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Estimated Time Needed

5 days, 45 minutes per day

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Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World
During the
  • During Teaching
      1. Students read the entire main selection text independently.

      2. The teacher reads the main selection text aloud while students follow along. (Depending on how complex the text is and the amount of support needed by students, the teacher may choose to reverse the order of steps 1 and 2.)

      3. Students and teacher re-read the text while stopping to respond to and discuss the questions, continually returning to the text. A variety of methods can be used to structure the reading and discussion (i.e.: whole class discussion, think-pair-share, independent written response, group work, etc.)

  • Text Dependent Questions
    • Text-dependent Questions


      At the beginning of the story, while Grandpa is visiting, Justin gets so upset he begins to cry. What causes Justin to have this reaction?

      He feels as though everyone complains about the way he does things; he can’t do anything right – at least not the things his friend Anthony calls “women’s work.”

      The author writes that “Justin stood around downstairs. He had a strange feeling of guilt and wished he had helped with the dishes.” What does it mean to feel guilty? Why does Justin consider this feeling to be a strange one?

      A person may feel guilty when they don’t do something they think they should have done or if they do something they know they shouldn’t have done. Justin may have a feeling of guilt because he is confused about Grandpa doing “women’s work” so easily and pleasantly. Grandpa asked him to help with the chores, and he didn’t because he didn’t feel competent, yet he feels he should have helped.

      Justin moves from being reluctant to do his chores to saying to his grandpa, “That was easy.” Grandpa responds, “Everything’s easy when you know how.” What leads Justin to feel a surge or a sudden strong burst of love for his grandpa?

      Justin had been reluctant to do his chores because he couldn’t do them well. Grandpa shows him how to wash and dry dishes, make his bed, and fold his clothes. Grandpa is patient with him and encourages him to do a good job.

      What does “riding fence” mean? Why is it important for a rancher like Grandpa to “ride fence”?

      “Riding fence” means inspecting the fence for weak spots so they can be repaired. It’s important because a strong fence keeps the cows safe.

      Justin said, “I guess that’s a joke, eh?” What was the joke?

      His grandpa refers to the nursery rhyme “Hey, Diddle Diddle” with a serious look on his face.

      The author uses a series of words and phrases to help paint of picture of Justin and Grandpa’s surroundings. What words or phrases help you to “see” their setting?  

      Sun heated up the morning; foothills were varying shades of green; shadows dotted the plains; fog lingered like lazy clouds; insects buzzed; a small cloud of mosquitoes swarmed just behind their heads; beautiful cardinals splashed their redness on the morning air.

      Why does Justin feel a surge of happiness when witnessing his surroundings that morning?

      The author’s words paint a picture of a new day. This pretty and calm setting allows Justin to forget his troubles and enjoy the outdoors with his grandpa.

      What evidence does the author provide to show that Grandpa is gentle and understands the feelings of others?”

      The incident with the fawn and the way Grandpa handls it shows us a lot about his character. He is gentle with the fawn, and he is careful not to upset the doe. We know this by the way he carefully handles the fawn and tells Justin to stay still so the doe doesn’t get upset. He is also understanding of Justin and Black’s reaction to the blood on the fawn and encourages them to “run” for a few minutes.

      What did Justin learn from watching Grandpa prepare lunch?

      Men can be cooks.

      The author writes, “The look he [Justin] gave Grandpa revealed his doubts.” Based on clues in the text, what do the words “reveal” and “doubt” mean? What does this sentence tell us about Justin and how he feels about what Grandpa is telling him?

      To reveal means to show something that you haven’t shown others before, and doubts are feelings you have when you’re not sure about something. The author is showing us that Justin isn’t totally convinced that men can be good cooks (he remembers the egg on the floor and his rice burning). He still has doubts about whether or not Grandpa is right.

      What do the facts about black cowboys have to do with the characters in this story? How do the illustrations help us to understand why Grandpa might have told Justin about these people?

      Grandpa and Justin are both African American, and Grandpa shares stories about other prominent African Americans in which Justin might be interested. For instance, he asks Grandpa, “Were there lots of black cowboys?”

      Justin says, “I bet you don’t like boys that cry like babies,” what is Grandpa’s response, and why does he tell Justin about the time he cried?

      Grandpa says that we all cry sometimes. He tells Justin that he cried when Justin was born. He was “flooded with joy” at the sight of the baby. Grandma had just died and he knew she would never be able to see Justin.

      In the final lines of the story, the author writes, “A warmth spread over Justin and he lowered his eyes. He wished he could tell his grandpa all he felt, how much he loved him.” Based on what we know about Justin, what inferences can we make about why he doesn’t tell his grandpa how much he loves him?

      This circles back to the doubts Justin is still harboring over men being cooks and revisits his questions about crying. Justin is still unsure about what is and is not “okay” for him to feel or do. He didn’t think men cook and he didn’t think men should cry. He thought crying made him look like a baby. Therefore, we can infer that Justin either thinks he shouldn’t talk about his love because he is a boy or because he thinks it would make him look like a baby. He still has a lot to learn from his grandpa.

  • Academic Vocabulary



      Words addressed with a question or task


      General teaching suggestions are provided in the Introduction


      Not enough contextual clues provided in the text



      Convinced, ranch

      Stacks, helpings, measuring, strange, meadow

      Razor sharp

      Hurriedly, surge, graze, linger, taut

      Cautiously, pranced, restlessly, bounded, trembled

      Resounding, mimicking


      Lurked, rustling




      Sufficient contextual clues are provided in the text







      Riding fence

      Reveal, doubt





      Quickly, cleared, carefully, guilt

      Well-made, faded, rumpled

      Inspecting, mending,

      Bitter, alarmed

      Protect, untangled


      Pounded, revealed




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