The Sharecrow

poem by Lisa Varchol Perron , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning intention:

I am learning to reflect on ways authors make texts interesting and unique.

Success criteria:

  • I can identify common thoughts on a topic.
  • I can analyse an image to identify how it shows a unique perspective.
  • I can examine how a unique perspective engages readers.
  • I can compose my own title that encompasses a unique perspective.

Display an image of a scarecrow. Discuss students ideas about scarecrows, instructing students to consider questions such as:

  • What are they made out of? (straw, old clothes)
  • Who makes them? (farmers, people who grow crops)
  • Where are they placed? (in fields, on farms, in vegetable patches)
  • What is their purpose? (to scare away birds, to protect the crops from being eaten)

Compose a mind-map based on students ideas using a digital program such as Canva or by sketching one on a piece of butcher’s paper. Suggested responses might include: scary, watches over crops, scares away birds, made out of straw, wears old clothes.

Display the illustration that accompanies the poem The Sharecrow. Briefly outline the see-think-wonder strategy. Instruct students to discuss what they see (e.g. a black crow on the scarecrow’s shoulder) what it makes them think (e.g. that the crow isn’t scared of the scarecrow) and what it makes them wonder (e.g. why the crow isn’t scared of the scarecrow).

Place students in groups and provide them with post-it-notes. Instruct students to discuss what the image that accompanies The Sharecrow makes them see, think and wonder. Tell students to note their ideas on the post-it-notes. Set a timer for five to seven minutes (depending on what is most suitable for the students’ needs) and instruct students to note as many ideas as possible on the post-it-notes.

On butcher’s paper, create three columns. Label each column with one of the following: ‘see’, ‘think’, ‘wonder’. Display the paper at the front of the classroom.

Instruct students to place the post-it-notes composed with their groups in the appropriate column on the butcher’s paper.

Select a post-it-note from the butcher’s paper at random and discuss the ideas. Instruct other groups to share if they had a similar idea. Repeat this process with a number of the post it notes.

Most likely students will conclude that the scarecrow in the image doesn’t appear to be very scary and that the crows are not bothered by it, instead pecking at the straw inside the scarecrow.

Read the poem, The Sharecrow. Discuss how the ideas in the poem support students inferences about the accompanying illustration. Identify the key idea, that the narrator of the poem believes that there is enough food to share with the birds rather than that the scarecrow should be scaring them away.

Discuss how this approach by the narrator is a surprising and unusual take on scarecrows and the impact having a unique viewpoint has on readers. Inform students that often authors will look for unexpected ways to view things so they can engage readers and make their poems and stories interesting. Tell students that this is because writers strive to share their own unique interpretation of the world.

Inform students that they will be experimenting with creating a catchy title that outlines a unique viewpoint.

Discuss everyday objects people use for safety. Sample responses include:

  • A bike helmet
  • A life-ring
  • Fences
  • A climbing harness

Discuss the purpose of one of these objects, for example a bike helmet. Ensure students identify that it is used to protect people’s heads. Discuss unique interpretations surrounding its purpose, for example it might be used to keep people safe from overhanging branches as they walk down the street, or because it is aesthetically pleasing (looks cool). Select one of these ideas and choose a word to represent it, for example ‘looking cool’ which could be represented with the word ‘fashion’.

Refer students back to The Sharecrow, focusing on the catchy title. Emphasise the following:

  • that it is a play on the words ‘scarecrow’ and ‘share’
  • that it introduces the idea in the poem, that the scarecrow shares

Inform students that they will be composing a catchy title to introduce their idea about a bike helmet.

Select two words that best represents the unique perspective of the chosen item, for example ‘helmet’ and ‘fashion’. Use an online thesaurus to identify synonyms for the words ‘helmet’ (‘armour’, ‘hard hat’, ‘crash helmet’) and ‘fashion’ (‘fad’, ‘look’, ‘trend’).

Use the synonyms identified for ‘bike helmet’ and ‘fashion’ to experiment with ideas for a catchy title.

Sample responses include:

  • The Crash-fashion helmet
  • The hard-fad
  • Trend armour

Place students with a partner. Instruct them to repeat this process with another safety object of their choice. Tell them to discuss unique perspectives about this object before identifying synonyms for the key words. Instruct students to use these synonyms to compose their own catchy headline that sums up their perspective. Once complete, students should share their ideas with another pair.