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Topics surrounding general assessment and the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Systems.

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Lizzyread
Lizzyread
Posts: 5


23 days ago
Lizzyread
Lizzyread
Posts: 5
Hi,
I have questions regarding the rubric stating that students need to understand clear understanding of the deeper messages of the text. I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around the difference between:
1)theme
2) message
3) big idea
I have heard these terms used interchangeably and when I search online, I find very different answers.
The Literacy Continuum refers to Messages & Themes under one category for fiction and nonfiction and then under language and literary features it talks about motif.
Are all of these applied to fiction and nonfiction?
My understanding was that the big idea is a global message, which would be the same as message. Theme seems more specific to the text.
Do fiction and nonfiction all have messages?
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Helenann Steensen, Fountas & Pinnell Consultant
Helenann Steensen, Fountas & Pinnell Consultant
Posts: 745


23 days ago
Lizzyread wrote:
Hi,
I have questions regarding the rubric stating that students need to understand clear understanding of the deeper messages of the text. I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around the difference between:
1)theme
2) message
3) big idea
I have heard these terms used interchangeably and when I search online, I find very different answers.
The Literacy Continuum refers to Messages & Themes under one category for fiction and nonfiction and then under language and literary features it talks about motif.
Are all of these applied to fiction and nonfiction?
My understanding was that the big idea is a global message, which would be the same as message. Theme seems more specific to the text.
Do fiction and nonfiction all have messages?


Fountas and Pinnell state in Genre Study, “The theme (also called the big idea) of a story is the underlying message or messages in the text or the bigger meaning below the story’s surface. The theme reveals the author’s purpose. The big idea is often stated at the end of a story and is sometimes voiced by one of the characters.... Most of the time, themes are not explicitly stated and must be uncovered by the reader....As with many high-quality stories, several themes can be derived from [a story]....We need to help our students become sophisticated enough to identify the main theme of a story or to discern and discuss multiple themes.”

In Nonfiction texts, such as Biographies, Autobiographies and Memoirs, the author’s message or messages relate to the theme (or big idea). In Narrative Nonfiction, the author’s messages provide factual information in narrative style and chronological structure about a particular theme or topic. In Expository Nonfiction, Procedural Texts and Persuasive Texts the information is typically organized around a topic.

Please see Genre Study by Fountas and Pinnell, which is very helpful in distinguishing the characteristics of literature genres.
You have asked a very important question. I hope this information has been helpful.

--
Helenann Steensen, Official Fountas & Pinnell Consultant, Heinemann
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Lizzyread
Lizzyread
Posts: 5


22 days ago
Lizzyread
Lizzyread
Posts: 5
This is helpful, thank you. From your explanation, my understanding is that these 3 terms are under one big umbrella.
An author writes a text for the purpose of conveying to the reader the theme/big idea. Authors select the genre in which they want to convey this message.
Everyone always says the author's purpose was either to persuade, inform, or entertain (PIE). Is this just the genre they choose to convey the message?

For the comprehension rubric in BAS 2 students need to demonstrate an understanding of the deeper messages of the text. When nonfiction stories are focused around a topic such as with expository nonfiction, such as the text in Not too Cold for a Polar Bear (level Q NF BAS) or Tsunamis (Level U) the message/theme/big idea is more straight-forward such as Polar Bears are amazing animals in that they can live in the cold. Tsunamis are natural disasters that we have to prepare for.

Is my understanding correct?
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Helenann Steensen, Fountas & Pinnell Consultant
Helenann Steensen, Fountas & Pinnell Consultant
Posts: 745


21 days ago
Lizzyread wrote:
This is helpful, thank you. From your explanation, my understanding is that these 3 terms are under one big umbrella.
An author writes a text for the purpose of conveying to the reader the theme/big idea. Authors select the genre in which they want to convey this message.
Everyone always says the author's purpose was either to persuade, inform, or entertain (PIE). Is this just the genre they choose to convey the message?

For the comprehension rubric in BAS 2 students need to demonstrate an understanding of the deeper messages of the text. When nonfiction stories are focused around a topic such as with expository nonfiction, such as the text in Not too Cold for a Polar Bear (level Q NF BAS) or Tsunamis (Level U) the message/theme/big idea is more straight-forward such as Polar Bears are amazing animals in that they can live in the cold. Tsunamis are natural disasters that we have to prepare for.

Is my understanding correct?


Let me start by congratulating you on your deep thinking! I am including additional information from the text, Genre Study by Fountas and Pinnell. I hope it supports as well as extends your continued insights into genre instruction.

From Chapter 10 of Genre Study: “Writers of nonfiction texts have a number of decisions to make as they think about text structure. Depending on purpose, they can use either narrative or non-narrative structure, or a combination of both.”

“These categories [non-narrative text structures: expository, procedural, or persuasive] are helpful in recognizing the types of texts, but we also need to realize that many texts do not fit neatly into one category. A text can be all three—expository, procedural, and persuasive.”

From Chapter 11 of Genre Study: “Themes and ideas. These are the big ideas communicated by the writer. Ideas may be concrete and accessible or complex and abstract. Fiction genres usually communicate a message about human relationships or life. Nonfiction writers also have overarching messages; they may be highly persuasive or guide readers to draw conclusions, form opinions, or develop attitudes from the facts they present.”

From Chapter 4 of Genre Study: “Themes and ideas are the big ideas and messages of the text. The more obvious and concrete they are, the easier they are to understand. Highly abstract and hard-to-grasp themes increase difficulty.”

We wish you success in your instruction around genre study!

--
Helenann Steensen, Official Fountas & Pinnell Consultant, Heinemann
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