is called Approaching Adulthood and is centered on the
trials and tribulations of growing teens. I learned during a faculty meeting last week that Leon
County School District requires this unit be taught in full in every seventh and eighth grade
classroom within the same time period. Students are to read and discuss the text selections in this
unit, practicing several analytical skills along the way. Ms. Hern and I looked at some of the
targeted analytical skills in this unit have decided to focus on one specific skill for my series of
mini-lessons. Over the course of three mini-lessons I will be helping students learn how to
determine theme in a fictional story. Students have to complete several assignments throughout
this unit related to theme and it is important for students to establish basic knowledge of how to
determine theme on their own.
While determining theme may seem a bit juvenile for seventh and eighth grade students,
Ms. Hern finds that her students have significant difficulty with making inferences. To determine
theme, readers must collect textual evidence and make inferences about the messages conveyed
in that evidence. Determining theme is a little more challenging for Ms. Herns striving readers
than it is for students who read on seventh grade, eighth grade, or more advanced reading levels.
I am choosing to focus on the one of the skills we believed would pose the biggest challenge to
the students. I want students to take their time with this skill and really learn the process of
gathering textual evidence and making inferences. I also want them to practice this skill with a
couple different styles of text. This series of mini-lessons are designed to help students learn the
basics of determining theme, a skill they not only need to be successful in this unit but also in
their future endeavors.

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According to Peter Smagorinsky (2007), units should prepare students for the future, such
as college and social needs (p. 145). As mentioned before, these mini-lessons are aimed to
prepare students for success in the coming unit. Ideally by the end of these lessons, students will
be more prepared to analyze theme in the texts they explore within this unit. Not only will these
lessons prepare them for immediate success in this unit but also for success in future units in Ms.
Herns class, the new standardized FSA reading test in spring, and future grade levels.
Determining theme is a basic yet crucial skill that students will need in the rest of middle school,
high school, and college if they so choose to attend. The analytical thought required to determine
theme will be crucial to students success in any part of life. Making inferences is a part of daily
life and students need to be able to analyze and think critically about different texts they
encounter.
This series of mini-lessons also meets several of the new LA Florida Standards.
Smagorinsky (2007) also suggests that units be aligned with the state standards to justify lessons
as appropriate (p. 146). To determine theme students have to engage in several smaller analytical
skills, many of which are defined in the seventh and eighth grade standards. It is pertinent that
instruction be aligned with these standards to ensure students are acquiring the appropriate skills
for their grade level. Aligning lessons with these standards also ensures that instruction is
relevant to the state standardized test. Students will be engaging in different discussion settings,
which will meet some of the LA Florida Speaking and Listening Standards as well. Students will
not be engaged in too much independent writing since most of the writing instruction is done in
their actual language arts classroom. However, the writing portion of the pre-test and post-test
will also meet one of the seventh and eighth grade LA Florida Writing Standards.

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There will be five different pieces of text used between the pre-test, mini-lessons, and the
post-test. Two of the five texts will be poems straight from the Approaching Adulthood unit
and the other three will be reading passages from workbooks that have been designed by the state
to help students prepare for standardized testing. Ms. Hern uses these types of reading passages
frequently to give her students plenty of practice reading texts on seventh and eighth grade
levels. The two poems from the unit will have common coming of age themes. These themes
are relevant to the situations my students are facing at thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen years old.
One of the other texts is a short story called The Next Hit Record by Alicia Monroe (2006),
which is a story about moving away from home to follow ones dreams. This text also fits into
the unit of Approaching Adulthood because it explores the idea of moving away and
discovering a sense of identity. All three of these texts are relevant to my students current lives
and situations they have had to face, currently face, or will face in the near future. Choosing texts
like these that have characters and situations relevant to students will increase their interests in
those texts and in turn increase their learning (Smagorinsky, 2007, p. 145).
The last two texts are a little different than the other three because their themes do not
necessarily fit into the Approaching Adulthood mold. One text is a poem called Snow in the
Suburbs by Thomas Hardy (2014) and the other text is an excerpt from Henry David Thoreaus
A Winter Walk (2014). These two texts have similar themes, in which I will ask students to
compare and contrast. I want students to analyze how the same theme can be accomplished in
two different styles of text. I also want students to have practice working with different themes
other than just the coming of age themes. Analyzing the work of these major authors is also
significant because it familiarizes students with them and their work. Students will be seeing
more of these authors and studying their influences during their high school years.

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Objectives/Goals

Students will be able to define plot, conflict, characters, setting, symbols, and title.

Given a poem, students will be able to identify elements of plot, conflict, character,
setting, and symbols in the text.

Given a short story, students will be able to identify elements of plot, conflict, character,
setting, and symbols in the text.

Given an excerpt from a novel, students will be able to identify elements of plot, conflict,
character, setting, and symbols in the text.

Students will be able to identify the definition of a theme.

Students will be able to identify a theme in a fictional piece of text using the six elements
of a story (plot, conflict, characters, setting, symbols, and title) as textual evidence to
support their inference.

Students will be able work with group members to identify different elements of a
fictional story and explain how those elements relate to the overall theme.

Students will be able to verbally explain their reasoning, ideas, and claims to the rest of
the class.

Students will be able to draw comparisons between two different styles of text with the
same theme, drawing on functions of language.

Students will be able to analyze authors choice in developing a theme within a fictional
story.

