writing workshop

Mentor Text Thursday: Editorials.

This week I thought it would be fun to focus on some mentors of editorials.  This genre, which is typical for middle and high school writers, is among my favorite to teach.  The primary reason it is my favorite?  Because of these outstanding editorialists!

(Note:  I try to pull articles that represent both sides of current issues in the world.  In this way we can focus on the craft and development of editorials as opposed to the political stances.)

Mitch Albom — His website is exquisite.  You may have to register in order to access the links  (but it’s free and fast!).

Bill O’Reilly — With his strong word choice and well-structured articles, there are always a number of craft moves students see in his writing.  Click here for his archives.

Leanard Pitts Jr. — Way back in 2000, during my rookie year of teaching, Katie Wood Ray introduced me to the idea of using mentor texts, and in the same day, shared this editorialist for the Miami Herald as one of her favorites.  He has refined the craft of writing editorials.  Every time I read his work, I learn more about the craft of this genre.  Check out his recent articles, as well as his archives here.

Rick Reilly — I love his poignant articles, as well as his humor.  I am always impressed by the way he can be going along in a light-hearted manner and then turn the tables and make a serious point.  It’s like a left-hook that comes out of no where, hits you hard, and leaves a mark, forever changing the reader. 

Check out his articles from Sports Illustrated and ESPN.  You’ll have more mentor text possibilities than you can use.

Andy Rooney — When my students had trouble writing an ending to their editorials, we turned to Andy Rooney.  I would also think there could be possibility for using Andy Rooney as a mentor to turning an editorial into a speech. 

Of course, the local newspaper is also an excellent source of editorials.  Since many of the issues discussed are community issues, students often have a strong connection.  Several years ago there was a series of editorials about building a skate park.  Whenever a “Skate Park” article appeared on our board, students hovered around it.  They were interested in the issue and happily read the articles.  In fact, many submitted editorials to the local paper on this issue. 

Which is the other reason this genre is my favorite to teach — often they are easily published outside the classroom walls.  Simply submit to the “Letter to the Editor” feature in local newspapers and they are almost always published!

We’d love to hear your favorite mentors of editorials.  Please share in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Mentor Text Thursday: Editorials.

  1. I am also interested in using editorials for my 3rd graders. I find it hard to find text that is authentic and appealing to this age group. I would love to hear some ideas for using appropriate editorials for this age group.


  2. I taught this genre a few years ago with my grade 3 and 4 students. There was a local issue that they could all by into: a propsed by-law requiring cats to be licensed. It was all over the paper for weeks, so we read lots of articles and opinions, then took a tour of the newspaper office and submitted our own letters to the editor. It was a great experience, but one that I haven’t replicated simply because there hasn’t been an appropriate issue. This summer there has been a lot of talk about using pesticides on public property. I think this will be an issue we will explore and perhaps write our own letters to the editor. I suppose that is one of the important things to consider: is there an issue that is appropriate/appealing for my students to write about?

    I think those of us in small towns may even have a bit of an advantage because the local papers tend to be easier for younger students to manage (physically, and in regards to the content!)


  3. Mitch Albom and Leonard Pitts are among my favorites mentors for students when writing editorials.

    Try Dave Barry. His editorials are very humorous! These are great mentor texts for adult staff development.

    Some examples: http://www.miamiherald.com/living/columnists/dave-barry/story/612227.html


    Also, Leonard Pitts wrote a piece called “Talkin’ Bout My Girl,” which is one of my favorites to use for staff development. It is a great example of writing and always elicits some tears.

    Thanks for this post!


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