In another post I talked about what mentor texts are: books that can be used in multiple subject areas to teach a variety of skills. Obviously you can use mentor texts in reading. One of the subject areas that you can use mentor texts in is writing. Here I’m going to talk about a variety of ways for using mentor texts in writing.
Writing Like An Author
One of the easiest ways to infuse a mentor text into writing is to study the author’s craft or as I explain it to my students: writing like an author. Mentor texts provide the perfect springboard into studying different writing types and styles.
Mentor texts provide an ideal example for students to study when learning about and trying a new writing style or focusing on a skill.
Descriptive language or dialogue? Take a look back at a Kevin Henkes book.
Figurative language? Bring back Jacqueline Woodson.
Mysteries? Pull out Chris Van Allsburg.
Highlight specific examples from the text for students to see and base their own writing on as you teach the skills you want students to use in their own writing: Writing like an author.
How frustrating is it when you model, model, model, and model some more a certain element of craft like text structures, text features or even bibliographies and they still don’t get it?!
Using mentor texts that have the elements you want students to use are a powerful example for students. No more telling your students that “my dad” is not a reliable source for a bibliography because all of the bibliographies in your mentor texts have books and websites listed.
Want students to know how to create a timeline? Pull out your mentor text! Looking for persuasive language and sentence structures for opinion writing? Pull out the mentor text.
Grammar and Word Study
Remember the old days of Daily Oral Language (DOL)? Well, you know what? In bilingual education, practices like DOL are seen as BEST practice. Don’t you just love how the pendulum swings back and forth in education?
In bilingual education, they call this practice dictado or dictation. The teacher reads a sentence or the students listen to a recording of the sentence and then write it using what they know about grammar and spelling.
Throughout the week you give lessons about certain spelling patterns or grammar points and students correct their attempts at writing the sentence throughout the week. All of this in daily 10-15 minute lessons.
If you want to see how I do this, you can sign up below to get my dictation / dictado planning guide. I also have some dictations planned out in Spanish if you are a bilingual teacher.
As you can see, mentor texts help by giving you time and if you have a really good story, the kids will love going back to them. The best part: you don’t have to read a new story every time you want to teach a new skill.
Whoa, Josh! Slow your roll, there! I love reading lot of books to my kids! Won’t this mean I’ll be reading less books?
NO WAY! Mentor texts help you get more time back by being more efficient with it.
Writing time is usually pretty limited, and you want students to be writing for most of it rather than listening to a book. Using a mentor text that your students already know lets you quickly show some examples with a familiar context and get your students writing.
Sign up below for your dictation / dictado planner and planning guide. Personal email usually works better than a school email. A lot of school email filters put the emails in your spam folder or filter them out completely.