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Standards

All standards were retrieved from the Florida Department of Education (2014).
Eighth Grade LA Florida Standards for Reading Literature
o Cluster One: Key Ideas and Details
o LAFS.8.RL.1.1: Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis
of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
o LAFS.8.RL.1.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its
development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the
characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
o LAFS.8.RL.1.3: Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story
or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
o Cluster Two: Craft and Structure
o LAFS.8.RL.2.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in
a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of
specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to
other texts.
o LAFS.8.RL.2.5: Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and
analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and
style.
Eighth Grade LA Florida Standards for Writing
o Cluster One: Text Types and Purposes
o LAFS.8.W.1.1: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant
evidence.

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LAFS.8.W.1.1(b): Support claim(s) using logical reasoning and relevant


evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an
understanding of the topic or text.

Eighth Grade LA Florida Standards on Speaking and Listening


o Cluster One: Comprehension and Collaboration
o LAFS.8.SL.1.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (oneon-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts,
and issues, building on others ideas and expressing their own clearly.

LAFS.8.SL.1.1(b): Follow rules for collegial discussion and decisionmaking, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define
individual roles as needed.

LAFS.8.SL.1.1(c): Pose questions that connect the ideas of several


speakers and respond to others questions and comments with relevant
evidence, observations, and ideas.

LAFS.8.SL.1.1(d): Acknowledge new information expressed by others,


and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the
evidence presented.

o Cluster Two: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas


o LAFS.8.SL.2.4: Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a
focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and
well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear
pronunciation.
Seventh Grade LA Standards for Reading Literature

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o Cluster One: Key Ideas and Details


o LAFS.7.RL.1.1: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of
what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
o LAFS.7.RL.1.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its
development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the
text.
o LAFS.7.RL.1.3: Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact
(e.g., how setting shapes characters or plot).
o Cluster Two: Craft and Structure
o LAFS.7.RL.2.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in
a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of
rhymes and other repetitions of sounds on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or
section of a story or drama.
o LAFS.7.RL.2.5: Analyze how a dramas or poems form or structure contributes
to its meaning.
Seventh Grade LA Florida Standards for Writing
o Cluster One: Text Types and Purposes
o LAFS.7.W.1.1: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant
evidence.

LAFS.7.W.1.1(b): Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant


evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an
understanding of the topic or text.

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LAFS.7.W.1.1(c): Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and


clarify the relationships among claim(s), reasons, and evidence.

Seventh Grade LA Florida Standards for Speaking and Listening


o Cluster One: Comprehension and Collaboration
o LAFS.7.SL.1.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussion (oneon-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts,
and issues, building on others ideas and expressing their own clearly.

LAFS.7.SL.1.1(b): Follow rules for collegial discussions, track progress


toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.

LAFS.7.SL.1.1(c): Pose questions that elicit elaboration and respond to


others questions and comments with relevant observations and ideas that
bring the discussion back on topic as needed.

LAFS.7.SL.1.1(d): Acknowledge new information expressed by others


and, when warranted, modify their own views.

o Cluster Two: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas


o LAFS.7.SL.2.4: Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a
focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples;
use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

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Pre-Test
Name: __________________________________________ Date: ______________________
Test Directions: You have 20 minutes to complete this test. Please answer the following questions to
the best of your abilities without any outside help or resources. When you finish, raise your hand and
I will collect your test. Sit quietly till the rest of the class finishes the test.
Multiple Choice. Circle the correct choice for each question.
1. What is the definition of a theme?
A. A short summary of the text.
B. Advice the author gives their reader.
C. A message about life or human nature.
D. A one-word phrase that describes the text.
2. Which of the following is an example of a theme that could be found in a fictional story?
A. Slow and steady wins the race.
B. You need to respect your elders.
C. Power.
D. Hard work results in success.
True/False. Circle T for true or F for false.
3. T

F
4. T F
5. T F

Themes are universal ideas.


The reader has to figure out the theme for themselves. It is not directly stated in the
story.
Readers only use a storys plot and conflict to determine the theme.

Read and Respond. Read the poem below and answer the questions in complete sentences.
Teenagers by Pat Mora
One day they disappear
into their rooms.
Doors and lips shut,
And we become strangers
in our own home.
I pace the hall, hear whispers,
a code I knew but cant remember,
mouthed by mouths I taught to speak.
Years later the door opens
I see faces I once held,
open as sunflowers in my hands. I see
familiar skin now stretched on long bodies
that move past me
glowing
almost like pearls.

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6. What is the title of this poem? __________________________________________________


7. What is the setting of this poem? ________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
8. What is the plot of this poem? __________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
9. Who are the characters in this poem? ____________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
10. What is the conflict of this poem? _______________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
11. What are the symbols in this poem? _____________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
12. Using the six elements you discussed above, what is the theme of this poem? Explain how
using these six elements helped you come to a conclusion about the theme. _________________
_____________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

