Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom
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I am so excited to share that one of my favorite blog posts has been featured on the TPT blog! Check it out!

If you've been considering using mentor sentences and need more proof than the feedback you read on TpT, this is the post for you! First, let me make sure you know about the FREE live webinars about mentor sentences that I am offering this summer. You can check them out here!

Now for the data! If you are all about the numbers, then you are going to love what I have for you!

In the upper grades, mentor sentences provide students the opportunity to notice and imitate grammar and craft in well-written sentences from mentor texts you love and use in the classroom. This is your opportunity to stop teaching grammar in isolation and teach mechanics, grammar, and craft together in your writing time.

Jeff Anderson says in his book, Mechanically Inclined, "Mechanics and grammar are inherently linked to craft… instead of separating them into different lessons, they should be merged whenever possible." 

By integrating your grammar and writing together, students will apply what they've learned to their own writing! I know this from my experience and from the experiences of others, but I wanted to give you some hard evidence, too. 

In the lower grades, mentor sentences provide students the opportunity to read, learn vocabulary and/or grammar skills, and imitate grammar and craft in well-written sentences from mentor texts you love and use in the classroom. By using this balanced literacy approach, students will make the reading and writing connection! 

I asked some fellow teachers to provide beginning of the year and end of the year writing samples so that I could analyze them. I received samples from classes that didn't use mentor sentences and classes that did use mentor sentences consistently all year long. This was NOT an *official* case study since I was not able to match up students' gender, race, ability, etc. but I think the numbers will still speak for themselves.

First up, upper grades data: I created a rubric to score all of the writing samples (used for beginning and end of the year samples from all students). Mentor sentences improve style, grammar, and mechanics, so those are the only areas I scored. This rubric was used to score the upper grade students:

In this first graph, you will see the data from a combination of third and fourth graders. The yellow columns are the students who DID NOT have mentor sentence instruction, and the green columns are the students who DID have mentor sentence instruction consistently over the course of the year.
If all of these numbers just made your eyes cross, let me help dissect this data for you.

With mentor sentences, 50% were more highly effective in style (that's HALF!!) and 100% were effective or highly effective in style. THIS IS HUGE! That means 100% of students are using concrete details and sensory details in their writing and using compound and complex sentences in their writing.

With mentor sentences, 43% were more highly effective in grammar. 96% were effective or highly effective in grammar compared to 61% without mentor sentence instruction. Again... HUGE! This means almost every student in the class used pronouns, conjunctions, and prepositions correctly and their sentences had subject/verb agreement. 

With mentor sentences, 28% were more highly effective in mechanics and 19% were more effective in mechanics than those students without mentor sentence instruction. 86% of students were effective or highly effective in mechanics compared to 39% without mentor sentence instruction. 

This next graph is what impacted me the most. When I scored the beginning of the year writing and compared it to the end of the year writing, students often improved in each area whether they had mentor sentence instruction or not... but the AMOUNT of growth was what I found so exciting!
Over half of the students made greater gains with mentor sentences!! All of this data definitely supports what I have seen using mentor sentences in my own classroom, too. 

What about the lower grades, you ask? I created a rubric specifically for K-1 students in the areas of style, grammar, and mechanics. I received samples from two kindergarten classrooms - one that used mentor sentences consistently all year long and one that did not use mentor sentences.

Again, in this graph, the yellow columns are the teacher who did NOT use mentor sentences and the green columns are the teacher who DID use mentor sentences:
We don't see quite as much of a difference in 5-year-olds as we do with the upper grades, but there are definitely still some points to notice:

15% were more highly effective in style AND grammar with mentor sentences!

10% were more effective in mechanics with mentor sentences!

This next graph is definitely more exciting! When I scored the beginning of the year writing and compared it to the end of the year writing, students often improved in each area whether they had mentor sentence instruction or not... but look at the awesome growth that occurred with mentor sentence instruction!

Almost a third of the kindergartners with mentor sentence instruction moved two or three levels in at least one area on the rubric from the beginning of the year to the end!

I hope this helps you see the difference mentor sentences can make in your students' learning AND your teaching! You can see all of my mentor sentence products in my TpT store.

You can also sign up for a FREE live webinar about mentor sentences to learn even more!

Oh. My. Word!! Y'all! I know there are so many planners, organizers, binders, etc out there, but my sweet friend Joey Udovich has answered all of your planning needs with The Ultimate Teaching Binder

And guess what? Joey is letting me give one away to one of my lucky followers!!

Joey has listened to teacher wants and needs for the last three years, and put each of them into this product. It contains 100% editable forms for your organization needs! Check out the table of contents below- EVERY SINGLE page within this portion of the product, which also comes in black and white, is completely editable. There is NOTHING that can't be changed.
There are so many forms and pages available. It surely has what you will need for your planning needs. It even comes with a K-5 editable CCSS file!

