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Free Unit for Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany Jackson

Updated: 4 days ago

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If you have not read Monday's Not Coming yet, drop everything you are doing and go read it. This book was my favorite of the year when I read it in 2019 and it is STILL way up there at the top 5 years later. I read about a book a week, so that is really saying something. This blog post features a free unit for Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson.

Monday's Not Coming is about a girl, Claudia, whose best friend, Monday, goes missing. Claudia excitedly waits for her best friend on the first day of 8th grade, only for Monday never to appear. Claudia asks everyone she knows but doesn't feel anyone cares. When Monday never shows up, even weeks into the school year, Claudia determines that it is going to have to be she who finds Monday. The story progresses from there in a series of flashbacks between the present and the past.

When I finished this book, I knew I wanted to teach it in school one day. It's a long book, though, so I needed to wait for a class of kids who COULD read but mostly found books boring. In 2021, I finally got a class of juniors that I thought would fit the bill. Even though the book took us 3/4's of the year to get through, the kids said they enjoyed it. The Monday's Not Coming unit below was for this class, which was a group of self-contained 11 English students. Most were willing readers, but somewhere in the 850 (3rd-5th grade) range. The class was also a mix of latino males & females, ED students (emotionally disabled students) , one autistic student, and many students with ADD (attention deficit disorder). They needed a high volume of reading practice and, as a class, wanted to read a mystery. I thought Monday's Not Coming would work for them. Please enjoy this free unit for Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson.

Monday's Not Coming Free Unit

Lexile: 620

Although the Lexile is 620, this is an intimidating read for kids because of the structure (flashbacks) and the high volume of pages.

Skill Objectives:

  • Students will be able to identify a complex story structure.

  • Students will be able to identify a flashback

Important Topics:

  • Gentrification

  • Missing children

  • Mental health

Day 1

The purpose of today's lesson was to introduce the book, author, and some of the bigger themes.


 After the video, I introduced some of the bigger themes, one of them being missing kids.

Introduce some of the bigger themes: 

We then very briefly went over the elements of a mystery.

Mini Lesson:Elements of a mystery

  • Go over elements of a mystery verbally. Ask kids what they know about mysteries and invoke Scooby Doo if needed.


  • Give out "September" Vocabulary Handout and start working through it. The handout has vocabulary words that I picked out for the "September" chapter. Most words have the sentence from the text, a definition, and then a spot for the kids to draw a visual.

Reading Time

To "read" the text, I would let kids listen to the audiobook and follow along. If they didn't want to listen with the class, they could go out in the hall and read (but most of them preferred to listen with the class). I really liked the recording, which was by Broadway actress Imani Parks.

Before we started the book, though, I always went through my expectations as to what they could and could not do while listening.

Their options were to

  • Stare 

  • Follow along with book 

  • Puzzle 

  • draw 

Once everyone was clear on expectations, I played the first chunk of the book as a teaser.


  • Listen to pages 1-12 

  • Ask questions 

  • Make predictions 

  • Characterize Claudia

  • Answer the Monday's Not Coming opening questions

Day 2

Vocabulary (Continued...)

Color Analysis Journal 

  • Color symbolism Chart (I got this information from a website a few years ago but didn't write down the site. Tried to find it again but was unsuccessful.)

  • Color experiment # 1: I will give you a blank sheet of paper. I want you to scribble or draw using the pink crayon. Around your pink scribble/drawing, write down 10 ideas/emotions/memories/things that come to mind when you see the color pink. 

Journal: What words did you come up with around your square?

Attempt 1 or both of the following questions (100-150 words): 

  • Tiffany Jackson uses color throughout the story. Why do you think the author made "pink" the dominant color in the opening of the story? On the first page she writes "Like the color pink, somebody always sees the story different. Some see rose and magenta, and others see coral and salmon. When at the end of the day, it's just regular old pink." (page 7)

  • Why did Jackson connect the color pink to Monday? Jackson writes "Monday had the same [backpack] except in pink, her favorite color" (page 8). Jackson also writes, when Claudia is talking about her nails "Here' I announced, raising my hand and wiggling my fingers so the light would catch off my new manicure, lilac with pink metallic stripes. I added the pink for Monday'" (page 13). 

Monday's Not Coming Reading Time

Days 3 & 4

Vocabulary (Continued...)

Literary Analysis

  • What is this literary device:

  • Define "flashback"

  • In fiction, a flashback is a scene that takes place before a story begins. Flashbacks interrupt the chronological order of the main narrative to take a reader back in time to the past events in a character's life.

  • Why do authors/writers/creators use them? 

  • to fill in details about a character's life 

  • to help readers better understand present-day elements in the story or learn more about a character.

Monday's Not Coming

Day 5


  • Write about this photo and use all ten of your vocabulary words. 

  • We will come around and help you use the words correctly. 

  • Next class you will have a quiz where you will plug the word into a sentence from a word box. 

