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

My students were always shocked to learn that my favorite subject to teach wasn’t writing… it was social studies!  I was a history minor in college and almost considered getting my first master’s in secondary education so I could teach high school history.  As you know, I went into elementary education and the rest is, well, history!  That said, I’m always on the look out for picture books that present historical events in an intriguing way.

GandhiGandhi: A March to the Sea, written by Alice B. McGinty and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez tells the fascinating story of a 24-day march Mohandas Gandhi and 70 of his followers made to nonviolently protest the taxes the British government levied on salt. The March to the Sea took place in 1930 and was the beginning of of Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement, which inspired many peaceful protests and campaigns in modern times.  McGinty wrote about Gandhi’s March to the Sea in free verse.  From the very first page, I was drawn into the book:

Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.

Often teachers don’t have enough time for social studies or to focus on poetry.  Therefore, I thought combining social studies and free verse poetry could be an interesting way to examine history and do some content area writing during the final month of the school year.  (If your upper elementary students are anything like mine were, they will love experimenting with writing free verse.)  Granted, if you’re doing independent writing projects, not every student will be completing a free-verse poetry project or something steeped in history.  However, for students who are engaged in some kind of research-based social studies work, one way to have them publish their work could be in the form of a free verse poem.  And if that’s the case, then Gandhi: A March to the Sea is a fantastic mentor text!

 Take a look at two more page spreads from Gandhi: A March to the Sea:

Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.

Images courtesy of Two Lions, an imprint of Amazon Children’s Publishing.

Finally, there’s a Common Core Educators Guide for this book on Amazon.com.  When you go to the detail page for the Gandhi: A March to the Sea, scroll halfway down the page and you’ll see it.

Giveaway Information:

  • Many thanks to Two Lions for sponsoring this giveaway. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Gandhi: A March to the Sea by Alice B. McGinty and Thomas Gonzalez.
  • 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 about the ways you use poetry with your your students.
  • All comments left on or before Friday, June 14th 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 16th.
  • 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 Two Lions 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.  Thanks to everyone who left a comment on this post.  Isabel Showkatian’s commenter number was selected so she’ll receive a copy of Gandhi.  Here’s what she wrote:

My students have spent the year studying Virginia history and spent countless hours steeped in biographies about our founding fathers. As I read the sample pages of Gandhi: A March to the Sea I wondered what similarities and differences might be found between Gandhi as a founding father of modern India and George Washington, the found father of the United States. What similar qualities did these leaders share and how did these cope with conflicts and failures . . . this would lead to some insightful discussions and hopefully to free verse poems on these two men . . . alternatively I could see students writing reflection pieces on the concept of leadership, what makes a “man” great . . . as the year ends it’s a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of others and their own accomplishments.

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

23 thoughts on “Inspiring Independent Writing Project Mentor Text (Part 5 of 5) Leave a comment

  1. Last year I taught a personal narrative unit in which the students had to write about a time they made a difference in someone’s life. This would be a great mentor text for this, as well as for a poetry unit!

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  2. So easy for this generation of students to miss out on those whose work continues to contribute to peaceful protests to promote positive change. Many thanks for sharing this book! There are many possibilities ….

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  3. I had a huge a-ha moment as I was reading the description of this book in your blog post. This would be a great text to compare and contrast with our study of the Revolutionary War and the concern with British taxes on the colonies. I also teach poetry, and I encourage students to write in free verse so they can explore using rich language rather than focusing on simple rhymes. I love when I can use a book more than once during the school year, because “familiar texts” become so much more meaningful to learners.

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  4. I would use this book in my Children’s and Young Adult Literature class to teach my pre-service teachers the value of multicultural literature and poetry in classrooms for children of all ages.

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  5. I love mentor texts. Used Twilight Comes Twice by Ralph Fletcher and examined the poem in the book, then used it for inspiration, studying the rich figurative language too. Students wrote their own poems about their favorite time of the day. Thanks to the mentor text and close examination of the author’s craft, the student writing was amazing. I would love to do something similar with this book. It is on my “to get” list, but free is always better 🙂

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  6. The pages I read were beautiful! I love this format- I would like to incorporate it so the kids will think more about what they are saying, how they are saying it, and why they are saying it. I get a lot of copying from their sources (with random quotation marks!), so this could be a wonderful way to have them really stop and think about what they are learning about.

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  7. This book is amazing! I am actually working right now on a demo for our local writing project’s summer institute where the end product is a research poem over a famous person who has made a mark on history. This book would make a great addition to my mentor text collection for this project.

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  8. My students have spent the year studying Virginia history and spent countless hours steeped in biographies about our founding fathers. As I read the sample pages of Gandhi: A March to the Sea I wondered what similarities and differences might be found between Gandhi as a founding father of modern India and George Washington, the found father of the United States. What similar qualities did these leaders share and how did these cope with conflicts and failures . . . this would lead to some insightful discussions and hopefully to free verse poems on these two men . . . alternatively I could see students writing reflection pieces on the concept of leadership, what makes a “man” great . . . as the year ends it’s a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of others and their own accomplishments.

    Like

  9. I love the idea of content learning through poetry. I have used it using free verse poetry incorporating space information. The students loved it!

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  10. Amazing book and perfect to put social studies and poetry together. I will be working with small groups of advanced learners next year. What a great kick off to a research and writing project. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Will have a tough class next year and this would be a perfect book – lots of moral lessons in addition to the writing opportunities.

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  12. I co-teacher and I are putting together a list of mentor texts to support instruction in content reading. What a wonderful example. It would be a great additon to our library. As always, thanks for sharing this information.

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  13. Last year I taught social studies to the fifth grade. I read the book The Story of Salt and the kids were fascinated by it. In the book it mentioned gandhi’s salt protest. This would be a wonderful book to go along with our discussion and perhaps inspire students to combine free verse with social studies.

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  14. This is a beautiful book on a subject that is not often covered in school. One of my summer goals is to find more mentor texts for writing projects. This is a great find. Thanks!

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  15. I am so excited about this book. I’ve always felt that we need to combine subjects, as there just isn’t enough time. But this takes it to a new art form… so beautiful, so inspirational, and takes a dry (to the kids) event from long ago and brings to them the passion and longing and spirit of the people. Thank you for the recommendation.

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