Thursday, March 26, 2015

Theme: Boards, Organizers & Anchor Charts

My favorite types of bulletin boards are the ones that stay up all year, but remain interactive with students' thoughts, progress, and reflection ALL YEAR!
These types of bulletin boards serve not only as classroom décor, but a visual tool to reference daily.
Let's talk about THEME-one of my favorite topics to provoke student discussion, but also a difficult concept for kids to understand sometimes.
Theme is an important skill that most standards cover, whether you follow the common core standards or state standards. It's important for students to read a story and find the "secret message" from the author. Very rarely are themes explicitly stated, but must be inferred. I tell my students the author would be disappointed if we didn't figure out what he/she was trying to convey in their story, so we have to use our mad inferencing skills to determine the theme! 
To ensure I'm always COVERING & DISCUSSING theme, we keep track of all the books we read on our Theme Boards. I first read about theme boards in Strategies That Work and then later from Beth Newingham. I've been using these boards for about twelve years and would NEVER not have them as a part of my classroom.
Let me tell you all the benefits of Theme Boards:
  • The visual of all the books read throughout the year makes you and your students proud!
  • Students can make connections to books and themes all year.
  • Thinking of theme while reading all books becomes automatic for students.
  • Promotes GREAT discussion between students and offers opportunities for debates and proving their thinking by finding evidence in the text.
  • Can be incorporated easily into every lesson and every literature book (weekly story, chapter book, mentor text).
  • You can use less than 5 minutes to discuss the theme of a new book or have students use an organizer and construct a written response that could take 30 minutes...either way, it always fits in my schedule!

This is actually a "theme" for our classroom. I found the quote on a fashion blog and have used it as our class motto for the past few years. Nobody should ever let anyone dull their sparkle!

(The lighting wasn't very good in my classroom-it kept bounces off of the lamination).
As you can see from our theme boards this year, we've read over 60 books! See? Proud teacher! It's also impressive to visitors of our classroom! My students are constantly referring to our past readings and reference them in current discussions and written responses.
Many people ask me about the vibrant colors on my posters and if I use a lot of ink...the answer is no. I print very little at home, especially color. There are places everywhere (my favorite is Office Depot) that make color copies for $0.29-$0.39 each and they usually have laser printers which makes the color so bright and crisp. (Plus, I like a lot of black backgrounds so it would eat up all my ink.) After I laminate them I will use them for years, so it's worth it to me.
There's a little time involved when you first make pictures of all your books, but again, after you laminate them, you'll have them forever! Now, I'm very fortunate and have a huge classroom library, so I made most of them during a summer break and now I just add them as needed. I keep them alphabetized in one of those accordion style organizers. My students all ask to get the picture after we read a new book...instant classroom job!! LOL!

I look up the title of the book online, click images, save the picture, then insert the picture in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or any program you use to insert pictures, and size accordingly.

 I also made several organizers to help my students practice writing about theme and justifying their ideas. (We can never get enough practice!) There are so many opportunities to teach theme and incorporate it easily into our lessons, and this is one of my FAVORITES! Because we practice and discuss theme almost on a daily basis, my students are pretty good at identifying the theme and justifying their thinking.
I'm so excited to share a new product with you! :)

DEAL OF THE DAY!! If you purchase my new Theme Pack on TPT and leave feedback, you will receive my companion product Theme Posters (Student Created) FREE! This offer will be good until Sunday, 3/29. Just email me your TPT user name after you leave feedback and I'll send you the freebie!

I'd love to hear what you think and any ideas you want to share about theme! 


  1. What a wonderful bulletin board display! It matches my classroom perfectly! Can't wait to use it! :)

  2. great article, thank you for sharing, I think I need it
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  3. I love this post. It caught my eye because my class is reading novels with the theme of perseverance, facing your fear and overcoming struggles. We are halfway through our third novel and I really should start a board to keep track. I like the idea of showing the kids how much they've read. Thanks so much for sharing. :)
    Adrie @ Brain Ninjas Ninja Notes

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  8. What size do you use for the pictures of the book covers?

  9. You have done a great job on this article. It’s very readable and highly intelligent. You have even managed to make it understandable and easy to read. You have some real writing talent. Thank you
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  10. I purchased your theme bundle along with your Character Traits and Figuarative Language Bundles. There are up on my walls where the students continually refer to them throughout the week when reading their books. I love it because it is not a one-and-done lesson but on going lessons that can and will be used throughout the entire year cementing and deepening their understanding of theme, character traits and figurative language. Just this past week, my students were discussing the theme of a book we just read. The conversation was very interesting as they were discovering that a book can have more than one theme. Taking opportunity of this teaching moment, I challenged them further, asking them to catergorize the theme from the most powerful theme to the least. Their minds were working. Rich conversation followed. Critical thinking in action!


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