When to Use Mentor Texts: TEACHING WRITING WITH MENTOR TEXTS
If you have been following the blog series the past several days you have no doubt walked away with lots of ideas on how to seek, select, and stack a treasure trove of texts to engage and enlighten your writers.
Earlier in the week, Deb talked about immersing her young writers within a genre before beginning a unit of study. Letting students pore over new texts is a wonderful way to engage them and begin to entice their desire to try something new. Stacey talked about how to look for moves within a text and that this typically happens after several readings. Being new to third-grade this year I have used several new mentor texts that were handed to me in the fall. Some of the texts were new to me so I didn’t have multiple readings under my belt. As the year has progressed I have found my way through the stories. As an end of year project for my students, I plan on laying the books throughout the classroom that we have read together multiple times, allowing them to peruse them once again. With notebooks in hand, my students will be the miners of writing craft. I plan to ask students to find some of their favorite moves within the stories that these writers have created for us. What do you think third-grade writers need to know? Which authors and stories demonstrate these ideas? By the end of the project, I will have several noted examples to begin my year as I start again with students in the fall.
As wonderful as it is to have a hearty stack of mentors it is also important to know when to use these examples with students. Here are a few suggestions once you find yourself ready to dive in with mentor texts.
The mentor text I choose for a minilesson is often very specific to the skill I’m teaching within my lesson or unit we are currently studying. Whether it is a piece of my own writing, a student piece or a section from within a published text I try to make sure my lesson is balanced. I don’t want to spend too much time reading or reviewing the text and instead spend time teaching the skill that is demonstrated in the text.
When conferring with students, I try to keep my trusty mentor texts that pack the most punch within my conferring toolkit. Though I typically like to go into a conference knowing what I am going to teach an individual it can often change in the moment. When I have a mentor text that is flexible, I’m able to draw attention to this exemplar in multiple capacities.
Like my minilessons for whole group instruction, small group instruction can also be specific and prepared. Again, I want to balance my use of the example with the teaching. Utilizing a mentor text with a small group also allows for some inquiry into what or why I might be pointing out the move the author made within the text. Allowing some discussion within the group helps students to draw conclusions about their own writing and how they might emulate the same move within their piece.
We often find ourselves in meetings or data conferences with colleagues. Why not depart from the data for a moment to spend time sharing mentor texts with our fellow teachers? Sharing student samples and examples of our own writing that we have found elevating our work with writers is the kind of meeting you walk away from feeling motivated. I love being able to share a new picture book with my colleagues that they can tuck in their toolkit.
I hope you have enjoyed our series on mentor texts. Be sure to join us for our Twitter chat on Monday, May 8th at 8:30 EDT where we will continue the conversation!
Today is also your last chance to enter the giveaway for the new book titled Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts, written by TWT co-author Stacey Shubitz. See below for details!
- This giveaway is for five copies of Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts by Stacey Shubitz. Many thanks to Stenhouse Publishers for donating a copy for five different lucky readers.
- For a chance to win one copy of Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts, please leave a comment about this post on any post in the blog series, including this one, by Sunday, May 8th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Beth Moore will use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names she will announce in our blog series’ IN CASE YOU MISSED IT POST on Monday, May 9th.
- You may leave one comment on every post in our Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts blog series, which runs May 3rd – May 8th.
- Please be sure to leave a valid email address when you post your comment, so Beth can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, our contact at Stenhouse Publishers will ship your book out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the email field only.)
- Stenhouse will ship a print or ebook to winners in the United States and Canada. If you live outside of the U.S. or Canada and you win a copy of Craft Moves, then you’ll receive an ebook.
- If you are the winner of the book, Beth will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – CRAFT MOVES. Please respond to her e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.