23

Pre-Test Answer Key


1. C
The others are examples of what a theme is NOT.
2. D
A is a clich statement and not a theme.
B is a You-Statement, and themes should not be about You (the reader).
C is one word, which might be looked at as more of a motif than a theme.
3. True
Themes are universal ideas, which are ideas that can be applied to multiple situations and
multiple people from different places.
4. True
Themes are inferred based on context clues and other elements of the story. They are not
directly stated in the text.
5. False
Readers should not only use plot but should also use conflict, setting, characters,
symbols, and title to discover the theme of a literary text.
6. The title of the poem is, Teenagers.
7. The setting is in a home of a parent and a teenager.
8. The plot of the poem is as follows: Kid becomes teenager, the teenager distances
himself/herself from the parents, and then when the teenager has grown up they begin building a
relationship with his/her parents again.
9. The characters are a parent and a teenager.
10. The conflict is that the teenager has distanced him or herself and has grown apart from the
parent. The parent feels helpless that he/she is growing apart from their teenager.
11. Closed doors are symbols for closed lined of communication. Code is meant to be slang
and is another symbol for communication barriers between parents and teens. Sunflowers
opening is a symbol for their child blossoming into a young adult. Pearls are a symbol for the
end product, or adulthood, of the teenage years.
12. Potential theme statements for this poem:
Parents and teenagers struggle with communication.
Kids bloom after their teenage years.
Teenage years are difficult for parents.
Teenage years are just a phase of life.
Teenage years change kids.
Teenage years transform kids into adults.
Using the title, characters, plot, conflict, symbols, and setting of this poem allows us to
identify the most important parts of the poem so that we can infer the authors true
message about life/human nature.
Definitions of theme were retrieved from the following source:
Kamerman, R. (2011). Mini-lesson: Theme. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from
http://mrkamermanenglish9.weebly.com/uploads/3/8/6/9/38695419/theme_
powerpoint.pdf

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

24
First Mini-Lesson

Rationale/Purpose: This first lesson is designed to gauge students understanding of setting,


plot, conflict, characters, and symbols in a fictional story. We will be establishing the definition
of a theme and discuss the process of determining the theme. Students will be given a handout
that they we will fill out together as a class. They will be able to cut and paste this handout into
their daily journals (per Ms. Herns classroom procedures for handouts). Students will be able to
reference this handout as we move through the rest of the week. We will work through a poem
together as a class so students can see the skill modeled for them. This poem will be the same
one they saw on the pretest.
LA Florida Standards:
LAFS.8.RL.1.1: Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what
the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
LAFS.8.RL.1.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development
over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot;
provide an objective summary of the text.
LAFS.8.RL.1.3: Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama
propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
LAFS.8.RL.2.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text,
including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word
choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
LAFS.8.SL.1.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one,
in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues,
building on others ideas and expressing their own clearly.
o LAFS.8.SL.1.1(b): Follow rules for collegial discussion and decision-making,
track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as
needed.
o LAFS.8.SL.1.1(c): Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and
respond to others questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations,
and ideas.
o LAFS.8.SL.1.1(d): Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when
warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented.
LAFS.7.RL.1.1: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the
text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
LAFS.7.RL.1.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development
over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
LAFS.7.RL.1.3: Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how
setting shapes characters or plot).
LAFS.7.RL.2.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text,
including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other
repetitions of sounds on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or
drama.
LAFS.7.SL.1.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussion (one-on-one, in
groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues,
building on others ideas and expressing their own clearly.

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

25

o LAFS.7.SL.1.1(b): Follow rules for collegial discussions, track progress


toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.
o LAFS.7.SL.1.1(c): Pose questions that elicit elaboration and respond to
others questions and comments with relevant observations and ideas that
bring the discussion back on topic as needed.
o LAFS.7.SL.1.1(d): Acknowledge new information expressed by others and,
when warranted, modify their own views.
Objectives/Goals:
Students will be able to define plot, conflict, characters, setting, symbols, and title.
Given a poem, students will be able to identify elements of plot, conflict, character,
setting, symbols, and title in the text.
Students will be able to define the meaning of theme.
Students will be able to identify a theme in a fictional piece of text using the six elements
of a story (plot, conflict, characters, setting, symbols, and title) as textual evidence to
support their inference.
Students will be able to verbally explain their ideas, claims, and reasoning to the rest of
the class.
Materials:
Pen or pencil
Journals
Theme Handout
Florida Collections textbook
Anticipatory Set: I will give students the handout as they enter class and ask them to collect
both their textbook and their daily journal before they are seated. The handout will also be pulled
up on the SMART board already. Once the bell rings I will explain to students that were going
to work on determining theme for the week. I will ask students to give me their definition of a
theme. Once they I have a few definitions I will give them a definition (Beers, 2014, p. 225) to
record underneath their own. I will fill out the handout on the SMART board throughout the
discussion.
Teaching Strategy/ Procedure/ Activity:
Time Allowed:
3 Minutes
3 Minutes

5 Minutes

Students Will:
Anticipatory Set (See Above)
Give characteristics of what a
theme is and what a theme is
not. Fill in the handout
through the discussion.
Verbally identify the elements
of a story that are used to
determine a theme. Verbally
identify the definitions of

Teacher Will:
Anticipatory Set (See Above)
Call on students to provide
what a theme is and is not
(Kamerman, 2011). Guide
class discussion.
Call on students to provide
different elements of a story
and their definitions. Guide
class discussion. Keep the

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

10 Minutes

4-5 Minutes

26
those elements.
Open their textbooks to page
231 and read along in the short
poem Teenagers by Pat Mora
as the teacher reads it aloud.
As a class, discuss what the
setting, plot, title, conflict,
characters, and symbols of this
poem are and how they
contribute to the theme.
Closure (See Below)

discussion on topic.
Read the poem aloud for the
students. Ask students to
identify the six elements in the
poem and how they relate to
the overall theme. Ask
students to discuss what the
overall theme is. Will record
student answers on a blank
document on the SMART
board.
Closure (See Below)

