Additional Resources

Estimated Time Needed

5 days, 45 minutes per day

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Sees Behind Trees
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


      What can you cite as evidence to show that Walnut has difficulty seeing? 

      Walnut asks, “Track what?” for the third time, squints to see better, and describes his mother as a blurry image. Only when she is close enough to touch can he see her face and sense the tenseness in her body.

      What is moss and how does it connect to Walnut’s life?

      Moss is the soft grass-like growth on the outside of trees and along the ground in dense, humid forests. It is the target that Walnut must hit with his arrow in order to pass the test to be considered a man by his community.

      How are Walnut and his mom feeling as Walnut tries to hit the moss? What clues can be found in the text that point to these feelings? Why is being able to shoot the moss important to Walnut and his mother?

      His mother is frustrated and feels as though Walnut is not trying. Walnut is frustrated because he is doing his best, but he cannot see the moss. It is important to them because this is the test Walnut must pass in order to be considered a man.


      Although Walnut’s lack of vision is evident, how do you know that the events in the forest aren’t typical of what has happened in the past and that his mother is not going to relent on making him complete the task? Share specific examples from the text.

      His mother says, “Today we will not surrender.” She is stern and doesn’t laugh when Walnut notes that her face looks like a dried onion when she suggests he squint to see better.

      As Walnut leaves the forest, he starts to inventory things he does well. What are some of the things he does well? What does this list tell us about Walnut? And why might he make this list?

      List — Ability to smell violets and berries, can whistle using a stiff reed, can sing songs after hearing them just one time, and can hear his father’s footsteps before anyone else. 


      This list emphasizes that Walnut is talented in multiple ways that do not involve sight. Walnut makes this list because he feels bad about not being able to shoot the moss. He doesn’t understand why he can’t do it, when he can do these other things so well. 

      How does Walnut try to solve his problem?  What does this tell us about Walnut?

      Walnut tries to solve his problem by asking his uncle for advice. This shows that he wants to improve his shooting skills, and it shows that he is resourceful.

      What process does his uncle goes through to determine what Walnut is doing wrong? 






      What does Walnut say to his uncle and why?    

      Walnut’s uncle

      • Checks Walnut’s bow string
      • Asks if he is closing his eyes in the last second
      • Asks Walnut to identify how many fingers he is holding up
      • Changes the number of fingers with each question
      • Finally, he says he is not holding up any fingers


      Walnut says, “’I knew that… I was making a joke.” Walnut is trying to “save face.”  He is embarrassed that he can’t see.

      In your own words, describe how Walnut’s mother changes his training.

      Walnut’s mother blindfolds him, and he must describe in detail the spot where they are standing without looking. Basically, he must use his nose (smell) and ears (sound) in order to “see.” They repeat the activity every day in a new spot throughout the summer.

      Walnut’s mom asks him to “look with [his] ears,” and, in response, he thinks that the longer they go without talking, “the more separate parts announced themselves.” What does Walnut mean by this? And what “parts” does Walnut hear?

      Walnut hears more keenly as he sits quietly and listens. He is able to distinguish the noises of the forest from one another, as opposed to them sounding like one big mass of noise. He hears:

      • Hush of the brook
      • Buzz of the beehive
      • Rush of the river
      • Hummingbird’s wings
      • Smell of roses

      As the feast begins, what is Walnut thinking and feeling?  How do you know?

      Walnut is worried he will embarrass his father. He is afraid the people of the tribe will blame his mother for not correctly teaching him to use a bow and arrow. He is nervous because he knows he cannot hit the target.

      Use two details from the story to describe the weroance and explain her place in the story.

      She is the tribe’s “most important person” and an “expert in hunting.” She judges the tests of manhood. She has to approve the addition of the new test that Walnut takes.

      Compare Frog’s and Walnut’s reaction to the new trial to be a man.

      Frog is worried and anxious, but Walnut is confident because he knows how to listen to and smell the forest. He uses the wind and differentiates the sounds of the usual and the unusual.

      In your own words, describe how Walnut passes the test to be a man. Use at least five details from the text.

      • Ties the sash over his eyes
      • “Thought so hard that [his] head felt tight between [his] ears”
      • Afraid to make a mistake; pretends he is just with his mother
      • Nervously, Walnut describes the man coming from the south
      • Gray Fire appears
      • Walnut is given a man’s name — Sees Behind Trees
  • 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





      Fire flies




      Sufficient contextual clues are provided in the text













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