There are all kinds of buzz words in education, aren’t there? I mean, you hear about differentiation, rigorous learning, best practice, anchor charts, balanced literacy, mentor texts, collaborative learning, models, word walls, and so much more. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with what exactly it all means. Let’s dig a little deeper into mentor texts and how they can be used to truly enhance reading and writing in your classroom.
I cannot tell you how many teachers, from various grade levels, have told me that they don’t feel like they are good writing teachers because they don’t feel like they are good writers themselves. I get it! Not everyone enjoys curling up with a journal and getting lost in thought for hours on end. But that does not mean you are not a good writer, nor does it mean that you are not a good writing teacher! There are amazing writers out there who have already done the work of creating GREAT examples of writing and various writing skills for you! Hallelujah!
So…what exactly IS a mentor text? And why should we use it to support writing in the classroom?
Mentor texts are written pieces that serve as powerful examples of good writing for your students. Teachers select texts, read them to the students or have the students read them, and then use the texts to study and reinforce a specific skill the author achieved. You are the one who selects the text, based on the reading/writing skills that you need to teach during your Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop mini-lessons.
Now, before you go and just grab a book off of the shelf, there are a few things to consider:
LOVE IT- you have to love it! If you don’t love it, lose it! This also needs to be a text that you can see yourself returning to over and over again for a variety of reasons.
Now, let’s think about how Mentor Texts fit into our classroom instruction:
Before using a mentor text for a specific look at Author’s Craft, make sure your students are familiar with the skill (craft) that you are trying to point out in this chosen text. For example, your students will struggle to understand how the author’s use of sensory details helps them to visualize the setting if they are not familiar with what sensory details actually are. So, it needs to be defined and discussed before leading students into the text. We typically will do this work in our Reader’s Workshop in Shared Reading opportunities.
So, where do you even START to look for quality texts that could serve as mentor texts?? SURPRISE!
Here is a basic list of just a few books that serve as great mentor texts for narrative writing! J
Also included in this post is a form that could be used as an anchor chart and a potential record of mentor text work for students in their Reader’s Notebooks!
It may look like this in your classroom…
Happy reading AND happy writing!