Learning From Mistakes: Keena Ford

In this unit students explore the concepts of honesty, forgiveness, and friendship by reading Freckle Juice and Keena Ford and the Second-Grade Mix-Up.



Unit 5

2nd Grade

Unit Summary

In this unit, students learn about making mistakes, honesty, and the power of forgiveness by reading the core texts Freckle Juice and Keena Ford and the Second-Grade Mix-Up. In Freckle Juice, students explore what peer pressure is and the ways in which people can influence the decisions that we make. In Keena Ford and the Second-Grade Mix-Up, students explore what it means to be honest, especially when it may seem difficult to tell the truth. Students will also explore the value of friendship and how jealousy can sometimes come between friends. Andrew in Freckle Juice and Keena Ford are both highly relatable characters who are struggling with issues that are common in second grade. Therefore, these books will give students a chance to grapple with and explore the nuances of peer pressure, honesty, friendship, and jealousy in a non-threatening way.

For readers, this unit begins the transition from early chapter books that have an equal balance of words and pictures into chapter books where the picture support is removed. Over the course of the unit, students will work on using the strategies they have learned to help build stamina in order to read longer texts. Besides building stamina, there are a few main focuses of the unit. One is on deeply understanding characters, including character motivations, perspectives, and relationships. Keena Ford shares lots of insight into how and why she does the things that she does, which will make it easier for students to internalize what it means to notice and track characters over the course of a longer text. Another focus is on holding onto the plot across multiple chapters. This is the third chapter book that students will be reading, but the plot of this text is slightly more nuanced. Finally, students should continue to work on using context to figure out the meaning of unknown words and using the illustrations to deepen their understanding of the text.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials


These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.

Essential Questions

  • How do other people influence the decisions you make in your life?
  • What does it mean to forgive someone?
  • How can we learn from our mistakes?
  • What does it mean to be honest? Why is it important to show honesty in our everyday lives?

Foundational Skills

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Use proper intonation to show interpretation of the text.
  • Read with expression and volume to match interpretation of the passage.

As in the previous unit, the main focus of this unit is on reading with expression, particularly character dialogue, in order to show understanding of the text. In both core texts, the character dialogue reveals a lot about a character’s motivation, feelings, and perspective; therefore, a large focus of this unit should be on including opportunities for students to practice rereading dialogue with intonation, expression, and volume to match interpretation of the passage.

Writing Focus Areas

Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Write simple and complex sentences
  • Combine simple sentences to make longer, more interesting sentences.

At this point in the year, students have mastered writing complete sentences and have also learned how to use the conjunctions "because," "but," and "so" to make their sentences more interesting. In this unit, they will learn how to combine, or put together, two or more sentences so that their writing is clear and interesting for their readers.

Opinion Writing Focus Areas

  • Brainstorm using a Single Paragraph Outline
  • State an opinion and supply reasons that support that opinion
  • Choose reasons that are the most convincing

In this unit, students write several opinion letters, in an attempt to convince both Keena and a new second grader to take their advice. Students will start by brainstorming their opinions and developing strong details that support those opinions. They will then decide which of their details best supports their opinion, ordering them from most important to least important. As students learn to evaluate evidence, they will be better able to connect their opinion and reasons. 

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Build on others' talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others 
  • Ask for clarification and further explanation as needed about topics and texts under discussion 

In this unit, students work on using all of their strategies to participate in discourse. When building on others' talk in conversation, students may begin to critique and analyze the reasoning of others, the key work of Tier 3 of the three tiers of academic discourse. The focus areas and discourse in this unit align with Tier 2 and Tier 3 of the three tiers of academic discourse and all rows of the Academic Discourse Rubric (K-2). See the Teacher Tool on Tiers of Academic Discourse to help support students with the focus areas for this unit.



"clean slate" actually admit allowance apologize conflict conflicting complain desparate disappointed forgive freckles grateful instead jealousy mess mysterious permanent peer pressure recipe startled sternly wacky


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To see all the vocabulary for Unit 5, view our 2nd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Supporting All Students

In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.

Fishtank ELA Connections

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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