Mentor texts are writings or pieces of writings that a reader reads and uses to change or improve their own writing. Reading and writing are reciprocal processes. One feeds into the other. Usually as one improves, so does the other.
So as I carefully choose mentor texts for my reading, I should also be thinking how these pieces of writing or texts can influence my young readers and their writing. I want them to look at the texts we use in reading, the words the author carefully chose, the style they use, the choice of punctuation and the meaning that it holds and encourage them to use these ideas in their own writing.
You’ve probably seen this picture of my Guided Reading Teacher’s Basket. If not, click the picture or click here to read about it. Someone had a question about mentor texts on Instagram and it got me to thinking about how to choose these texts.
I like for what I am teaching in reading to smoothly roll into writing also. I desire that my students read like a writer and write like a reader. We aren’t there yet. We are still learning. But it is a goal. And Ralph Fletcher says it so well that students need to read powerful stuff to write powerfully. And isn’t that what we are striving for? Like when students notice powerful words in their text and then use them or other powerful words in their writing? That is what I want them moving towards.
This book, Wolf, was in my basket in the picture above. It could be used for so many different reasons and that makes it a great mentor text just to keep on hand. A mentor text that contains many examples is an overall good choice to just keep in your basket. This one page shows examples of powerful word choice. Just above the circle, if you are having a student who just can’t seem to get in spacing which is not so much of a writing craft problem, but still needs to be addressed this book shows what that would look like if an author did it. Or it could be used for fluency- reading too fast.
Recently we have been learning about realistic fiction and how it is different than just fiction. They already know that Pete the Cat, Splat, Clifford, etc… cannot be real. So we contrasted those kinds of texts (snowmen coming to life!) to a story that could really happen. We have had a lot of fun with this and the students have learned a lot about realistic fiction elements and what we noticed that authors did in those kinds of stories. Then we applied this new knowledge to new stories we were reading and decided based on what other authors did if our new stories were fiction or realistic fiction.
Mentor texts can be used during reading and writing and should be. There are so many ways to use them too. Stick a few in your basket to use. It helps us “show” our students what good writing is and not just “tell” them.
Here’s hoping I go back to school tomorrow and not having another snow day!
Mrs. Anderson says
I love the Ralph Fletcher quote. I was recently at a workshop about teaching writing and this very topic came up.
Welcome To First Grade Room 5
I love that quote too, Connie! I am learning more and more about mentor texts too. Love it!
Miss Trayers says
Mentor texts are so important! Do you know of any good sites with lists of mentor texts for certain skills you are teaching?
Sent you an email about the list of mentor texts, Miss Trayers. I just googled it and came up with a whole bunch to choose from!
The Colorful Apple says
I completely agree with your first quote. I am constantly reading as a teacher and thinking of ways that I can incorporate something into my classroom.
The Colorful Apple
I like that Katie Wood Ray quote too, Sara. I just love how reading and writing fit right into each other!
I've got some mentor texts, but I know that there are so many more possibilities out there that I'm missing out on. It takes being purposeful.
Forever in First
I agree, Tammy, it does take being purposeful. I am learning and I like the possibilities of it all. I've got more work to do though!
Aylin Claahsen says
I love the quotes you included and I too want my students to notice the connection between reading and writing. A lot of times we run out of time just as my students are getting started responding to their reading with writing in our guided reading journals…so, since we got back from break I am making it a weekly goal to make sure that my students are getting a good amount of time for writing at least a few days a week after our guided reading. I know in the end they need that time for writing just as much as they need it for reading!
Learning to the Core
Aylin, I sadly have that same problem with time. I try to cram in all I can in 30 minutes. I need 45 optimally. It is so hard to get all the pieces in in that short amount of time. 🙁
Everyone deServes to Learn says
We had our ELA time cut by a third this year, so our ESL time was cut in half. I am finding it so hard to do the quality mentor text reading/writing that I did last year, if at all! I am hoping for more time next year to devote to it.
That makes it so tough, if your time has been cut. It was hard enough getting everything covered, I am sure it must be doubly so now. So sorry!
Jaime T. says
Every year we have the privilege of Ralph Fletcher visiting our school and talking to the kids. He is awesome. The teachers love sitting and eating lunch with him. He has such wonderful stories and is a great speaker!
That is quite the honor to have Ralph Fletcher come to your school, Jaime! That would be so great! Would love to be able to sit in on that!
You always have such great ideas and tips. I can tell you're a very thoughtful teacher. We use mentor texts, too. Katie Wood Ray introduced me to them. Have you read her stuff, too?
Happy Valentine's Day, Lori!
Barbara, you are so sweet! I like Katie Wood Ray too. I have been to a conference and was able to hear her speak!
Colleen Davisson says
One of my favorite resources for mentor texts is the Writing Fix website. I can always find something there to use or adapt.