Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom
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I absolutely LOVE getting the most bang for my buck, don't you? Time is such a precious commodity in the classroom, so any time I can maximize that time by using a mentor text, I do! Today, I'm going to share how I use the book, Enemy Pie by Derek Munson.

You can get the book on Amazon:
This link is an affiliate link on Amazon.

OR you can play the book on Storyline Online!

There are so many wonderful things you can do with this book. I am going to share a few in this post.

All of the activities I am suggesting can be found in this mentor text pack in my TPT store!


  • This is a great book to use to introduce the theme of friendship! There are many pieces of evidence the students can find to support this theme. 
  • But don't stop now! You can also teach character traits with this book. Have students describe the boy or Jeremy Ross giving evidence of their thoughts, words, and actions with you for practice, then have students describe Dad on their own!


  • This next idea won't just get in some great writing practice, but it will also be a great review of manners and how to treat each other. Students should write an opinion piece on what makes a good friend. First, discuss and brainstorm ideas as a class, then have students write to the topic.
  • Of course, you'll also want to tie in good-sentence-writing and revision lessons with this prompt, which leads to the next subject...


  • Use a sentence from the book full of adjectives for your mentor sentence! (Not familiar with mentor sentences? Read all about them HERE!) Have students identify the adjectives and tell you why they help the reader. They should also be using adjectives when writing about what makes a good friend.
My friend Megan over at I Teach! What's Your Superpower? 
loves using mentor sentences!

  • You can also practice identifying subjects and predicates to make sure the students have complete sentences in their writing. We always practice first by looking at sentences from the book we are reading. I prepare sentences on sentence strips first and cut them apart between the complete subjects and complete predicates. I pass them out to the students and their first job is to decide if they have a subject or a predicate strip. Then, they will circle the simple subject(s) and underline the simple predicate(s).

Next, they will find their "match" to make a complete sentence!

As the sentences we use for mentor sentences become more difficult, this is a great way to identify compound and complex sentences, too! This is an easy activity that can be done pretty quickly during "writing time" or "grammar time" because it reinforces skills needed for both! 

I hope this post gave you some good ideas on how to get the most out of your teaching time with one mentor text! You can head over and get the pack for this book in my TPT store here!

If you've been a teacher within the last decade, you know the word "DIFFERENTIATION" isn't just the latest and greatest buzzword. It's crucial across all subjects to be able to meet the needs of the different learners in your class. 
Ideas by Jivey reminds you why differentiation isn't just a buzzword!

For a teacher just starting to differentiate, the idea of it can sometimes seem overwhelming. It does require more planning, but once you get to know your students, it becomes easier. This post is going to focus on differentiation in reading instruction, but the ideas can apply to many subjects!


  • Teaching the standards with a variety of levels of texts to meet different levels
  • Teaching the standards in tiered levels (providing access to all learners for the standard)
  • Giving students choice on how they demonstrate their knowledge based on learning styles
  • LOTS of formative assessments to determine who understands and who needs more support


  • Teaching the same lesson to every small group
  • Gifted students always teaching low learners
  • Ability-grouped classrooms

Ideas by Jivey reviews the importance of why we should differentiate for our students during reading instruction.

I will go ahead and tell you upfront, I am NOT a fan of basal programs. They don't allow for in-depth teaching of reading comprehension and, of course, many students either cannot read the story on their own or should be reading material at a much higher level. 

For this reason, I believe in using a reading workshop model. I start with a mini-lesson to teach a standard using a mentor text then I pull small groups of students. While I pull small groups, students are reading independently (from a text on their instructional level). The small groups I pull are generally based on reading level, but sometimes based on skill need. 

Ideas by Jivey reminds you to stop leaving students out teaching only whole-group. Teach students in small groups to differentiate for levels of learners.

In my small groups, I generally expand on the mini-lesson skill using a leveled text appropriate for the readers in the group. Depending on where we are in a chapter book, this isn't always possible, so sometimes it is a review of previously learned skills. The students are learning grade-level standards, but not necessarily with grade level appropriate texts: some are lower, some are higher. 

Activities in reading also look different, based on my students. They are STILL working on the same grade-level standard as everyone in the class, but with modifications. I might provide a sentence stem, partially filled graphic organizer, or word bank for students who are below level. Students who are above level will have more open-ended opportunities to complete the activity. (This is called tiered-level learning.) 

Why are we differentiating instruction, but not differentiating assessments?

Reading assessments should also look different! After all, are you assessing whether they understand the skill, or assessing whether they can read the text? I believe if you are determining whether students have mastered a comprehension standard, the student should be able to read the assessment passage on their instructional level. 

Using differentiated reading assessments has only recently become a common practice. For this reason, there aren't many resources out there with grade-level appropriate questions with differentiated passages... which is when I come to the rescue. :)

I have created assessments for grades 3-5 that you can mix and match based on what your students need. The passages are written on four levels (2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th) so that you can assess on your grade level, but provide instructional level texts. 

There are six fiction and six nonfiction passages for each strand: key ideas and details, craft and structure, integration of ideas, and all standards combined. 

There are also a variety of ways to mix and match the assessments to create long and short assessments on different standards! I didn't number the questions so that you can use as many passages as you'd like in your test. You might also consider assessing on just one standard with a few texts, or assessing multiple standards with just one text. You can even assess a standard with fiction and nonfiction! The possibilities to mix and match are endless! 

Get your assessments from my TPT store by clicking here!

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!"
"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.


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.

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!

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." Check out more books from Jeff Anderson about mentor sentences here!

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.

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!

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