Teaching Context Clues with Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by


Vocabulary knowledge is one of the biggest indicators to reading success. How do we as educators support vocabulary growth? One of the best ways to build vocabulary is through literature that provides exemplars AND carefully constructed writing that includes context clues. Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cut is the perfect book due to the rich vocabluary embedded within it as well as the real life connections and experiences of getting the perfect barbershop cut.


If you are not familiar with this book, RUN to the library, get your sticky notes and pencil ready, and take time to mark your teaching points. You will be mesmerized by the colorful photos and drawn in to the barbershop experience through Barnes' carefully crafted words. Your students of color will definitely connect the barber's artistic skills as he masterfully creates designs along the sides of the boy's head, but more importantly, through Barnes' descriptions, they'll be built up as royalty because of his choice of words. Every single student should be built up as royalty, and when you find a book that does this, you must have it in your library.


This collection of mentor text lessons are for more than comprehension. They help us celebrate diversity. Just like all students should feel like royalty, all students should see themselves in the texts that we use in our teaching. My literacy loving pals and I are each sharing a favorite book for teaching a specific reading or writing skill, but in our selection, we sought out titles that celebrate diversity. At the end of my post, you'll see thumbnails of the books and activities we're highlighting. Please take a moment to hop through, download, comment, and share our posts on your social media to let your friends know.


When we use mentor texts to teach a skill, we must identify the teaching points in the books we're using which align with the skill we're teaching. As I mentioned, marking those points with sticky notes helps us remember to stop and discuss those points in the context of the skill. With this book, one thing I loved is the cadence that you read it in. It naturally has pausing points and the page's illustrations and focus almost seems to target a specific word or theme.

Here's an example. Take the word intellectual. Notice the examples...smashing the geography exam and rearranging the honor roll. There is also the reference to the brain. As you share the book, you can have your students record their thoughts using this organizer. I am sharing one in color too in case you'd want to project it as you read.

The last quote I wanted to share is this one for the word manufacture. You can connect the words presidential, CEO, and tech company. 

As a group, you can explore the word more deeply by using these teaching posters in a jigsaw format. You divide the kids into five teams, and each performs one of the following tasks:

✅ Find the quote in the reading and record it.
✅ Come up with a kid-friendly definition.
✅ Provide examples of things that are manufactured.
✅ Give a list of synonyms for the word (use a thesaurus if needed).
✅ Give antonyms for the word. 

Of course, the organizers and vocabulary posters can be used with any book, and they can be printed or projected.  Note-If you want to use the colored version of the organizer, you should be able to screenshot the page and insert it into a blank Google Slide. Then, add text boxes for your students to respond. 


To download this resource, simply click the image below or [here]



If you are looking for other ways to weave vocabulary instruction into your lessons, check out the other posts on my blog:
Why "Covering" Vocabulary Fails to Get the Job Done


Thank you for visiting my blog today. If you're new to my site, take a minute to visit the NEWSLETTER SIGN UP at the top of the page. You'll see several options and each includes an exclusive free resource and the password to my resource library. 

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  1. Thank you so much, Carla. I can't wait to read this book.

  2. I cannot wait to use this book and resource with my third and fourth grade groups! Thanks so much!

  3. Awesome! I had never heard of this book and can't wait to add it to my collection. Thank you for sharing!


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