Closure: Students will cut and paste the theme handout into their journals. Each class period is
about twenty-five to twenty-seven minutes long until students make their way to the computer
lab on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (the days I will be delivering these three lessons). If
we run out of time on Monday and do not have time to cut and paste the handout, I will collect
the handouts and return them to students the following class period to cut and paste into their
journals.
Assessment: Informal: I will observe students responses to gauge how much of an
understanding they have of theme and the six story elements. I will also observe how well
students are making inferences about the poem to gauge how well students can analyze a text.
Homework/Follow-Up Assignment: We will continue on with determining theme in the next
lesson on Wednesday.
Citations:
Beers, K., Hougen, M., Jago, C., McBride, W.L., Palmer, E., Stack, L. (2014). Collection 4:
Approaching adulthood. In Florida collections grade 8 (pp. 211-276). Orlando, FL:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
Great Valley School District. (2011). Mini lesson: Theme. [PDF document]. Retrieved from
http://www.gvsd.org/cms/lib02/pa01001045/centricity/domain/433/theme.pdf
Attachments:
Appendix A
o Theme Handout
Accommodations: No students have any specified accommodations. In general, this lesson is
flexible with the other three lessons. If an activity needs to be moved to a later date the lessons
are flexible enough to do so.

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

27
Second Mini-Lesson

Rationale/Purpose: Students will again be practicing how to determine theme in a fictional


story except this time they will be working with a short story instead of a poem. Students will be
reading the story individually and then working together in groups to define the six elements of
the story in order to determine the theme. Each row will make a group, making exactly six
groups of about 3-4 students each. Each group will be assigned one of the previously discussed
story elements: setting, plot, conflict, character, symbols, and conflict. Each group will have to
define their element in the story and then share with the class how that element helps them
determine the overall theme of the story. Each student will be given a handout to guide them
through their reading.
LA Florida Standards:
LAFS.8.RL.1.1: Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what
the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
LAFS.8.RL.1.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development
over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot;
provide an objective summary of the text.
LAFS.8.RL.1.3: Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama
propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
LAFS.8.RL.2.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text,
including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word
choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
LAFS.8.RL.2.5: Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze
how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.
LAFS.8.SL.1.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one,
in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues,
building on others ideas and expressing their own clearly.
o LAFS.8.SL.1.1(b): Follow rules for collegial discussion and decision-making,
track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as
needed.
o LAFS.8.SL.1.1(c): Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and
respond to others questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations,
and ideas.
o LAFS.8.SL.1.1(d): Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when
warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented.
LAFS.8.SL.2.4: Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused,
coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details;
use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
LAFS.7.RL.1.1: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the
text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
LAFS.7.RL.1.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development
over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
LAFS.7.RL.1.3: Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how
setting shapes characters or plot).

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

28

LAFS.7.RL.2.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text,
including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other
repetitions of sounds on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or
drama.
LAFS.7.SL.1.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussion (one-on-one, in
groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues,
building on others ideas and expressing their own clearly.
o LAFS.7.SL.1.1(b): Follow rules for collegial discussions, track progress toward
specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.
o LAFS.7.SL.1.1(c): Pose questions that elicit elaboration and respond to others
questions and comments with relevant observations and ideas that bring the
discussion back on topic as needed.
o LAFS.7.SL.1.1(d): Acknowledge new information expressed by others and, when
warranted, modify their own views.
LAFS.7.SL.2.4: Present claims and finding, emphasizing salient points in a focused,
coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate
eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

Objectives/Goals:
Given a short story, students will be able to identify elements of plot, conflict, character,
setting, symbols, and title in the text.
Students will be able to identify a theme in a fictional piece of text using the six elements
of a story (plot, conflict, characters, setting, symbols, and title) as textual evidence to
support their inference.
Students will be able work with group members to identify different elements of a
fictional story and explain how those elements relate to the overall theme.
Students will be able to verbally explain their ideas, claims, and reasoning to the rest of
the class.
Students will be able to analyze authors choice in developing a theme within a fictional
story.
Materials:
Pen or pencil
Read-Along Handout
Class set of the short story The Next Hit Record by Alicia Monroe
Anticipatory Set: I will hand students a copy of the short story and the handout as they enter the
room. Once the bell rings I will do a quick review of the previous lesson. I will ask for someone
to give me the definition of a theme. I will also ask for students to name the elements of a story
we use to determine the theme. I will tell students to silently read the short story I gave them as
they entered the room and then as they read take notes about the different elements they see
throughout the story. I will tell them that they have 10 minutes to complete the story.

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

29

Teaching Strategy/ Procedure/ Activity:


Time Allowed:
2 Minutes
10 Minutes

5 Minutes

6-8 Minutes

Students Will:
Anticipatory Set (see above)
Silently and individually read
the short story. Take notes on
the handout.
Get into their groups. Discuss
their assigned element in
relation to the theme of the
story. Refer to their notes.