Color and black and white options are available on both the covers and forms. There are also Excel grade book and lesson planning pages included, which are also completely editable and already formulated for easy use.

There are 259 cover choices and 41 themes available!! You won't ever need another planner, and each year it will be like you have a new one with all the cover and theme options! I've never seen another teaching binder that offers a selection like this.

Check out this awesome blog post on how to organize the binder!

Enter to win this amazing ULTIMATE binder below! Good luck!

Ideas by Jivey reviews research-based reasons why grammar in isolation doesn't work. Teach grammar in context using mentor sentences and students will become better writers!

One of the questions I get asked the most about using mentor sentences is, "Don't you review all the grammar concepts before starting mentor sentences?"

And my answer is always, "Nope!"

Now, I am not "one of those" telling you to stop teaching grammar. Understanding grammar is beneficial to proper communication. Instead, grammar should be taught in context- not in isolation.

Ideas by Jivey reviews research-based reasons why grammar in isolation doesn't work. Teach grammar in context using mentor sentences and students will become better writers!
  • Expecting students to "find" errors in a sentence that they've never seen before isn't going to help students learn grammar or become better writers.
  • Simply telling students what an adverb, adjective, or preposition is and having them "find" those parts of speech in random lists doesn't help them utilize it in their own writing.
  • Diagramming or labeling a sentence just for the sake of labeling doesn't help students write more effectively.

Ideas by Jivey reviews research-based reasons why grammar in isolation doesn't work. Teach grammar in context using mentor sentences and students will become better writers!
  • Showing students well-written sentences and discussing why these sentences are excellent will help them know what to do in their own writing. Using the same sentence the students have studied and discussed to later practice editing skills (alter a few things about the sentence for students to identify) will help them apply those skills in their own writing.
  • Explaining parts of speech when seeing/identifying them in context will help students understand them. Practicing with those parts of speech in writing and speaking will help the skill "stick" and usage is more likely in writing later.
  • Labeling the sentence to discuss how parts of speech are used in context will help students see how the words work together to form an awesome sentence that they can imitate in their own writing. 
**note the difference from the isolated labeling: students are discussing why and how they know the parts of speech they are labeling vs. just diagramming and moving on.**

I know what you're thinking... "At the beginning of the year, how can we expect students to find everything we want them to find about the weekly mentor sentence?"

Simple answer: You don't!

Ideas by Jivey reviews research-based reasons why grammar in isolation doesn't work. Teach grammar in context using mentor sentences and students will become better writers!
Students will begin to "soak up" the language and the skills as you consistently use mentor sentences. I promise! It will take some time and a few weeks of modeling the expectations.

And as for "finding everything" - not in the beginning! When you start, take baby steps and work up to "everything." Will they all understand all the skills at the same time? Of course not- just like everything else you teach, students are going to be all over the map when it comes to understanding... but the GREAT thing about using mentor sentences is the spiral of the basic skills every week!

Their mentor sentence notebook also becomes a resource and reference tool for their writing!

Do you own any of my mentor sentence products? You can check them out in my store!

They are perfect for all levels of learners- from ELL and students with disabilities all the way to gifted students! Mariane R. says about using the mentor sentences products in my store: This has to be my absolute favorite. The lessons are easy to follow and use and my students have been getting a lot out of each week's lessons. I teach in a special education classroom for students with hearing loss. A lot of resources and products they cannot understand or access but they have really gotten in to these lessons and I have seen improvement in both their comprehension and their writing.

Have you used mentor sentences in your classroom to replace your isolated grammar instruction? Tell us about how it went in the comments! I love to hear from you!

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Ideas by Jivey reviews research-based reasons why grammar in isolation doesn't work. Teach grammar in context using mentor sentences and students will become better writers!

I am so excited to announce the return of the Summer Workshops for Mastering Mentor Sentences! This year's sessions will be held on June 24, 2016 at Gwinnett Tech in Lawrenceville, Georgia. There will be TWO SESSIONS! The morning session will be all about implementing mentor sentences into K, 1, and 2 classrooms, and the afternoon session will be for my 3-5 teachers. You CAN attend both - there is an all day ticket if you are interested! 

Early Bird Pricing Ends June 1!

I understand that this may not be convenient to some of my blog readers, but don't worry!! I have some online options coming soon for you! :) WEBINARS are now available! Sign up here! Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter to be the first to know the details about upcoming webinars and online courses that will be available in the future!

Both of these workshops are located in classroom 657 at Gwinnett Tech in the 100 Building. We will meet from 9:30 AM-11:30 AM for K-2 and 12:30 PM -2:30 PM for 3-5.

I will explain the routine, show video of mentor sentences in action, practice the process with you, and of course, answer any questions you might have about mentor sentences!

Are you ready to register? Click below!

