Author's Purpose With Freckleface Strawberry
It's not always easy being a kid. All of us can relate to the feeling of being teased about something that made us stand out of the crowd. Maybe we even did some of the teasing ourselves. Figuring out how to love the unique and amazing person you are, imperfections and all, can take a lifetime. When I saw the cover of Julianne Moore's book Freckleface Strawberry, I knew I had to add it to my classroom library. (Yes, I was a freckle-faced kid myself.) Check out how you can use this book in your own classroom to teach author's purpose as your students learn that everyone is different . . . and THAT is what makes each one of us so special.
First, have your students get set up for the work they are about to do. They will need two post-it notes, a clipboard (or in this case, a notebook), and a pencil. Once the students write their names on each post-it, call them over to the meeting area so that you can get started on the work right away.
Introduce the book and make your expectations clear. Authors write to teach, to entertain, or to persuade. Writing a focus question on chart paper will help keep kids on track during the read-aloud. Think! Why did the author write this story? Read the book aloud to the students. When you reach the end of the book, ask your students to record their thinking on the first post-it.
Be sure to give your students enough time to get their thinking on the post-it. Consider providing a little extra support by restating the question: "Why do you think the author wrote this story?" Once everyone has finished writing, have students share their thinking as they help you categorize their post-its on the chart paper. The results will be pretty impressive.
After working with an amazing group of 3rd graders on this strategy last week, we found two major categories for our thinking. The first line of post-its communicate the idea that the author wrote the story because she wanted to teach her readers a lesson. The second line of post-its express the idea that the author wrote the story because the same thing happened to her as a child. Your chart may have additional categories, depending on the responses of your students. You may even find that one or two students have responses that stand alone.
As a quick informal assessment of comprehension, you can look at the results to decide which students really understood the message of the story. You can also refer back to this chart for spelling skills, grammar, and clarity. Although these were quick notes, they should be legible, sight words should be spelled correctly, and their writing should make sense.
After having a discussion about what most of your students were thinking, ask them to decide which page of the book really showed why the author wrote this story.This is another way to assess your students' understanding of the book. Do a quick picture walk to allow your students to take another look at how the story unfolded. Using the second post-it, have students represent the page they feel shows why the author wrote the book by using words and sketches.
Next, repeat your picture walk and ask your students to place their post-its on the pages of the book as they come up. Flip through the book to examine the results.
Here are some examples from our exploration with this lesson.
Some pages had a few post-it notes . . .
While others were almost totally filled up . . .
This activity can be a great springboard for discussions.
- Which page had the most post-its? Why?
- Which page had the least? Why?
- Which pages had none? Why?
- What was it about that page that made you decide that it represented why the author wrote this story?
What a wonderful way to learn a valuable life lesson while understanding the author's purpose.
Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical
Last Thursday, Camp Broadway invited me to a preview of Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical during a special Educator's Night at the theater. What a show! The characters were lovable, the acting was great, and the singing and dancing blew me away. The show officially opens in early October. If you are a teacher in the New York City area, you may want to inquire about special group pricing for class trips. Download the AMAZING study guide to help you make the most of your trip.
I hope that you will consider using this book across grades and for many purposes. Freckleface Strawberry has the power to teach our students some important life lessons.
It took me a long time to love my freckles . . .