March Unit: Symbols, Motifs, and Themes
A reading unit for moving toward abstraction
Friends, I will be taking a week off for Spring Break next week (March 6-10), but you can expect to see me back in your feed on March 18 with a new Q&A! In the meantime, light up our monthly chat with all the things that are on your mind!)
Students already think symbolically, they just don’t realize it. To be honest, their worlds are mostly symbolic. The ability to recognize symbols and symbolic patterns (motifs) leads students from the simplicity of what is written onto the page and into the world of real meaning-making.
This is where this English stuff gets good.
It’s also where this English stuff loses a lot of students. This is where it can begin to feel magical and like some kids just “get it” while others do not. This kind of abstraction and interpretation often draws the line between “regular” English and “honors” English.
So, I like to spend time digging in here and slowly building capacity of interpreting symbols and motifs and then, ultimately, using them to articulate themes of a text. If a student can leave my class being able to articulate a nuanced main idea / theme, I feel like I have done my job and they will be very ready for their next English class.
This month, my eighth graders dove into this world of meaning-making by watching Pixar short films, reading Persepolis, and engaging in protocols to help them move past simply identifying symbolism and into interpreting its significance.
(Of course, this unit could work with any text. Substitute your texts here and follow the same unit outline / lesson plans to achieve roughly similar results!)
The Unit Plan
Download the unit plan below!