This past Friday (January 14, 2022) I wanted to introduce the concept of motif to my 8th graders and to give them a chance to share their noticings/understandings about a motif in their memoir book study.  We began by reviewing a basic definition and a menu of possible motifs in our memoir books:

Students were provided:

  • a sheet protector to store their notes and “baby notes” about motifs
  • a large neon Post-It note
  • a Sharpie or marker of their choosing

Students were asked to choose a motif and to write about how they see that motif occurring in their memoir book.  Once they completed their Post-It note thinking, we added their work to our gallery wall for his/her book.  Some students needed time to finish yesterday (we were out of school this past Monday and Tuesday) due to checking out as well as an unexpected venture outside due to a malfunctioning sensor on our school fire alarm system, but overall, students did a terrific job reflecting and thinking in their work.  While I expected students to do their own individual work, they were encouraged to read and share what they had written with their book peers.

We have been busy with book discussions and book discussion prep work yesterday and today, but students will have a chance tomorrow to walk around and read the Post-Its for all books.  Students can write down titles of books for their next read as well as make notes of any motifs they may want to look for as they continue reading and moving forward with their books.

This is a very simple activity, but it really pushed the thinking of my middle schoolers.  We will continue to reinforce this concept in the next 10 school days, and I’ll be utilizing this fabulous resource that was just released this past weekend for motif study.