Oral Mentor Texts + a Giveaway!

Storytelling in the classroom is a powerful tool when helping students learn to take an idea and use story language. Assuming that children understand the elements of a story is assuming too much. These elements must be taught if they are meant to be used in the writing process.

oral mentor texts

These are just a few of the main ideas from the book, Oral Mentor Texts, by Connie Dierking and Sherra Jones. What I love about this book is there is a focus on talking and oral storytelling. They encourage teachers to create classroom oral stories. Not only do these stories become a go to for the class as a mentor text they also don’t require any materials. You can create an oral story and walk around while conferring with that mentor text right in your head and the heads of your students. Perfect!

Take it a step further and you can create a storyboard of your classroom story for students to use when retelling. Sequencing and story elements become a focus for children and their understanding of story language.

Telling stories is contagious; the more students do it, the better they get at it. And the better they get at it, the more they want to do it. The payoff? Good storytellers become good story writers.

I’ve been talking for the past two weeks about visualizing a story and creating that story on paper. The idea of oral storytelling as a class opens the door to shared visualization and scaffolding students toward student visualization of an idea.

The beauty of this scenario is that every student experiences a story being born, a process that will support each of them every day in writing workshop when they are asked to find an incident in their life and recreate the sequence of events as a story. Students see that stories can be found anywhere. They have a model for how to retell a story. The class story is a solid introduction.

This book goes into much more detail about how to encourage key elements of a great story through sections on strong leads, endings, sentence structure, alliteration, inserting facts and poetry as well as an even more extensive list of writer’s craft.

In my classroom I decided to take some of these ideas and put them into action. The first few weeks of school we were visited by a guest, a fly. Here is our classroom oral story:

Guess what, we have a class pet and his name is Mr. Fly. He keeps buzzing all around our heads and he is very annoying. I wish he would find the door and just leave, but he refuses. Instead he just keeps buzzing and buzzing by our ears. Mr. Fly likes it here. I guess he can stay, at least for now!

We retold and retold the story, talking about Mr. Fly and his annoying antics. We would tell the story during free moments of our day and sometimes prior to workshop. Then, I took the story and created pictures for students to play with during our “Open Choice” playtime.

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Students manipulated the pictures to put them in order and retell the funny story of Mr. Fly.

One step further, I created a class book with students helping create the illustrations.

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We now have the oral story in “our back pockets” for any time we want to tell it, we have the story pictures and a class book which has been a great model for making books during our workshop time. Students have retold the story to their families and during parent teacher conferences I even had a parent say, “Oh, this must be Mr. Fly,” as he flew around our heads. This story is embedded in my students. They hear a strong lead and an ending to a story. They hear the story language and vocabulary like “annoying” and “refuses.” They have learned about ending marks and spaces. This story has come full circle for my students. It began just as they do in their writing and ended with a beautiful product. From talking, to drawing to writing and creating another mentor text for my students both in book form and oral story form.

If you would like a copy of Oral Mentor Texts, please see the details below!


  • This giveaway is for a copy of Oral Mentor Texts. Many thanks to Connie Dierking and Heinemann for donating a copy for one reader.
  • For a chance to win this copy of Oral Mentor Texts, please leave a comment about this post by Thursday, October 30th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose name I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Sunday, November 2nd.
  • 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 will ship your book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)

AND the winner is….

Caroline Peevy and Jill have been chosen using a random number generator matched to their comment number! Each will receive a copy of Oral Mentor Texts from Heinemann who graciously offered to do TWO giveaways!