ELA: Mentor Texts for Writing

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Let’s just put it out there- Writing is hard! How about using mentor texts with students to help develop fluent writing skills in the classroom?


In a nutshell, mentor texts are high-quality examples of writing that can be used in the classroom to help students develop their own writing skills and meet the more rigorous demands of the Idaho Core Writing Standards. Mentor texts allow students to model their own writing after the work of others through intentional exposure to targeted books, excerpts, and passages.  Mentor texts can by written by professional authors, teachers, and even other students. Typically, mentor texts fall into three categories: Ideas, Structure, and Craft.

Mentor texts that focus on unique and new ideas may inspire students to create narratives of their own or explore unfamiliar themes or concepts. These are the type of mentor texts that most teachers are already familiar with and have used for years. I’ve seen several teachers use Judi Barrett’s classic Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to help young writers generate their own extraordinary ideas.

Mentor texts that focus on structure are great illustrations of the commonly found text structures in writing. Mentor texts can help model common text structures (Sequence, Descriptive, Compare & Contrast, Cause & Effect, Problem & Solution) so that students can utilize similar structures in their own writing. A common mentor text used at the primary level is Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Book. Students can “borrow” the structure of this book to frame their own paragraphs or passages about things that are important.

Lastly, mentor texts that focus on craft can be used in the classroom to model the use of figurative language, dialogue, word choice, sentence length, and alliteration. Kevin Henkes‘ picture books are a great way to introduce younger students to many of these abstract ideas.

So where can you find mentor texts? There are probably perfect examples in your classroom already, but for some guidance check out the links below:

Please email me if you’d like to team on a Mentor Text writing lesson in your classroom or see close reading modeled at any level. jennifer-signature


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