Closure (See Below)

Teacher Will:
Anticipatory Set (see above)
Monitor the classroom to
make sure students are reading
and staying on task.
Divide each row up into a
group. Assign each row an
element to discuss. Ask them
to jot down some words or
phrases from the text that
describe the assigned element
and allude to the storys
theme.
Closure (See Below)

Closure: Students will be asked to share their words and phrases with the rest of the class. As
each group is talking the other students will be copying the information onto the handout. As a
class we will agree on a theme. We will discuss until it is time to go to the computer lab at which
point the students will turn in their Read-Along Handouts to me.
Assessment: Informal: I will observe students to see if they are grasping the concept of how to
understand theme. Formal: I will also review their Read-Along Handouts to check that they are
participating and to further check for understanding.
Homework/Follow-Up Assignment: We will continue on with determining theme in the next
lesson on Friday.
Citations:
Monroe, A. (2006). The next hit record. In Buckle Down Publishing, Buckle down Florida: 2nd
edition FCAT 7 reading. New York, NY: Triumph Learning.
Attachments:
Appendix B
o Copy of The Next Hit Record handout (Ms. Herns class set will be used during
the lesson plans)
o Read-Along Handout
Accommodations: No students have any specified accommodations. In general, this lesson is
flexible with the other three lessons. If an activity needs to be moved to a later date the lessons
are flexible enough to do so. If there are only one or two students sitting in a row due to seating
chart placements or absences, one to two students from other rows will be asked to join the
student(s) in the smaller row.

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

30
Third Mini-Lesson

Rationale/Purpose: Students will examine theme in a poem and in an excerpt, comparing and
contrasting the way both authors use the different elements to convey the same theme. Students
have been working with coming of age themes in the past two lessons, however, for this lesson
they will be examining a more abstract theme. Students will have to analyze the language in both
texts to draw inferences about the theme. One major focus of this lesson is to push students to
walk themselves through the process of determining theme.
LA Florida Standards:
LAFS.8.RL.1.1: Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what
the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
LAFS.8.RL.1.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development
over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot;
provide an objective summary of the text.
LAFS.8.RL.1.3: Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama
propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
LAFS.8.RL.2.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text,
including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word
choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
LAFS.8.RL.2.5: Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze
how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.
LAFS.8.SL.1.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one,
in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues,
building on others ideas and expressing their own clearly.
o LAFS.8.SL.1.1(b): Follow rules for collegial discussion and decision-making,
track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as
needed.
o LAFS.8.SL.1.1(c): Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and
respond to others questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations,
and ideas.
o LAFS.8.SL.1.1(d): Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when
warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented.
LAFS.7.RL.1.1: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the
text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
LAFS.7.RL.1.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development
over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
LAFS.7.RL.1.3: Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how
setting shapes characters or plot).
LAFS.7.RL.2.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text,
including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other
repetitions of sounds on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or
drama.
LAFS.7.RL.2.5: Analyze how a dramas or poems form or structure contributes to its
meaning.

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

31

LAFS.7.SL.1.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussion (one-on-one, in


groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues,
building on others ideas and expressing their own clearly.
o LAFS.7.SL.1.1(b): Follow rules for collegial discussions, track progress toward
specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.
o LAFS.7.SL.1.1(c): Pose questions that elicit elaboration and respond to others
questions and comments with relevant observations and ideas that bring the
discussion back on topic as needed.
o LAFS.7.SL.1.1(d): Acknowledge new information expressed by others and, when
warranted, modify their own views.

Objectives/Goals:
Given a poem, students will be able to identify elements of plot, conflict, character,
setting, symbols, and title in the text.
Given an excerpt from a novel, students will be able to identify elements of plot, conflict,
character, setting, symbols, and title in the text.
Students will be able to identify a theme in a fictional piece of text using the six elements
of a story (plot, conflict, characters, setting, symbols, and title) as textual evidence to
support their inference.
Students will be able to verbally explain their ideas, claims, and reasoning to the rest of
the class.
Students will be able to draw comparisons between the two different styles of text with
the same theme, drawing on functions of language.
Students will be able to analyze authors choice in developing a theme within a literary
text.
Materials:
Pen or pencil
Daily journals
Class set of the handout with Snow in the Suburbs by Thomas Hardy and the excerpt
A Winter Walk by Henry Thoreau.
Anticipatory Set: I will hand students the handout as they enter the classroom and tell them to
collect their daily journals before they sit down. Once the bell rings we will do a quick review. I
will ask someone to recap what we did on Monday and Wednesday and then explain that this
lesson will be our final lesson on determining theme. I will also tell students that they will be
given a post-test on Wednesday, similar to the pre-test they took on Wednesday of last week.
Teaching Strategy/ Procedure/ Activity:
Time Allowed:
2 Minutes
3 Minutes

Students Will:
Anticipatory Set (See Above)
Volunteer to read, Snow in
the Suburbs and A Winter
Walk aloud.

Teacher Will:
Anticipatory Set (See Above)
Ask students to volunteer to
read the two pieces of text.
Read the text aloud if no one
volunteers.

