Finding Symbolism


Focus Lesson Planning Sheet

Focus Lesson


Finding symbols in fiction (part of synthesizing unit, or could be a lesson within an inferring unit)


A short book to use during the focus lesson. It needs to have an identifiable symbol (one possible title might be

Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting.)

Independent reading bag with 3-5 titles, including several fiction books.




Possible Anchor Chart:

Definition of symbolism

Recently we have been working on one important kind of thinking that good readers do, called synthesizing. When readers synthesize they notice how their thinking changes, grows and develops as they read. We watched how we added to and grew our thinking as we read along through a book together. Today, we are going to go even farther with our thinking.

One important thing readers do when they watch their thoughts develop is that they notice when something keeps on coming up in the story and that as it comes up, it seems to have some ideas that come along with it. As we notice something repeatedly coming up, we track our thoughts connected to this thing and how this thing helps us grow our ideas.

Watch me as I find something in this story that comes up from time to time, but really has some larger, more important ideas tied to it.

Read the story, pausing and discussing when you reach the element/item which is the symbol for larger ideas within the text.

Chart your thinking that is tied to this symbol as you progress.

Toward the end, stop and use the following description of how your thoughts are synthesizing around this symbol.

When you find something in the story that the author keeps bringing up, like the _____ in this story, we call that a symbol. You should remember from reading a map that a symbol stands for something on the map. With a map, there is a legend or key that explains what the symbol means on the map. A symbol in a story stands for or represents something too, a big idea or theme in the story. But in reading, you have to figure out what it means through your own thinking. A symbol is a thing in the story that seems simple



Send Off [for



Group Share

at first, but really has bigger ideas tied to and connected to it. As that thing comes up again and again in the story, the new thoughts you have are synthesized as your thinking grows and develops. Your thinking keeps getting bigger and bigger and your understanding keeps getting deeper and deeper as you think about what is happening with this symbol. Noticing how your thinking grows around this symbol helps you understand the big ideas of the story that the author wants you to think about. Symbolism is a powerful way authors communicate their ideas with readers and readers synthesize their thoughts around a symbol to understand a story deeply.

Finish the story if you haven’t already and continue to discuss the meaning of the symbol you have identified.

During Independent Reading today, think as you are reading about what symbols the author may have included in your story. Notice if there is something that keeps coming up and that may stand for some larger ideas that the author wants you to think about. Watch how your thinking changes and grows around this symbol.

Does anyone have a symbol in their story that they would like to talk about?