There will be mentor sentence lessons available at a DISCOUNTED price for you to purchase at the workshops in hard copy and digital form. If you already know you will want to buy these awesome discounted items, you can get them when you purchase your tickets to save money on your entry to the workshop! You can buy them as a digital bundle or printed book bundle. Don't worry- if you aren't sure now about buying, you will still have the option at the workshop to get the items at a discount if you'd like!

There will also be some awesome giveaways, just like last year! The lucky prize winners last year won mentor texts, digital lessons, and even hard copies of lessons! I have some fun up my sleeve this year, too. You won't want to miss it!

Register now for the EARLY BIRD pricing!


I felt extremely lucky to be able to experience Mentor Sentences in action! Jessica's workshop was well-organized and full of practical tips and solid content! She's done the research and knows her stuff! There was plenty of time for Q&A which was definitely an advantage of attending an in-person workshop. I love how she has integrated social studies and science content into her mentor sentences. I feel like grammar sometimes gets lost in Language Arts instruction and Jessica has created a no-excuse way to make sure students don't miss out. They only take 15-20 minutes! I highly recommend attending the Mentor Sentences workshop and buying the bundle especially so you're set for the whole year! 

~Andrea Runnels

Jessica Ivey's mentor sentences are a huge game changer! You can improve student writing and teach grammar skills while using the high quality literature you know and students won't let me skip a week. Students love it and are engaged the entire lesson!
~Deanna Sessoms

I had already been using Jessica's mentor sentences before attending the summer session, but I loved hearing her present to not only confirm that I'd been doing it correctly, but also to get new ideas of ways to use mentor sentences in my classroom. She was able to answer everyone's questions based on her personal experiences with delivering mentor sentences in her classroom. I've seen huge improvements in my students' writing and understanding of grammar skills thanks to mentor sentences!
~Toni Libby

Attending Jivey's mentor sentence workshop last summer was the best professional development I have ever been to. Starting mentor sentences can be scary, but Jessica really takes you step by step on how to implement them in your classroom. My kids loved doing them every week this year. I saw the most growth in my students' writing styles this year than any year prior. They became better and more confident writers because of these mentor sentences!
~Lizzie Vaughn

Jessica has done a great job of embedding grammar and writing skills together to help students see the connection. Mentor Sentences is a scaffold approach that starts easy and therefore any student can be successful with a mentor sentence. My teachers in my building love it, especially the hands on training that Jessica provided us with!
~Stephanie Lindstrom

Mark down this awesome workshop on your calendar now! JUNE 24! :)

I blogged over at The Primary Peach to share a fun end of year activity with OOBLECK! Head over and check it out!

Mentor texts help students learn how to read like writers and write like readers- yes, even in the early years! In fact, K-2 teachers are a super-big-help to the upper grades teachers because their use of mentor texts helps ingrain the importance of reading, as well as to write like the authors we love.

In the primary grades, it's important to choose mentor texts that are engaging. First, read the book to them for pleasure- you want them to enjoy the book! Once they've listened to the book, you can go back and discuss (and maybe re-read) the content for reading comprehension. Finally, you can incorporate the mentor text into your writing lessons! With a good mentor text, you will be able to teach multiple skills across reading, writing, grammar, and maybe even science and social studies!

Read Like a Writer!

Reading like a writer does not come naturally for little ones. You will want to do a lot of modeling and "think-alouds" with a text they are familiar with- point out characters, dialogue, the author's word choice, the way a problem is solved, the way the author might have surprised you... and so on.

One way to help students notice the style, structure, and conventions of great writing is to use mentor sentences! Students are encouraged to notice what makes the sentence a good sentence, and then are able to practice writing their own sentence just like the mentor sentence. (If you are unfamiliar with mentor sentences, you can read more about them here and here, too!) There is also a grammar focus in first and second grade mentor sentences, so you can touch on parts of speech and conventions during mentor sentence time, too!

Write Like a Reader!

Once you and the students have analyzed how the author wrote a mentor text, you will want them to practice writing that way, too. Try to choose authors that have series of books when you can- it's a great way to see how consistent they are!

One of my favorite authors to use is Doreen Cronin with her Diary series!

Read these books with your students and take note of the first-person point-of-view diary format with your students. Talk about how the characters reacted to certain events, and how that is similar or different to how they would react in the same situation. Also discuss the things Doreen Cronin included that is typical of that animal (for example, the worm digging in the dirt, and hanging out on the sidewalk after the rain). Have students write their own "Diary of a ____" story with a different animal or insect than in the books!

Teaching about animals or insects in science? BONUS! You can incorporate that into your writing time by allowing them to choose something they've learned about and include characteristics just like Doreen did! (Diary of a Caterpillar, anyone?!)

You can try out some lessons that I've created for Diary of a Worm by clicking on the links below! They are great for first and second graders and MAYBE some high kindergartners, too!

Want to see some more mentor text ideas? 
Be sure to check out this pin board, put together by The Reading Crew!

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