Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech - Teaching Ideas

Mr. Keene loves his school. He loves the kids, the teachers and all the learning that happens when everyone is at school. Because of this love Mr. Keene decides that everyone should come to school on Saturdays and of course nobody else thinks it is a good idea, but nobody wants to tell Mr. Keene. As Saturday school progresses, Mr. Keene soon declares Sunday a school day as well. Once again no body wants to tell Mr. Keene that this is not a good idea. As the story continues Mr. Keene soon has the kids and teachers at school on all the holidays and then during the summer. Finally, Tillie decides that she must talk to Mr. Keene about all this school. She convinces Mr. Keene that there is learning that happens outside of school and since they have been going to school EVERYDAY those other people (Tillie's brother and dog) and other things to learn (like climbing a tree) are not getting done. Mr. Keene had no idea of the learning that wasn't happening because of being in school, so he finally switches school back to just Monday thru Friday.

This is a very cute story about going to school and all the learning that happens there, but in the end I think Mr. Keene learns the most valuable lesson.

Listed below are possible skills, strategies and ideas that you can use to create a great lesson. I have created a Point of View freebie to go with this book if that happens to be what you are working on.

Reading level: 2.7
Theme/subject: school
Genre: general fiction

Suggested Vocabulary/phrases: strolled, roaring, cheer, soared

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder what the story is about. I wonder why she has such a big backpack. I wonder why the dog is reading. {possible questions during} I wonder why nobody told the principal they didn’t want school on all those extra days. I wonder why the principal thought the kids and teachers liked having that much school. {possible questions after}  I wonder if the students will still learn as much as they did when they were in school all year. **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – Third. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this (they, fine teachers, fine principal, he, and she).
  • Author's purpose – entertain {evidence} the principal made everyone go to school every day. The dog was reading. There was a student brushing his teeth at school. All these things are a bit silly and make an entertaining story.
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} the principal thought his school was a fine school. {most important event from middle} The principal decided the students and teachers should be at school every day – weekends, holidays and summer! {most important event from end} Tillie finally told the principal that there were people outside of school that weren’t learning.
  • Cause and effect – Why did Mr. Keene think it was a fine school? because he saw the students learning shapes, colors, numbers and letters, reading, writing, drawing and painting. How come the teachers and students had to go to school on Saturdays? Because no one know how to tell Mr. Keene that they didn’t want to. How come Tillie decided to talk to Mr. Keene? Because she had to leave her brother to learn on his own. Why was the boy brushing his teeth at school? Because he didn’t have time at home. Why was everyone so worried at the last assembly? Because they thought Mr. Keene was going to have dogs and little brothers come to school. Why were all the students so happy? Because they didn’t have to come to school on Saturday, Sunday, holidays or summer anymore.
  • Character analysis - describe Mr. Keene, describe Tillie {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Character changes – {beginning} Mr. Keene thought everyone needed to be in school all the time to learn as much as they could. {end} Mr. Keene finally realized that there was learning outside of school that has to happen as well and the kids cannot do it if they are in school all the time.
  • Classify & categorize – things to learn – inside and outside of school
  • Compare & contrast – Mr. Keene and Tillie. Your principal and Mr. Keene.
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Going to a fine school. Having a great principal. Having a brother at home that you help do thing and help learn things. {possible text-to-text connections} Frog Principal by Stephanie Calmenson or The Principals New Clothes by Stephanie Calmenson both of these books are about principals and the kids at the school.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – Why do you think Mr. Keene listened to Tillie and changed his mind about having school all the time. {text clues} Tillie tells Mr. Keene that she can’t teach her brother how to swing or skip and can’t teach her dog to sit. She also tells him that she can’t learn how to climb a tree. {what I know} I know that I learn many things outside of the classroom. {my conclusion} I think Mr. Keene listened to Tillie because he didn’t realize how much students learn even when they are not in school.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} the story is mostly about students going to school all the time. {details} Mr. Keene made the students come to school on Saturdays. They had to go to school on holidays. They had to come to school during the summer.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when Tillie finally went in and talked to Mr. Keene.
  • Predict – What do you think the story is going to be about? Why do you think he called everyone together? Do you think Mr. Keene will want them to go to school during the summer? Do you think anyone will ever talk to Mr. Keene? What do you thing Mr. Keene will do after he talks to Tillie?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} Mr. Keene is making the students and teachers come to school all the time. {solution} Tillie decided to talk to Mr. Keene and all the school.
  • Sequencing – Mr. Keene loves his school. Mr. Keene told everyone to start coming to school on Saturdays. On Sundays Tillie climbed trees and worked with Beans and tried to teach her brother how to swing and skip. Mr. Keene said they should go to school on Sundays. The next month Mr. Keene said they should go to school on all the holidays. Mr. Keene said they should go to school during the summer. On the 1st day of summer Tillie went and talked to Mr. Keene. Mr. Keene called everyone together. Everyone was worried. Mr. Keene said they wouldn’t have school on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and the summer. Everyone was happy.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – Everyone was too afraid to talk to Mr. Keene about all the extra school. What would you do or say to Mr. Keene if you were one of the students.
  • Summarize - {someone} Mr. Keene {wanted} wanted the students to come to school on the weekends, holidays and during the summer {but} the students didn’t want to {so} so Tillie talked to Mr. Keene and {then} he {finally} finally understood that you can learn things even when you are not in school.
  • Theme – Mr. Keene learned that learning can take place everywhere, not just in school. 
  • Visualize – What would you look like if you were told you needed to go to school on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and all summer?

