Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mentor Texts To Guide Writing

"With you (the teacher) as a guide, and literature as the landscape, you can open young writers eyes to the full range of possibilities before them." 

Ralph Fletcher and Joanne Portalupi, Writing Workshop- The Essential Guide

Thinking about the topic of mentors that Margaret Simon asked DigiLit Sunday to write on recalls the #TMchat that Connie Hamilton invited me to moderate. My topic was Mentor TextsThe questions that I posed to the educators who joined in on Twitter are below. They are identified with the letter Q and the number of the question following. My answers that I tweeted out during the chat are identified as A with the number of the question following.

Q1 What is a mentor text and how do you select one?

A1 Mentor text is written anchor text to use as a model for studying author's craft. It's the mirror to reflect on craft while conveying meaning.
A1B: Select a mentor text that provides Ss with an appropriate lens to craft their own piece. Voice matters. #stuvoice
Q2 How does the use of mentor text affect your teaching of reading and writing?

A2: Mentor texts provide the lens for students to model craft moves-students become the junior craftsmen honing their own writing.

Q3 How does a mentor text help students learn to read like a writer?

A3 Read like a writer to learn about writing craft: choices made by authors can be borrowed by students to improve their writing.

Q4 As teachers of writing, how does careful attention to craft work, take students deeper into text?

A4 Attention to author's craft allows students to analyze text & its impact on the message conveyed. Read with "pencil in hand" for a deeper look.
Q5 Why is it important to become a guide to effective writing, rather than a sage on the stage?

A5: Sages direct. Guides facilitate & support student writing through conferencing & the gradual release of responsibility model.
Q6 Share a mentor text you like and how you use it to help students become writers.

I used "Fog" by C. Sandburg with young writers: read aloud, sketch it out, shared writing to student creation. My piece is at
Q7 List a title of a professional book/trade book, website, or educational blogger to create a resource guide on mentor text. 

Resources on Mentor Text that I collected can be found at

Questions to Consider When Selecting a Mentor Text
1. Does the selected text provide examples of the kind of writing you want from your students?

2. Is the mentor text you are using worthy of multiple reads?

3. Can the mentor text be revisited multiple times for different purposes?

4. Do you have a variety of genres in your collection for student use and do they address diversity? 

5. Is the mentor text one that students can learn from and transfer to their own writing?

Using mentor texts is an engaging way to entice your students to write like real authors. Have students reflect on the craft moves they see and emulate them in their own writing. Picture books as mentor texts can be your faithful companions on the journey to helping your students become lifelong writers.

You access Margaret Simon's site here to read what my #DigiLitSunday colleagues are writing on the topic of Mentors.

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