Short Stories
“What’s the big idea?”
Grade Level:
7th Grade
Lesson Summary:
This second lesson in a unit on short stories is meant to introduce students the the process of reading a story critically to get an idea of theme, or central idea. Using All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury, students will explore the idea of identifying and developing original themes. This knowledge will be put into practice by the students’ group themed comic assignment.
Lesson Focus:
Theme, Central Idea
Core Standards:
7.2 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.
Learning Objectives:
Students will be able to identify a theme, or main message, in a short story by citing specific occurrences in All Summer in a Day.
Students will draft their own comic strip or story, based on a provided theme, which demonstrates their understanding of theme.
Prior to Class:
Handouts should be pre-set, so that they are accessible for the lesson. Also, three Post-Its will be stuck to each copy of the story. Lesson Supplement 1 should be set on the document camera. “What is a Theme?” should be written on the board. Underneath it, it should say, “Have you read any interesting stories lately? What do you think the theme was? Tell me why.” As students walk into class, the teacher will hand out the day’s learning log worksheet and welcome students to class.
Students will work on their Bell Work. For Bell Work, the students will define what a theme is. The teacher will prompt students by asking them to think of books they have written. As they write, students will listen to announcements.
10 Min
As students prepare for Zone reading, the teacher will suggest they think about the books they are reading and what their theme is. Students will then spend time reading individually.
10 Min
The teacher will open a discussion to create a class definition of what a theme is by using the following questions to facilitate conversation:
· So what is a theme?
· What did you write during your bell work?
· Did you come up with any examples?
· What was the theme of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?
Ultimately, the teacher will use what the students have said to define theme, writing the definition on the board.
3-5 Min
All Summer in a Day:
The teacher will continue on to the short story All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury by saying, “Let’s get some practice with finding theme or central idea. As I read All Summer in a Day to you, please use these Post-It flags to mark examples from the story.” The teacher will hand out copies of the short story with three flags stuck to each copy. The teacher will direct the students by saying, “Look for examples of how loneliness makes Margot miserable. When you see something that describes loneliness, put a flag by it.” The teacher will write Loneliness is Miserable on the board and circle it. The teacher will then read the short story to the students, stopping at: “They edged away from her; they would not look at her.” The teacher will ask students how this relates is the theme on the board and then write Other Students Stay Away in another circle and draw a line to the central theme.
15 Min
Theme Web:
After finishing the story, the teacher will ask students what things they flagged in the story that reminded them of loneliness. As they mention parts in the story, the teacher will add them to the Theme Web on the board. The teacher will then differentiate between a topic and a theme by identifying a verb.
5 Min
Verb Minilesson:
The teacher will circle the is in Loneliness is Miserable and ask what kind of verb it is. Then, the teacher will prompt students to think of the three kinds of verbs. As they come up with them, the teacher will summarize them on the board in a flow chart graphic organizer. The teacher will then ask students to look at three sentences from the story and identify which kind of verb is used in each.
5 Min
Themed Comic Strip:
Students will get into groups based on the color of their Post-Its. There should be 4-5 students in a group. Each color group will choose a theme. One of the following:
· Friends help each other.
· Bullying hurts everyone involved.
· Change can be scary.
· Getting older can be tough.
· Life’s easier with a good attitude.
· It’s okay to be different.

Option A
The groups will be asked to create a short comic strip to tell a story demonstrating their theme. The teacher will post the assignment outline on the document camera (See Lesson Plan Supplement 1) and pass out their planning sheets (See Lesson Plan Supplement 2 &3). The teacher will describe the assignment, using the assignment sheet. They should spend the class time planning out their story. The teacher will circulate and help students plan out their stories as they work, encouraging students to use active verbs in the captions. Then, each student will be responsible for two frames.
Option B
Another option that students have is to create a “chapter” book by writing a paragraph for their part of the assignment, as in the comic strip activity. Their paragraph will have to be fully developed, using their paragraph structuring guides. The teacher will drop in on groups that choose this option to encourage the use of active verbs.

As students work, the teacher will ask them to identify the verbs they use by underlining them in their final products. These will be assigned as homework to finish and be compiled at the beginning of the next class.
20-30 Min
Themed Comic Strip
This assessment prepares students in two ways. They were generate a story based on a central theme, as is desired in their final assessment. Also, they will have to consider other story elements such as plot and character to create the comic strip. This will be great practice for when they create their stories. Working in groups allows students to assist each other in creating something creative.
Themed Chapter Book (Alternate)
This is offered as an alternative to the comic strip assignment for groups that would rather write their story. It develops the same story structure practice as the comic strip without requiring an artistic approach.
24 Student Copies of All Summer in a Day
2 Teacher Copies of All Summer in a Day
Themed Comic Strip Assignment Sheet
24 Comic Planning/Frame Sheets
Theme Web Plan
Paragraph Planner
Other Materials:
Dry Erase Marker
Post-It Flags
Document Camera