You can pick this up from either one of my stores.

Classroom Freebies Manic MondayFreebie Fridays

Happy Planning!


  1. I bought this book when I taught third grade. I read it to my kindergarteners now. Good book!

    A Very Curious Class

    1. Hi Amanda,
      Yes, this book is great, and fun to read in any grade!

  2. Every year I ask the principal to read to my students as our first "Mystery Reader". I had him read this book last year and the kids loved it! I was hoping it wouldn't give him any ideas though! :)


    1. How fun to have the principal read this book. He/she could really have fun with the kids with this book.

  3. I love this book! Thank you for the great freebie to go with it!
    Conversations in Literacy

    1. Hi Lori,
      This is definitely a great book, especially for the beginning of the year.

  4. Replies
    1. Hi Brandee,
      You won't be sorry! It is a fun book. You can even do as Miss Trayers and have the principal come in and read the book to the kids.

  5. Love this! Thanks for sharing! I will definitely use for multiple lessons! :)


    Elementary Teacher Files

  6. My teenage daughter goes to a HS where the principal is fantastic, he has been slowly making their school day longer, until 6 and was talking about 7 next (wow).. He eventually added Saturday classes from 9-2 and right before the end of June he mentioned "he was thinking about Sunday's" oh I forgot to mention they attend classes in the summer.. "Can you say over kill" I sent him my copy of "A Fine, Fine School" and told my daughter to tell him he reminds me of the principal in the book.. He called me while at work, I thought it was something about my daughter so I excused myself to take the call to find out he thanked me for the book and said, he loved it and he was keeping it.. I had no choice but to laugh and say "you are welcome".. I came to the realization that if my daughter is happy with it so am I.. She is now in the 11th grade with with 10 college credits and she is taking 3 college courses this fall with 3 HS classes, she is dedicated and vet determine.. Forgot to mention it is the new HS in Brooklyn, NY "Pathways in Technology Early College HS" I believe the book is great for all ages, who said a children's book is only for children? I read what excites me and sometimes I find myself reading a children's book and reflecting on it.. I replaced my copy never getting rid of it and hope to see some similar books like it soon.. THANK YOU FOR A GREAT BOOK!


Thoughts and comments are always welcome!

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