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Teaching ELA with Joy
Middle School ELA Resources
5 BEST Videos for Teaching Theme
By Joy Sexton 4 Comments
If there’s one literary element that baffles students, it’s theme. But why should teaching theme be difficult? It’s just the message, right? But then again, theme is also referred to as the central idea of the text (thanks, Common Core). And, of course, theme itself must not be confused with theme “topics.” Well, it’s YouTube to the rescue with these 5 videos for teaching theme that will help students better understand it all!
How I Chose the Videos
As I previewed the many YouTube offerings on teaching theme, I selected these 5 videos because
- the sound and graphics were clear and engaging
- the content was accurate and suitable for middle school
- the videos pointed out the difference between theme “topics” and theme
- the videos were all brief, but covered a good range of timings
5 Best Videos for Teaching Theme
1. This short video presents theme basics in a clear and succinct PowToon creation. Lauren Hendricks gives students a 4-step process for generating theme topics and creating a theme statement. She uses the Disney movie Frozen for her examples (though she doesn’t include film clips). This video would be perfect for an introductory lesson or a quick review when students get fuzzy on theme!
2. Here’s one from Brain Pop, a wonderful educational site that posts a limited amount of content for free. Lucky for us, their video for teaching theme is available, and it’s both entertaining and highly informative. The examples here are all Star Wars characters and references. The narrator explains where to look for themes and even weaves in the definitions of story elements (plot, setting, characterization, etc.).
3. Want a video for teaching theme that will grab your students’ attention? The energetic and funny teacher-narrator is spot on as he relates theme to films. He describes ways to find themes using short film clips from Ironman , The Incredibles , The Terminator , and Man of Steel . Students will be riveted!
4. This video from Julie Jaeger is cute, short, and clear. Two animated students discuss key elements of identifying themes. Easy-to-follow speech bubbles display the narrative. The students in the video use Finding Nemo for their discussion. At 4:05, it’s a perfect scaffold for your theme lesson.
5. For the 5th video , here’s one that uses music. Students can participate when you pause after each song segment. (Most are very easy.) You could pair up students, have them write theme statements, and share out at the end.
Well, there they are . . . the 5 best videos for teaching theme , based on my search of what’s out there on the Tube. I hope I’ve saved you the time of looking!
You might like teaching with my step-by-step Theme Essay for Any Novel, Story, or Drama . It’s available in print or digital! You can click the images below for a closer look.
If you’d like to see my 5 best videos for teaching figurative language, click here: The 5 Best Videos for Teaching Figurative Language
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November 3, 2020 at 1:27 am
These are great tools! I always struggle with teaching theme to my students in 8th grade. I feel that they never can connect to what I am having them read in order to identify theme. I think with these resources, it will be a much easier concept for them to understand.
February 7, 2021 at 11:04 pm
Thanks, Joy, for sharing these videos for teaching themes in my ELA classes. I wish you many blessings as you continue to share your ELA wisdom on your teachingelawithjoy.com website. Much appreciation!
October 12, 2021 at 3:26 pm
This is so helpful! I have been using the same tired theme videos for years, and you made it so easy to liven up my lesson! Many thanks.
April 17, 2023 at 5:16 am
This is an amazing resource! I will be student teaching in the fall, and one of my units will focus on theme. I’m excited to use some of these videos!
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3rd grade reading & vocabulary
Course: 3rd grade reading & vocabulary > unit 3.
- Summarizing stories | Reading
Understanding theme | Reading
- Characters' thoughts and feelings | Reading
- A story's point of view | Reading
- Reading (and comparing) multiple books | Reading
- Extreme Environments: reading realistic fiction; The Adventures of Fisher 3
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