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

32
Engage in a class discussion
about the themes and the
language of the two texts.
Take notes in their journal.

10 Minutes

5-10 Minutes

Closure (See Below)

Ask students questions from


the Discussion Questions
Sheet. Guide students to
finding the theme of both
texts. Guide students to
making comparisons between
the two texts. Have a blank
document pulled up on the
SMART Board. Record
answers on the board.
Closure (See Below)

Closure: This block is flexible and can be used to continue conversation of the two texts if
needed. I will ask if anyone has any questions or concerns for the test on Wednesday. If there is
enough time we will do a short review. If students ask questions I may ask the rest of the class if
they can answer a question before I answer it. This will increase comprehension. This will also
be a time students can cut and paste the theme handout if they didnt already. As I am asking
questions to the class I will be passing out small slips of paper to everyone. Before students exit
to go to the computer lab I will ask them to write down at least three characteristics of theme that
we discussed on Monday. When students exit the classroom they will hand their slips to me.
Assessment: Informal: I will observe students answers during the discussion. I will check to see
how well they are analyzing the text, if they are using all of the elements we discussed to
determine theme, and if they can make appropriate comparisons between language in the two
texts. Formal: I will also be reviewing their exit slips to determine how well they remember the
information we discussed in the first lesson.
Homework/Follow-Up Assignment: Study for the post-test that will be given on Wednesday.
Citations:
Henry Thoreau. (2014). Snow in the suburbs. In COACH Florida coach, standards-based
instruction, 2.0 edition, reading, grade 8 (p. 114). New York, NY: Triumph Learning.
Thomas Hardy. (2014). A winter walk. In COACH, Florida coach, standards-based instruction,
2.0 edition, reading, grade 8 (p. 114). New York, NY: Triumph Learning.
Attachments:
Appendix C
o Copy of the reading handout
o Copy of the Discussion Questions Sheet
Accommodations: No students have any specified accommodations. In general, this lesson is
flexible with the other three lessons. If an activity needs to be moved to a later date the lessons
are flexible enough to do so. If activities need to be moved to a later date than the test can be
moved to Friday instead of Wednesday.

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

33

Post-Test
Name: __________________________________________ Date: ______________________
Test Directions: You have 20 minutes to complete this test. Please answer the following questions to
the best of your abilities without any outside help or resources. When you finish, raise your hand and
I will collect your test. Sit quietly till the rest of the class finishes the test.
Multiple Choice. Circle the correct choice for each answer.
1. Which of the following is not an example of a theme?
A. Knowledge is power.
B. You have to follow your heart.
C. Nature is both beautiful and destructive.
D. Fear can be crippling.
2. In a fictional story, the theme is _________________
A. directly stated in the title.
B. implied and must be inferred by the reader.
C. directly stated several times through out the story.
D. a question posed by the author in the beginning.
True/False. Circle T for true or F for False.
3. T
4. T
5. T

F
F
F

Themes are messages about life or human nature.


The setting of a story is not important to the theme of the story.
The phrase, Moving leads to unexpected journeys can be considered a universal
theme.

Read and Respond. Read the following poem and answer the questions in complete sentences.
Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde
I am fourteen
and my skin has betrayed me
the boy I cannot live without
still sucks his thumb
in secret
how come my knees are
always so ashy
what if I die
before morning
and mommas in the bedroom
with the door closed.
I have to learn how to dance
in time for the next party
my room is too small for me
suppose I die before graduation
they will sing sad melodies

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

34

but finally
tell the truth about me
There is nothing I want to do
and too much
that has to be done
and mommas in the bedroom
with the door closed.
Nobody even stops to think
about my side of it
I should have been on Math Team
my marks were better than his
why do I have to be
the one
wearing braces
I have nothing to wear tomorrow
will I live long enough
to grow up
and mommas in the bedroom
with the door closed.

6. What is the title of this poem? ___________________________________________________


7. What is the setting of this poem? ________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
8. What is the plot of this poem? __________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
9. Who are the characters in this poem? ____________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
10. What is the conflict in this poem? _______________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
11. What are the symbols in this poem? _____________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
12. Using the six elements you discussed above, what is the theme of this poem? Explain how
using these six elements helped you come to a conclusion about the theme. _________________
_____________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

35

Post-Test Answer Key


1. B, because it is a You-Statement.
A is a theme because it is universal.
C is a theme because it is universal and is also a message about life/human nature.
D is a theme because it is universal and is also a message about human nature.
2. B, because a reader has to use context clues and story elements to infer theme.
A is incorrect because a theme is never stated directly anywhere in the text.
C is incorrect for the same reason as A.
D is incorrect because themes are not questions asked by the author or by anyone else.
3. True
Themes are messages about life or human nature.
4. False
The setting of a story is one of the elements readers use to determine theme.
5. True
Moving can lead to unexpected journeys can apply to several different situations and
several different people. It is a message about human nature.
6. The title of the poem is, Hanging Fire.
7. The setting is in a home of a parent and a teenager.
8. The teenage boy is growing up and facing challenging times while his mother does not notice.
9. A teenage boy and his mother are the characters in this poem.
10. The teenage boy is facing the challenges of growing up and experiencing puberty,
meanwhile, his mother is not there to support him through these challenges.
11. Closed doors are symbols of closed lines of communication. Skin betrayal is a symbol
for acne, puberty, and a general dissatisfaction with appearance. Thumb sucking is a symbol
for the speakers lack in maturity. Fear of death is a symbol of the speakers fears for never
escaping this transitional phase. It also represents the speakers confusion and fear of what is
happening to his body.
12. Potential theme statements for this poem are:
Teenage years can be challenging and scary.
Teenagers need the guidance of their parents.
Parents and teenagers struggle with communication.
Parents play a pivotal role during teenage years.
Kids never stop needing their parents.
Using the title, characters, plot, conflict, symbols, and setting of this poem allows us to
identify the most important parts of the poem so that we can infer the authors true
message about life/human nature.
Definitions of theme were retrieved from the following source:
Kamerman, R. (2011). Mini-lesson: Theme. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from
http://mrkamermanenglish9.weebly.com/uploads/3/8/6/9/38695419/theme_
powerpoint.pdf

