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: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is the perfect book with rich vocabulary. It has real life connections and experiences of getting the perfect barbershop cut. Students will be able to visualize inferred meaning.
Why Use Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut Works?
If you are not familiar with this book, run to the library and get your sticky notes and pencil ready! Take time to mark your teaching points.
First, I’ll share a few of my observations. I thoroughly loved the amazing realistic photos. The illustrations really make you feel as though you are right there in the shop.
In addition to Barnes’ word choice, your students of color will also connect to the barber’s artistic skills as he masterfully creates designs along the sides of the boy’s head. My students loved talking about some of the designs they’d had with their cuts. It was fun listening to them make connections in this way.
Most importantly, through Barnes’ descriptions, your students will be built up as royalty because of his choice of words. Every single student should be built up as royalty. When you find a book that does this, you must have it in your library.
Introducing Context Clues:
When we use mentor texts to teach a skill, the first step is to find the teaching points in the book. I take time to mark these points with sticky notes. This helps me remember to stop and discuss the teaching points in the context of the skill. With this book, one thing I love is the cadence as you read it. It naturally has pausing points. The page’s illustrations and focus almost seems to target a specific word or theme.
Take the word intellectual as one example. In the book, the author describes it as “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.
Another example I’ll share is this one for the word manufacture. You can connect the words presidential, CEO, and tech company. There are many examples in the book like these.
Modeling Vocabulary within the book:
As a group, you can explore the word more deeply by using these teaching posters in a jigsaw format. Divide the kids into five teams, and each team 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).
- Share antonyms for the word.
Of course, the organizers and vocabulary posters can be used with any book. 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.
Interested in this resource? You can download it by clicking the image below.
Read Aloud Video:
If you don’t have a copy of Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, then check out this Youtube link for use with your lesson.
Other Vocabulary Links:
Looking for other ways to weave vocabulary instruction into your lessons? Check out the other posts on my blog:
- 10 Ways to Embed Vocabulary Instruction in Every Lesson
- 20+ Ways to Keep Vocabulary Fresh and Fun
- Vocabulary Instruction…What, Why, How, and When
- Vocabulary Ideas to Whooot About