Prereading: Color journal: 

  • Color experiment # 2: I will give you a blank sheet of paper. I want you to scribble or draw using the red crayon and then around the color block, I want you to write down 10 ideas/emotions/memories/things that come to mind when you see the color red.

Journal: Attempt 1 or both of the following questions (100-150 words): 

  • What words did you come up with around your square? What do you think of when you see or think of the color red?

  • Tiffany Jackson (the author) connected the color pink to Monday, but Claudia (the main character) connects her to the color red. Why do you think this is?

  • Share your ideas out with the person sitting next to you. 

Day 6

Because it takes so long to get through a book with my self-contained students, I give them smaller quizzes throughout the unit instead of one big test at the end. This is my Monday's Not Coming Unit Test (paid product), and I break this up into smaller quizzes.

Reading Quiz:

For today's reading, I really wanted the students to focus on color analysis, so I asked the students to pay attention to moments in the story that correlated to feelings/words connected to the color "red." To help my students out with this, I paused the audiobook after certain pages and prompted them to fill in a row of the reading guide (below). I tried to get them through a big chunk of the book today.

-Monday's Not Coming Reading Time (listen to audiobook): 

  • Introduce the focus: Look for moments specifically about Monday or in general that connect to the ideas and feelings associated with the color red. 

  • Listen to pages 41-53

  • Review new characters (Ms. Valente, etc.)

  • Listen to pages 54-69

  • Listen to 70-85

  • 86-91

Day 7

"September" Vocabulary Quiz

September Vocabulary Quiz for Monday's Not Coming
September Vocabulary Quiz for Monday's Not Coming

Once kids completed the vocabulary quiz, I introduced the October vocabulary words by having them look up a Google image for each word. Always proceed with caution with this activity. (ie: Use with older kids only), as you never really know what will pop up in the Google search.

-Continue with "October" Chapter

Monday's Not Coming Reading Time (listen to audiobook): 

  • Listen to pages 41-53

  • Review new characters (Ms. Valente, etc.)

  • Listen to pages 54-69

  • Listen to 70-85

  • Listen to 86-91

Days 8 & 9


-Finish "October" Chapter

Monday's Not Coming Reading Time (listen to audiobook): 

  • Listen to pages 41-53

  • Review new characters (Ms. Valente, etc.)

  • Listen to pages 54-69

  • Listen to 70-85

  • Listen to 86-91

Homework: Study/reread "October" chapter in preparation for a reading quiz.

Day 10


Monday's Not Coming

  • October reading quiz

"November" Color Journal

  Color journal:

  • Write down 10 ideas/emotions/memories/things that come to mind when you see the color yellow.

THEN, think about: 

  • Claudia connects the color yellow to Mrs. Charles. Why do you think she did this?

Once everyone is done, see if some students would be willing to share an idea.

Homework: Study for "October" vocabulary quiz.

Day 11

Vocabulary: Monday's Not Coming "October" Vocabulary Quiz

Background Building

Before starting the next section of Monday's Not Coming, we talked about what the phrase "red flags" means. We looked over this handout from the Mayo Clinic about child abuse symptoms. I then directed kids to look for "red flags" while we were reading and had them fill in this "Red Flags Tracking Chart." I used this chart to get through the next few book sections.

Monday's Not Coming Reading Time

Day 12+

Vocabulary: Introduce November vocabulary words. Have students fill in the "November Vocabulary Graphic Organizer"

At this point, it was taking me too long to get through the book, so we started listening in big chunks while kids filled in the "Red Flags Tracking Chart." At one point I asked kids to vote on whether or not they wanted to abandon the book but they wanted to keep going.

Monday's Not Coming Reading Time

Monday's Not Coming Research Paper

Days 20-25

To wrap up the unit, I had students complete a research paper related to a topic they came across in Monday's Not Coming.

Here is the assignment sheet that I gave the students: Monday's Not Coming Research Paper Assignment Sheet

I walked students through each step of the process, listed below:

  1. Ask students to brainstorm topics that they came across in Monday's Not Coming. As kids are throwing out ideas, write them down on a class Google doc so that kids can access them later. These were topics that my students came up with.

2. Have students fill in this "Paper topic and Research" handout.

3. Go through everyone's paper ideas as a class and make sure they are arguable. This was a really hard step for everyone, so we took a while to workshop these. I posted a Google Doc and had everyone fill in a thesis statement. I posted my thesis statement as an example and then had kids highlight their subtopics in different colors. If a kid did not have three subtopics, we brainstormed as a class and helped them come up with some.

4. Have students outline their paper in this graphic organizer: Monday's Not Coming Persuasive Research Paper Outline.

This paper was a very hard task for my students so I modeled almost everything first before asking them to do it. Here is an outline filled in with my examples.

Once students had their outlines filled in, I had to model how to turn the outlines into an essay. Although this is intuitive for a lot of kids, my students needed to be shown how to do that.

This is the end of my free unit Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. This is one of my favorite books, and I hope you get the chance to read & teach it, as well.

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