TOPIC: PLOT AND THEME Discipline Language Arts, History Grade Level 6-12 Type of Activity Small Group, Entire Class, Pre-Reading, Writing, Performing Arts Objectives Students will understand the difference between plot and theme, two literary elements that are easily confused. Students will demonstrate the difference between plot and theme through short, written skits. Overview Plot and theme are often easily confused. This activity should clear up any confusion. Materials Needed/Preparation Before reading Of Mice and Men, teachers should read to the class (at any age—it is fun!) the Aesop fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare” (http://www.kidsnewsroom.org/elmer/infocentral/stories/grimm/hare.and.tortoise. txt) Copies of Of Mice and Men Students’ notebooks. Estimated Time 1 class period for preparation, and one for presentations by students. Procedures: Discuss the difference between plot and theme. Quite simply, plot is what happens in a story—essentially the action. Theme is what the story is about—its message or moral. In “The Tortoise and the Hare”: o The plot is about how the hare (rabbit) makes fun of the slow turtle. The turtle challenges the faster hare to a race. The hare gets off to a fast start. Thinking he can easily win, the hare stops running and decides to take a nap before finishing the race. The hare sleeps so long, and the slow turtle eventually wins the race. o The theme is what the story is about. In this case, the message could be “slow and steady wins the race,” “determination,” and “underestimating your opponent.” What are some of the themes in Of Mice and Men? Some suggestions: o Friendship o Loyalty o Weak vs. Strong o Disabilities o Jealousy o Ignorance o Wisdom o Sacrifice o Disappointment o Racism o Frustration After discussion, students can create and act out a brief skit, illustrating plot and theme (from their own original work). Students then can ask the audience to identify each element shown in the skit. Standards Met Reading Standards for Literature 6-12 o Key Ideas and Details: 1,2,3 o Craft and Structure: 4,5,6 o Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 9 o Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10 Writing Standards 6-12 o Text Types and Purposes: 3 o Production and Distribution of Writing: 4,5 o Research to Build and Present Knowledge: 9 Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12 o Comprehension and Collaboration: 1 Language Standards 6-12 o Conventions of Standard English: 1,2 o Knowledge of Language: 3 o Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: 4,5,6 Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12 o Key Ideas and Details: 2 o Craft and Structure: 4,5 Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6-12 o Production and Distribution of Writing: 4,5 Post Activity/Takeaways/Follow-up Takeaways o Students should be able to identify plot and theme, not only through other students’ writing, but through a skit. o Students can write their reactions to the students’ performances (following objectives) and give feedback to each group. Follow-up o Teachers can have students write an evaluation of the project and what they have learned. Assessment During the reading of the novel, teachers can provide regular quizzes on plot/theme, as well as have students perform skits in small groups.