Question Like a 4 year Old -

Question Like a 4 year Old Credit to Jori Krulder What is theme? What is the definition you know? What are some examples you can think of? Give the story and the theme.

What is theme? Often, when students give examples of themes, they say one word or a short phrase. OR, they offer morals and directivesmessages that tell the reader how to live, behave, or think. For example, in the Garden Party, students might say that the storys theme is class difference or you should face your fears

We need to go deeper Beginning AP Literature students often struggle to go beyond the surface in their analysis. Their essays mostly stay in safe territory, rarely venturing beyond paraphrase and, when they dealt with theme at all, tentative stabs at topic: Frankensteins monster shows the effect of society on personality. or Kafkas Metamorphosis is about the meaninglessness of life. These ideas are not necessarily WRONG, but because they are so

surface level, they never really dug into deeper, more focused meanings in the texts Themes vs Thematic Topics These short ideas are actually what I call thematic topics. theyre a starting point for theme, but theyre underdeveloped. Themes are what this particular story is saying ABOUT that topic, through their characters, style, and other elements. For example, both The Garden Party and The Hunger Games

are about class, but they each say very different things about it. Example thematic topics vs. themes For the Garden Party, thematic topics could include: Class difference Transition to adulthood Sexuality Facing your mortality

Garden Party Themes In Fosters analysis, he pulled out the following themes based on those thematic topics. To him, the story suggests: The transition to adulthood depends on our understanding of our sexuality and of our mortality. It is only through facing human mortality that we can transition into adulthood, and find our own individuality. This is what Foster and his student argue the story means.

One uses birds, and the other the story of Persephone, as a vehicle to make that argument. Where are you goingthematic topics On the handout, fill out the left column with as many thematic topics as you can for this story. What are some of the issues or topics it brings up?

Then, we will work to elaborate on those topics. This exercise Is designed to help students develop your ideas beyond the generic. It focuses on thesis statements, because AP readers have noted that an insightful, focused thesis quite often leads to an insightful, focused, well-developed essay.

Structure Students take 5-7 minutes to write a thesis statement from a prompt. If they have time after writing their thesis statement, they can do a quick outline of possible supporting evidence or topic sentences for how they will support their essay. (or, we use existing thesis statements) Students pair up with their essays and take turns questioning each others thesis statement, discussing the answers and progressively digging for complexity and focusing the ideas in the thesis.

We go around the classroom and share our original and revised thesis statements, noticing what has changed and, time allowing, asking additional questions to hone them even further. When Paired Up This is called the 4 year old questioning technique because it involves an incessant, annoying, seemingly endless string of questions. When paired up, you will become the 4 year old and

ask that string of questions. Example (from Ms. Krulder) Thesis Writer (TW): Original thesis: Frankensteins monster shows the effect of society on personality. Questioner (Q): How did society affect Frankensteins monsters personality? TW: It made him angry and murderous. Q: How did it make him angry and murderous? TW: It treated him badly and made him want to treat others badly. Q: Why did it treat him badly?

TW: Because he was ugly. Q: Why did they treat him badly because he was ugly? TW: Because society tends to reject things and people who are different and they dont understand. Q: Why did that make him angry and murderous? TW: Because we learn how to treat people by how we are treated. 20 or more questions later possible Revised Thesis: The development of Frankensteins monster into a murderous, angry creature shows how societys tendency to reject what it does not understand can ironically lead to creating the very monsters we fear.

Practice: Original thematic topic: In the short story, Arnold Friend is the devil. What questions can we ask?

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