Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom
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Some common emails I get when people are ready to start mentor sentences, or are in the first week and feel like it's not going like it should, go something like this:
"Help! My students aren't able to write anything down the first week!"
or
"What do you do if students don't know anything?"
Have you been wondering how you should set up student mentor sentence notebooks?


**Disclaimer: How you set up your notebook should match your organizational style in your classroom. This blog post contains ideas of ways that worked for me!**

My students used their writing notebook for mentor sentences as well. All of the writing workshop lessons were done from the FRONT of the notebook, and mentor sentences were done from the BACK. That way, they could always find their mentor sentence lessons.
You could put a cover or label on this back cover to help students remember! 
Keep reading for some free ones!! :)

I skip the last page (which is page 1 of the mentor sentence section). 

I skipped the last page because I wanted my students to work on a double page spread for the week. This ensured there was enough room for the daily invitations as well as the interactive activity for the focus skill we were working on that week. I do not have a preference for how my students section off their pages, as long as all of the work is there.

This student continued down the page each day.


This student made sections on her page to indicate when she ended each day.


This notebook is from a teacher who used spiral notebooks. She still had her students use a double page spread with the invitations on the opposite side as the previous examples. These students also partitioned the invitations page into four sections- one for each day.
(The star indicated that this student was chosen as a sentence to celebrate.) 


My students never ran out of room in their notebook, but I used the notebook as a resource, not a place to draft

They completed mini-lessons and activities in the notebook for writing craft, grammar, and conventions (writing workshop from the FRONT, mentor sentences from the BACK). They used a yellow legal pad to write on for their drafting time.

WHY A LEGAL PAD?

For one, since I want the notebook to be used DURING writing time, I don’t want them writing in the notebook. They can’t flip through a notebook as they write in it. 

Second, what kid doesn’t like to write on colored paper? 

I could find packs of these pretty cheap at Wal-Mart, too, so that was a bonus!
My students skip lines when drafting so they can go back to edit and revise on the lines between. We also loved using Rainbow Editing and Revising, which you can check out in this blog post if you are interested.

Need Covers or Labels? 

It might help your students remember which side to open, or which notebook is their mentor sentence notebook, with some covers or labels! 

In this free download on TPT, I have provided covers and labels that you can use for your mentor sentence notebooks in color and black and white. Enjoy! 

Read more about mentor sentences HERE.





Have you checked out one of my free mentor sentence webinars yet? Since LAST summer, I have had several requests to do some online professional development sessions. I finally was able to get it up and running this summer, and hope you'll join me for a webinar!

These webinars will cover ​why you should use mentor sentences and how to implement them in your classroom starting from week 1. Each webinar will be about 50 minutes with a live Q&A at the end. There are options for K-2 and 3-5.

If you are looking to get started with mentor sentences in your classroom, these webinars are perfect for you! There will also be some special surprises during the last 15 minutes!
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!

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