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January 27, 2017

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt : A Common Core Complex Text

By Kriscia Cabral
Grades 3–5

    Dive deeply into this historical fiction read about Clara and her dream to be reunited with her mother. Use printable resources from this lesson as a kick-starting guide into Black History Month. Click on the book image to purchase your own copy of Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt.

    Clara is an 11-year-old slave girl who is separated from her mother. Author Deborah Hopkinson paints Clara’s story with emotion, history, and passion as Clara learns how to sew, becoming a seamstress for her master. Over time, Clara gathers scraps that she transforms into stories in the quilt she is making. In the end, all of Clara’s quilt work comes together as a map to freedom.

    This beautifully scripted picture book can be used as a complex text that teachers can refer to on more than one occasion. Here is how I incorporated close reading alongside this text:

    First Read

    I first invite my students to read the story. I introduce the book with a preview of vocabulary they will encounter in the text. (For ideas on building your own personalized slide show check out “Using Storyworks Vocabulary Slides in Reading Instruction.” Click here for the slide show of the words I used for Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt.) We complete a gallery walk of the book by observing pictures, stopping to ask questions, and tell the story through what we see. We take notes in our composition books on what we’ve noticed and can be inferred.

     

        

    Second Read

    During our second read, I ask students to “read to understand.” As students are reading, their job is to complete the Scholastic Story Map. We read as a whole class. While we read, we write down questions, connections, things we wonder about, and other vocabulary we’d like to explore.

    In a whole-group setting, we share out about our first interpretation of the story. Students complete the story map in partners (two–three to a group, and each group has a copy of the book). We gather back and share to compare. I want to make sure that even though we did our story maps separately, the information on them should be similar.

     

    Third Read

    Our third read starts with a review of our first and second reads. We do this by sharing out and reviewing the Scholastic story map listed above.

    Our third read has a focus on character traits and Clara’s internal thoughts. After a mini-lesson on character traits (it was more of a review for my class as we had discussed it before), I used the Scholastic Printable, Blanket Statements graphic organizer to have students read the book as investigators on the hunt to identify traits of Clara. The graphic organizer provides focus on learning about multiple characters in the story and writing evidence to support the traits a student assigns to them. I chose to focus only on Clara. Students filled in the “blanket” and then colored and cut them out for display.

    Next Steps

    An extension my students complete is a pairing of nonfiction with Scholastic’s Underground Railroad: Escape From Slavery Interactive Unit. This unit is filled with primary sources, activities for the classroom, slide shows with read-to-you text, and a list of “must-read” texts. I highly recommend you check it out before, during, and after you explore this incredible piece of text.

    What resources do you use for Black History Month? I’d love to add your resources to my file! Please share!

    Thank you for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

    Dive deeply into this historical fiction read about Clara and her dream to be reunited with her mother. Use printable resources from this lesson as a kick-starting guide into Black History Month. Click on the book image to purchase your own copy of Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt.

    Clara is an 11-year-old slave girl who is separated from her mother. Author Deborah Hopkinson paints Clara’s story with emotion, history, and passion as Clara learns how to sew, becoming a seamstress for her master. Over time, Clara gathers scraps that she transforms into stories in the quilt she is making. In the end, all of Clara’s quilt work comes together as a map to freedom.

    This beautifully scripted picture book can be used as a complex text that teachers can refer to on more than one occasion. Here is how I incorporated close reading alongside this text:

    First Read

    I first invite my students to read the story. I introduce the book with a preview of vocabulary they will encounter in the text. (For ideas on building your own personalized slide show check out “Using Storyworks Vocabulary Slides in Reading Instruction.” Click here for the slide show of the words I used for Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt.) We complete a gallery walk of the book by observing pictures, stopping to ask questions, and tell the story through what we see. We take notes in our composition books on what we’ve noticed and can be inferred.

     

        

    Second Read

    During our second read, I ask students to “read to understand.” As students are reading, their job is to complete the Scholastic Story Map. We read as a whole class. While we read, we write down questions, connections, things we wonder about, and other vocabulary we’d like to explore.

    In a whole-group setting, we share out about our first interpretation of the story. Students complete the story map in partners (two–three to a group, and each group has a copy of the book). We gather back and share to compare. I want to make sure that even though we did our story maps separately, the information on them should be similar.

     

    Third Read

    Our third read starts with a review of our first and second reads. We do this by sharing out and reviewing the Scholastic story map listed above.

    Our third read has a focus on character traits and Clara’s internal thoughts. After a mini-lesson on character traits (it was more of a review for my class as we had discussed it before), I used the Scholastic Printable, Blanket Statements graphic organizer to have students read the book as investigators on the hunt to identify traits of Clara. The graphic organizer provides focus on learning about multiple characters in the story and writing evidence to support the traits a student assigns to them. I chose to focus only on Clara. Students filled in the “blanket” and then colored and cut them out for display.

    Next Steps

    An extension my students complete is a pairing of nonfiction with Scholastic’s Underground Railroad: Escape From Slavery Interactive Unit. This unit is filled with primary sources, activities for the classroom, slide shows with read-to-you text, and a list of “must-read” texts. I highly recommend you check it out before, during, and after you explore this incredible piece of text.

    What resources do you use for Black History Month? I’d love to add your resources to my file! Please share!

    Thank you for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

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