Saturday, January 28, 2017

Write On! Mentor Text Independence!

Most of us use children's books as writing mentors.  These texts serve as models of what great writing looks like while also inspiring and motivating students. Mentor texts can be identified for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes we want to show the structure of a story.  Sometimes we want to introduce a new genre.  Other times we want to focus on a a very specific writing trait.  Whatever the reason, mentor texts are great tools for the classroom.

My classroom display of mentor texts.

In the past, I have always been the one who identified the mentor texts and shared them with students.  After all, I am the teacher so shouldn't I be doing all the teaching?  This is the way it is for most classrooms, I would assume.  As teachers, we know that if students can teach others, they have developed their thinking to a higher level (I'm thinking Bloom's Taxonomy and/or Webb's Depth of Knowledge).

Mentor texts and graphic organizers for writing.

One of the driving questions that shapes my teaching is "How can I move my students toward independence?"  This applies to everything, but for the moment, I am talking about writing.  If I want to equip my students with the strategies and tools they need to be successful writers, I want them to learn to identify their own writing mentors.  Sure, I will still point out great examples and share them with the kids.  Now my students can also identify mentor texts on their own.  Yep, my students are teachers too! The students are capable of recognizing what great writing looks like and using it to inspire themselves and others.  Woohoo!  They are moving toward independence.

Students identify mentor texts and add bookmarks.

Because I want my students to learn to identify strong writing mentors, I created these bookmarks for them.  We use "The 6Traits" in our classroom, so the bookmarks correlate with those.  I made one bookmark for each of the traits.  Well, I didn't make one for conventions because it's understood that all PUBLISHED books have strong conventions or they wouldn't be published.

You can check them out here:

I would love to hear from others about how they inspire young authors.  How do you help your writers move toward independence?