Beacon Lesson Plan Library

A Taste of Blackberries

Christy Clanton
Bay District Schools


[A Taste of Blackberries] provides a wonderful shared reading experience for fourth graders. The main character in the story helps the reader understand ways to manage grief in the loss of a best friend and identify skills of a responsible family member.


The student knows the skills needed to be a responsible friend and family member (eg., communication and sharing).

The student knows ways to manage grief caused by disappointment, separation, or loss (eg., loss of a pet).

The student uses a variety of strategies to monitor reading in fourth-grade or higher texts (for example, rereading, self-correcting, summarizing, checking other sources, class and group discussions, questioning whether text makes sense, searching for cues, identifying miscues).

The student understands explicit and implicit ideas and information in fourth-grade or higher texts (for example, knowing main idea or essential message, connecting important ideas with corresponding details, making inferences about information, distinguishing between significant and minor details, knowing chronological order of events).

The student uses a variety of strategies to prepare for writing (for example, brainstorming, making lists, mapping ideas, grouping related ideas, keeping a notebook of ideas, observing surroundings, answering questions posed by others).

The student uses an effective organizational pattern and substantial support to achieve a sense of completeness or wholeness (for example, considering audience, choosing effective words, sequencing events; using specific details to clarify meaning).

The student writes notes, comments, and observations that reflect comprehension of fourth grade or higher level content and experiences from a variety of media.

The student writes for a variety of occasions, audiences, and purposes (for example, journals to reflect upon ideas, reports to describe scientific observations).

The student uses electronic technology to create, revise, retrieve, and verify information (including but not limited to word-processing software, electronic encyclopedias).

The student reads a variety of literary and informational texts (for example, fiction, drama, poetry, biography, historical fiction, reference materials, chapter books, magazines, newspapers).

The student identifies and uses literary terminology appropriate to fourth grade or higher level (including but not limited to theme, simile, alliteration, metaphor).


- Multiple copies of [A Taste of Blackberries]-one copy per student
(Author: Doris Buchanan Smith;Copyright 1973; Illustrator: Mike Wimmer; Publisher: Harper Children's Books, A Division of Harper-Collins Publishers, New York, N.Y.)
- Computer stations
- The Learning Company’s Student Writing Center software
- Reader response bookmarks
- Printer and supplies


1. Gather materials.
2. Cut construction paper strips for reader response bookmarks (9”x4”), one for each child.
3. Load software on individual computer stations.


1. The teacher directs the class to record examples of how the main character handles his grief after he discovers that his best friend has died from bee stings. The teacher gives each child “a reader response bookmark” for them to use in recording the exact location of the examples by page and paragraph number.

2. As the teacher reads aloud, students follow along, noting the examples on their bookmarks. Their examples should contain, but not be limited to referring to the theme of the book. The bookmarks can be placed in the book at the end of the day’s reading session, marking the place for the beginning of the next day’s reading.

3. After the book is finished, the students share their examples with their teammates in teams of four. While students are sharing, the teacher monitors and participates in their discussions as appropriate to further their understanding of literary concepts as well as the health issues. Students may then add to or delete notes on their bookmarks during the sharing session.
4. Each student uses the journal writing feature of the software Student Writing Center to create a list of five ways to handle grief in the loss of a loved one. Additionally, each child tells how each of the main character’s family members helped him with the grief. This list becomes a planning page for them to draw upon in the next step.

5. Each student uses their list from step 4 to create a letter written from the main character's point of view to one of the main character's family members thanking that family member for their assistance in dealing with the grief experienced during the loss of their best friend. The letter should give supporting details from the book that tell how the particular family member helped during the time of loss.


Teacher reads student lists to look for five ways that children can handle grief in the loss of a loved one and a description of how the family members.

Additionally, the teacher observes students during the shared reading process as well as during team discussions. During observations the teacher takes note of how students are progressing with the following to provide input on further instruction:

-uses a variety of strategies to monitor reading
-understands explicit and implicit ideas and information
-uses an effective organizational pattern and substantial support to achieve a sense of completeness or wholeness
-identifies and uses literary terminology appropriate to fourth grade or higher
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