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Activity Overview


Themes come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify key themes in William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation and support their choices with details from the text.

Of Plymouth Plantation Themes and Ideas to Discuss

The Importance of Faith

An important theme in Of Plymouth Plantation is the importance of faith. William Bradford and the other Puritans were firm believers in Providence, or the hand of God guiding all things. When a particularly nasty shipman was knocked overboard in a storm on their Mayflower voyage, Bradford wrote that it was because of God’s will. The Pilgrims’ faith is always at the center of Bradford’s writing, and unlike some of his counterparts who were writing at the time, he credited all of the colony’s successes to the strength God gave the Pilgrims in their endeavors, rather than himself.


The Strength of A United Community

Another important theme raised in Of Plymouth Plantation is the strength of a united community. Bradford writes about the first winter, with all of the diseases and starvation that afflicted many of the Pilgrims. He mentions six or seven “sound persons” who did everything for the ill and infirm. He says they did all of it “willingly and cheerfully without any grudging in the least, showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren...” This is the sense of a united community that Bradford highlights throughout his narrative, a community that was united not only in turmoil, but in their faith, and as a result, they survived.


Perseverance

An additional important theme in Of Plymouth Plantation is perseverance. Despite the first harsh winter, the many skirmishes with the Native American tribes (especially the Pequot), the diseases, and the struggles of building something from nothing in a New World far removed from Europe, the Pilgrims survived and began to flourish. This is due to their resolve to persevere in spite of the obstacles they encountered. Part of this is also due to the fact that they knew there was no place for them in England, or in Holland anymore. With nowhere else to go, and wishing to remain separate from the settlement in Jamestown, the Pilgrims’ perseverance helps them to survive and still keep their faith.


The Rewards of Hard Work

A final important theme found in Of Plymouth Plantation is the rewards of hard work. Because of the Pilgrims’ perseverance, Bradford writes about the many rewards: they establish a peace treaty with the Nauset tribes, including Squanto and Massasoit, who provide essential aid and important commodities to the settlers; the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which increases the number of settlers and supplies; Harvard University is founded; the New England Confederation is formed; the settlers are free to practice their religion as they wish, even to the exclusion of others. All of these things come as a result of the settlers’ hard work, perseverance, and common faith in God.



Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-10

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner

Type of Activity: Themes, Symbols & Motifs

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RI/9-10/5] Analyze in detail how an author's ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
  • [ELA-Literacy/RI/9-10/6] Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RI/9-10/9] Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (e.g., Washington's Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech, King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail"), including how they address related themes and concepts.


Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)



Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Of Plymouth Plantation. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from Of Plymouth Plantation you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for examples that represent this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



Rubric

(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)



Themes, Symbols, and Motifs (Grades 9-12)
Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes, symbols, and/or motifs in the story. Illustrate instances of each and write a short description that explains the example's significance.
Proficient Emerging Beginning Needs Improvement
Identification of Theme(s), Symbol(s), and/or Motif(s)
All themes are correctly identified as important recurring topics or messages in the story. Symbols are correctly identified as objects that represent something else at a higher level in the story. Motifs are correctly identified as important recurring features or ideas in the story.
Most themes are correctly identified, but others are missing or incomplete. Most symbols are correctly identified, but some objects are missing or incomplete. Some motifs are correctly identified, but others are missing or incomplete.
Most themes are missing, incomplete, or incorrect. Most symbols are missing, incomplete, or incorrect. Most motifs are missing, incomplete, or incorrect.
No themes, symbols, or motifs are correctly identified.
Examples and Descriptions
Quotes and examples are accurate to the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) that are being identified. Descriptions accurately explain the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) and highlight their significance to the story.
Most quotes and examples are accurate to the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motifs that are being identified. Descriptions mostly accurately explain the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s), and highlight their significance to the story.
Most quotes and examples are minimal, incorrect, or unrelated to the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) that are being identified. Descriptions contain inaccuracies in their explanations, or do not highlight their significance to the story.
Examples and descriptions are missing or too minimal to score.
Depiction
Depictions chosen for theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) are accurate to the story and reflect time, effort, thought, and care with regard to placement and creation of the scenes.
Depictions chosen for theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) are mostly accurate to the story. They reflect time and effort put into placement and creation of the scenes.
Depictions chosen for theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) are inaccurate to the story. The depictions may be rushed or show minimal effort, time, and care put into placement and creation of the scenes.
Most depictions are missing too many elements or are too minimal to score. Little time or effort has been put into placement and creation of the scenes.
English Conventions
There are no errors in spelling, grammar, or mechanics throughout the storyboard. All writing portions reflect careful proofreading and accuracy to the story.
There are a few errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics throughout the storyboard. All writing portions show accuracy to the story and some proofreading.
There are several errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics throughout the storyboard. Most writing portions do not reflect proofreading or accuracy to the story.
Errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics in writing portions of the storyboard seriously interfere with communication.




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