Check out this gem from Diane Huseman's class. Common literary themes are posted on the wall. After a read aloud is finished, students discuss in small groups which theme best describes the text.
The group comes to a consensus, writes out their declaration, and then--here comes the meaty part--they justify their thinking using evidence from the text. Each group shares out and a class determination is set; a miniature copy of the cover is posted under the categorical theme.
(Check out the Comp & Flu pages 232-234 about keeping a class record of read alouds, too!)
Citing evidence from a text is a big deal in Common Core and in Constructed Response Testing. I introduced some third graders to this idea a few weeks back as they were learning about genres. Students read an excerpt from "Tops and Bottoms", and then wrote a formulaic response to it. One student wrote:
"Tops and Bottoms" is a fantasy text. Fantasy storys include elements that are impossible. For example, the athr rote "I'm hungry," Bear said.
This author of this three-sentence text response did several things:
Made a claim: Determined the genre of the text.
Described the genre.
Cited evidence from the text to support the claim.
The student showed me:
That he understands the genre of fantasy.
That he can apply his knowledge of genre to a text.
What he applies regarding grammar and word knowledge.
That he can reference an anchor chart ("...include elements that are impossible").
That he can cite evidence from a text.
Now, we're ready to apply this skill at a deeper level! Oh-ho!
Check out this anchor chart from Jennifer Hartley's 5th-Grade class: