Friday, September 20, 2013

Mentor Texts... Are they worth the time?

Mentor texts.
     I have tried, and tried to make them work for me. I have a shelf of picture books. I have several professional texts that explain all about how to use mentor texts. I have an extensive classroom library from which I can pull many popular books from which to use.

     It just wasn't fitting into my day or my lessons. I was unsure of how to make it work. I wanted it to be a part of this year's writing lessons.

     Que the lights! (Yes, those bulbs and candles that burst in to life above our heads...)

     Our school's new writing program! WAHOO! Not only  is this writing program pretty extensive, it has mentor texts embedded into the lessons. It is a dream come true.

     Take for example, my lesson with my 4th grade writing class on Wednesday. I used the book Bobby vs. Girls.


Back Story:
We have been working on revising in class, and we read  a section from the book and talked about which of the 6+1 traits could be found in it. (We have been learning that the 5 revision traits are: Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, and Sentence Fluency.)

Back to the Present:
I read a section from the book and then put a copy of a page under the document camera. The students then called out traits that stood out to them as really great examples. This was a great lesson and I really enjoyed using the mentor text. This is actually the third mentor text I have used this year, but the first one where the students were actually engaged! SCORE!

     Then, in the afternoon, I had my 5th grade writing class. The lesson called for the book Bud, Not Buddy to be the spotlight text! (Can I just tell you that this is an EXCELLENT book!) 


     I read several pages from the book while the students listened for good examples of the five revision traits. I again put a copy of several pages under the document camera and we talked about them as a class. I was amazed at how engaged the students were with the text. In fact, they got mad when I told them we wouldn't be reading the rest of the book. (Two students came to class yesterday with a copy of the book and were very into reading it! A great side-effect of mentor texts.) 

     The program then had the students do a short writing assignment to practice the skills we had been reviewing all week.

     So, what is the point of this posting? 

Mentor texts are TOTALLY worth the time. 
Do it. 
Do it today. 
Take the book you are reading aloud to your class or take a book off the shelf and find a few pages that students can look over and discuss. Authentic text experiences are vital to students building writing skills.

Thanks for stopping by. Have an amazing day... and USE MENTOR TEXTS!
-Mr. Hughes

Join Me Here:


  1. Love it. I'll be going through my Patricia Polacco books for the next step in our personal narratives unit. She's always been my go to for mentor texts.

    However I'm liking your examples now. Having a boy as the main character and a chapter book as opposed to a picture book will appeal to a different group of kids than Polacco. You've inspired me to branch out!

    1. Yea! I am so pleased to hear that Amber! I do agree that both picture AND chapter books need to be mentor texts. Good luck as you branch out! :)

  2. I use Mentor texts every day in to model my writing strategies during Writer's Workshop and during my Daily 5/CAFE Reader's Workshop! I often switch between chapter books and picture books as my mentor text too.

    Sweet Rhyme – Pure Reason
    Follow my blog with Bloglovin

    1. Thank you for sharing how you use mentor texts. I really appreciate you stopping by!

  3. I'm a believer too! I'm also a believer in creating our OWN mentor texts...I write example texts (with help from my class) on every genre we study...we refer back to THOSE mentor texts too!

    1. That is great! Thank you for sharing that idea. Awesome!

  4. Just wondering what your schools new writing is? We have the new writing program from Lucy Caukins. I have not seen anything about Mentor texts in it.
    thank you for sharing this idea. I am excited to start it.

    1. Thanks for your comment. We are using Write Traits from Scholastic. It is written by Ruth Culham. It doesn't have a strong grammar component, but I love the writing it covers. It goes over all three modes of writing twice during the year with a huge focus on the traits. It says it is CCSS aligned, but I can't really speak to that as of yet.

      I hope this help- thanks again for stopping by and good luck with your mentor texts. I am confident that you will LOVE it!

  5. The civil engineering personal statement have inspired me to branch out. I was amazed at how engaged the students were with the text.


Thank you for your comment! We appreciate your input!

-All Things Upper Elementary

Blogging tips