Inspiring Independent Writing Project Mentor Text (Part 3 of 5)

look upIf you’re planning to launch independent writing projects in your class during the final weeks of school, then you’ll most likely have several students who might want to write a book about a topic of expertise.  Therefore, it might be nice to have a few new mentor texts on hand that you didn’t use when you taught all-about book writing earlier in the year.  (Please know that I think revisiting the mentor texts your students are familiar with is important! However, if you’re like me, you probably like sharing fresh mentor texts with students to keep your teaching fresh.)

Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard, written and illustrated by Annette LeBlanc Cate, is about a topic I know very little about.  However, I was able to learn so much from this 54-page informational text that taught me about all aspects of bird watching in a FUN way.   This book is jam-packed with information, which would make it a gem to use in a nonfiction reading unit when you are teaching students how to navigate informational texts.  But by this point in the year, you’ve already taught your students how to do that work.  Therefore, I envision using excerpts from Look Up! in strategy lessons if you’re trying to lift the level of your students’ explanatory writing.

This book can be used to teach writers to:

  • choose a topic on which they’re passionate, even if they’re not an expert (Cate reveals she came to bird-watching by way of keeping a nature sketchbook. She’s not a professor of ornithology — just a bird lover!)
  • create a hybrid text: an informational book with a comic book feel
  • write using a conversational tone of voice
  • categorize information around topics
  • develop topics using a variety of details
  • infuse accurate hand-drawn charts and maps into a book
  • select words that are specific to the topic
  • define words in context
  • embed humor into an informational text (A lot of the humor in this book comes from the birds whose say funny things in speech bubbles.)
  • include nonfiction features into an all-about book (e.g., table of contents, headings, maps/charts, bibliography, index)

 Take a look at some page spreads from Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard:

Click on the image to enlarge.

Click on the image to enlarge.

LOOK UP!. Copyright © 2013 by Annette LeBlanc Cate. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Giveaway Information:

  • Many thanks to Candlewick Press for sponsoring this giveaway. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard written and illustrated by Annette LeBlanc Cate.
  • To enter for a chance to win a copy please leave a comment on this post about independent writing projects, how you’d use this book in your classroom, or am embarrassing story from your childhood that you could share with your students.All comments left on or before Friday, May 31st, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. EDT will be entered into a random drawing using a random number generator the following day. I will announce the winners’ names at the bottom of this post no later than Sunday, June 2nd.
    • NOTE: The book can be shipped to anyone who has a U.S.A. mailing address.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, my contact at Candlewick will ship the book out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you only leave it in the e-mail field.)

Comments are now closed on this post.

Thank you to everyone who left a comment about Look Up!.  Bernadette’s commenter number was selected so she will receive a copy of this book.  Here’s what she wrote:

Thank you for this excellent recommendation. I love all the tips you give. I do love returning to my mentor texts, but keeping enthusiasm and Interest high with fresh new texts is so important!
An embarrassing story I share with my students is how I once received an F+ as a grade on a math test.I was unable to properly answer a complicated question in Calculus, (I had NO idea how to even attempt it) so I did my best to use my artistic talents to do a 3-D drawing of the figure from the problem. While I’m not proud of my F, I am proud of my +. I share the story to encourage my student to always try, no matter what, and to emphasize that we are talentedin different ways. I hopeit encourages them to not give up, and to recognize we are all talented in different ways.