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36
Gains Chart

Table 1
Student Name
Pre-Test (Out of 24) Post-Test (Out of 24)
Gains
Jordyn
9
16
5+
Alyssia
16
16
0
Michiah
12
22
10+
Avionna
14
14
0
Tenagne
10
14
4+
Alaiya
15
20
5+
Cyrus
10
18
8+
Reicheld
4
13
9+
Tarves
8
13
5+
Nydia
12
15
3+
Adontre
10
18
8+
Heaven
11
14
3+
Shaniecia
10
11
1+
KeyAsja
8
14
6+
Sheltayviah
8
15
7+
Jalisa
12
20
8+
Xykiria
14
22
8+
Makenzie
12
20
8+
Table 1 shows the number of points each student received on the pre and post-test out of a total
of 24 points on each test. The final right column shows the gain each student made in his or her
raw score between the pre-test and the post-test.
Pre-Test Statistics:
Average: 10.94/24 (45.5%)
Median: 10.5
Mode: 10 and 12
Range: 12
Post-Test Statistics:
Average: 16.27/24 (67.7%)
Median: 15.5
Mode: 14
Range: 11
Gains:
Highest Gain: 10 Points
Lowest Gain: 1 Point
Number of Students Who Didnt Gain: 2
Number of Students Who Dropped: 0
Average Gain: 5.4 Points
Gain between Pre and Post-Test: 22.2%

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Analysis of Assessment Scores

There were sixteen students out of eighteen in the focus class that showed improvements
from the pre-test to the post-test, which calculates to roughly 89% of the class. Michiah had the
highest gain, going from a 12/24 (50%) on the pre-test to a 22/24 (91.6%) on the post-test.
Shaniecia had the lowest gain, only showing one point of improvement between the pre-test and
post-test. No students dropped in scores between the pre-test and post-test. See Table 1 above for
all student scores in the focus class.
The majority of students did not seem to have much of an issue with the multiple-choice
questions or the true/false questions on the pre and post-test. The multiple-choice and true/false
questions on the post-test were somewhat different than those on the pre-test, but similar enough
to assess the same level of knowledge. Most students missed points in the short response section
on both tests, however, there was a significant improvement in responses from the pre-test to the
post-test. The majority of students left several of the short response questions blank on the pretest but every student attempted every short response question on the post-test. I had to take off
several points on the pre-test because many students either did not attempt the questions at all or
wrote completely wrong answers. On the post-test I was able to give more full and partial credit
to students for completing all or part of the questions correctly. I noticed that students still
struggled immensely with identifying symbols in the poem on the post-test just as they had on
the pre-test. But for the most part, they were able to identify parts or all of the other narrative
elements discussed in the lessons.
There were no students in the focus class that were able to define the theme of the poem
on the pre-test. On the post-test, twelve students were able to identify an appropriate theme for
the given poem. I was blown away by the improvements students made in defining the theme in

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38

a given fictional text. For example, on the pre-test Alaiya wrote, I dont know, I think the theme
is growing up, and then on the post-test she wrote, The theme is communication between
teens and parents is key. I used the narrative elements to help me break down the story into
smaller parts to help me understand the authors message. As another example, Cyrus wrote,
The theme is children growing up to be young adults. The elements didnt help me, on the pretest and then wrote, The theme is sometimes life is difficult to grow up in and teens need the
support of their parents. They [the narrative elements] help me determine the theme because they
help me look at what the poem is about, on his post-test. Overall, I was impressed with the
progress students made after the three lessons I gave on theme.

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39
Interpretative Essay

The results from the pre-test made it clear that students from the focus class would need
extensive and explicit instruction on theme. Originally, lessons were planned in a way that began
with explicit instruction and ended with application and critical thinking. However, the pre-test
determined that students would need extra time and support to determine theme before moving
on to more complex activities.
The graphic organizer in the first lesson was a strong and useful aid for students. It
provided students with the concrete and explicit instruction they needed. In the first lesson,
students were able to successfully determine the narrative elements and the theme of the poem
they first looked at on the pre-test. Students seemed to have no issues defining the elements or
the theme whereas they struggled immensely with it on the pre-test. I think having the graphic
organizer in front of them really aided students in breaking down the poem and interpreting the
theme.
I made modifications to lessons two and three. Students struggled during the review in
lesson two and also took longer to read the short story than anticipated. So instead of doing
group work I used extra time to discuss the short story bit by bit as a class. I wanted to make sure
all students were moving at the same pace and had an opportunity to ask questions. I could tell
they were not ready for independent group work. I believe the class discussion was more
beneficial to students than working in groups, especially since I could see how they were truly
struggling to find the theme of the short story during the class discussion.
In lesson three, students were supposed to discuss and compare the language of a poem
and of an excerpt to determine how each text developed a similar theme in a different way. But I
knew from the last lesson that students were not ready to take on this complex activity. So

