Using Mentor Texts

I first heard the idea of using mentor texts in a workshop. It seemed like such a great idea, I pursued it further and found some books on the subject- my favorites are Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-6 and Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-8, both by Lynne R. Dorfman and Rose Cappelli.  When I joined the Slice of Life Challenge last March, Ruth said in the first comment I received, “And just think, after this month, you’ll have 31 possibilities to use as mentor texts with your students.” Mentor texts from literature  inspire students to stretch their imaginations, expand their vocabularies, and try new things in writing. Observing their teacher’s writing process and hearing their teacher’s writing gives an extra boost- the students love to get to know their teacher, to see on the spot how to tackle a writing challenge, and they especially love getting an opportunity to offer suggestions to the teacher. 

Last Tuesday I shared “A List of Ten About My Grandad” that I used along with passages from Because of Winn Dixie to guide students in writing about a person who is important to them. Today I will share a few of the funny…revealing…great lines from their lists:

My dad has a bald spot on his head.

My brother’s name is Marciallion but we all call him Greedy. Why? I don’t know why we call him Greedy. I was born saying Greedy.

My mom likes to travel. She likes to go to the store.

My mom is very strong. She can beat anybody in a arm wrestle.

My mom gives us a roof over our head, love in our hearts, and cooks good chicken.

My cousin is very skinny. He is very light. He is as light as a mouse.

My sister Olivia looks so sweet and cuddly but she’s a BIG MEANIE!

Olivia got a sink sprayer and sprayed all over the kitchen floor. There was 3 inches of water. She could have went swimming.

One time Olivia got my cat and put her in the toilet.

Sometimes Olivia can be a big handful.

When my mama laughs she makes me laugh.

My mom spoils my brother.

My sister is adorable and she uses it to cuddle with my mom. People say she’s an angel but she can be bad sometimes. Don’t be fooled by her cuteness she can be mean.

My mom loves roses, red ones. She gets happy when my dad brings her red roses.

My mom is a good mom!

As Art Linkletter used to say, “Kids say the darndest things!” Turns out, they write them, too. Lucky us, as teachers we get to be their first readers.

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12 Responses to Using Mentor Texts

  1. Donna Smith says:

    Those were great. I especially liked “My mom likes to travel. She likes to go to the store.”
    We certainly are privileged to be their first readers!

  2. elsie says:

    Your students have taken your instruction to heart and they have created some interesting details. I think I would like to meet this Olivia.

  3. showgem says:

    That was heartwarming. Every mom will laugh about liking to travel to the store.

  4. newtreemom says:

    I hope to meet her at one of our family movie nights…I have a suspicion she’s kind of like the spirited sis who wrote about her.

  5. What wonderful “leads” you have shared. They inspire me!

  6. JenniferM says:

    hahaha, those are so sweet! I love the details some of them included! I love how sharing writing can be such a powerful way to connect with students: this is one of the things I’m really looking forward to in my new ELL position!

  7. Such fun to read these. I’m glad to hear that you wrote with them. I bet they loved what you wrote too. Love the ‘cooks good chicken’. That child has good priorities!

  8. I love reading what your students have written – something I don’t get to do with my preschool students. Although, they do say things kind of like what you’ve recorded here.

  9. luckygurl says:

    So AWESOME. “I was born saying Greedy.” Love it!

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