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instead, I had students read the poem and excerpt out loud and then I divided them up into six
groups. Three groups on one side of the room discussed the poem and three groups on the other
side of the room discussed the excerpt. Finally, we discussed the narrative elements and theme of
each piece of text as a class. The modifications for this lesson worked well and students seemed
to finally be able to identify narrative elements and theme with a little more ease.
I think the modifications worked well for students needs and could possibly be the
reason why they gained so much from the lessons. Had I not given students time and support to
explicitly discuss the narrative elements and the theme of several different pieces of text, I
believe they would have fallen behind very quickly. I think the repetition of discussing theme
and the process of finding theme gave students the practice they needed to independently
interpret theme.
Reflecting back, there would be a few changes I would make to help students gain even
more from my lessons. For one, I would make sure students have the graphic organizers from
lesson one for each and every lesson. This was originally supposed to happen but students ended
up sticking the graphic organizers in one of their binders instead of gluing it into their notebook.
For the most part all students came to class for the following lessons without them. I should have
considered collecting them and handing them back at the beginning of each lesson.
For two, I think I would break up the instruction on narrative elements and the instruction
on theme more throughout the lessons. I think students could have gained even more had the
instruction been slower and more explicit. Perhaps dedicating the first lesson to solely defining
the narrative elements and looking through several smaller pieces of text for these elements
would have benefited students more. The second lesson would then be all about theme, including
the definition and how narrative elements can be used to determine theme. The third lesson

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41

would be using the first two lessons together to engage in a class discussion about determining a
theme in a selected text. After reflection, I think too much might have been going on in each
lesson for students to fully learn about the six narrative elements and fully learn about theme.
As a final adjustment, I might consider a longer series of lessons to teach theme. I did not
fully realize how challenging this particular topic would be to struggling readers. I think learning
theme in three short lessons was a lot for the students in my focus class to handle and I should
have thought about smaller and simpler activities to teach the topic if I was going to teach it in
the three-lesson time period. I should have also considered working with a smaller part of theme,
perhaps in terms of a single genre instead of trying to tackle theme in three different genres. If I
had either worked with students longer or taught a smaller part of theme then students might
have made significantly higher gains between the pre-test and post-test.

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Appendices

Appendix A

Name:

Period:

THEME
What is your definition of a theme?

A Theme is

A Theme is NOT

Which elements of a story can be used to determine a theme?


THEME

Description

Description

Description

Description

Description

Description

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE

Appendix B

43

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44
Read-Along Handout

Name: __________________________________________________Date: _______________


Directions: Read, The Next Hit Record by Alicia Monroe. As you read, write down words and
phrases from the text that describes the elements below and that can be used to determine the
theme of the story. Once youve read and reviewed your reading notes, answer the question at
the end.
Title:

Setting:

Plot:

Characters:

Conflict:

Symbols:

What is the theme of this story?

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE


Appendix C

45

TEACHER WORK SAMPLE


The Teachers Discussion Questions Sheet
1. Do you think these texts have similar or different themes? Why? Give me an example.
2. Do you find one text easier to understand than the other? Why?
3. If I told you to determine the theme of these texts, where would you start? Which one would
you start with?
4. What would you look for in each text to determine the theme?
5. What words help us define those elements?
6. Using the words and phrases for each text, what do you think the common theme is? Lets
come up with some theme phrases to use.
7. Do you think one text does a better job at establishing this theme? Why or why not?

46

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47

References
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Approaching adulthood. In Florida collections grade 8 (pp. 211-276). Orlando, FL:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
Fairview Middle School. (2014). Home page. Retrieved from
http://www.fairview.leon.k12.fl.us/
Fairview Middle School. (2014). IB prep magnet. Retrieved from
http://www.fairview.leon.k12.fl.us/magnet.html
Florida Department of Education. (2014). Fairview Middle School: No child left behind school
public accountability reports. Retrieved from
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Florida Department of Education. (2014). LAFS: Language arts Florida standards. [PDF
document]. Retrieved from http://www.fldoe.org/pdf/lafs.pdf
Great Valley School District. (2011). Mini lesson: Theme. [PDF document]. Retrieved from
http://www.gvsd.org/cms/lib02/pa01001045/centricity/domain/433/theme.pdf
Hansen, Scott. (2014, January 15). Executive summary: Fairview Middle School, Leon County
School District. Retrieved from
http://www.advanc-ed.org/oasis2/u/par/accreditation/summary/pdf;jsessionid
=3BC9CE49BAFAB8631941B08285AF6CF8?institutionId=36383
Hardy, T. (2014). A winter walk. In COACH, Florida coach, standards-based instruction,
2.0 edition, reading, grade 8 (p. 114). New York, NY: Triumph Learning.

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Kamerman, R. (2011). Mini-lesson: Theme. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from


http://mrkamermanenglish9.weebly.com/uploads/3/8/6/9/38695419/theme_
powerpoint.pdf
Leon County School District. (2014). Leon County Schools: Superintendent Jackie Pons.
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Monroe, A. (2006). The next hit record. In Buckle Down Publishing, Buckle down Florida: 2nd
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Thoreau, H. (2014). Snow in the suburbs. In COACH Florida coach, standards-based
instruction, 2.0 edition, reading, grade 8 (p. 114). New York, NY: Triumph Learning.
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Bureau. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/12/12073.html
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Census Bureau. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/12/1270600.html