April 2016 - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom
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.

Mentor texts help students learn how to read like writers and write like readers- yes, even in the early years! Ideas By Jivey talks about the importance of mentor texts in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade, and gives some freebies to try!

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 hear more about how I implement these organizers into reading and writing workshop? Attend one of my free webinars by clicking below!

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

If you're on the fence about using mentor sentences, this post by Ideas By Jivey can help you decide once and for all if using mentor sentences in your classroom is right for you.

Have you been straddling that proverbial fence about whether or not to start mentor sentences in your classroom? I'll admit, they aren't right for everyone. Below, I've listed three reasons why mentor sentences might not be a good fit for you.

If you can't live without the grammar workbook, mentor sentences aren't right for you.
If you prefer your students to sit quietly at their desk and work out of a grammar workbook, then mentor sentences aren't right for you. Mentor sentences engage students in discussion about grammar, style, and conventions. If you were to teach grammar through mentor sentences, students would be getting a spiral review of many concepts every week, instead of just the one skill on the page in the workbook. There would be a lot of great conversation about things they notice. They would get excited about learning about style and conventions. If you like the groans and sighs you get when you tell students to pull out their grammar workbook, then mentor sentences aren't right for you.

If you don't like reading authentic literature to students, mentor sentences aren't right for you.
If you don't like reading authentic literature to students, then mentor sentences aren't right for you. If you detest picture books that engage and excite students, then go ahead and stop reading here because mentor sentences just aren't right for you.

If you love reading story after story of simple and/or run-on sentences with no description, vivid language, capitals, or periods, then mentor sentences aren't right for you.
If you love reading story after story of simple and/or run-on sentences with no description, vivid language, capitals, or periods, then mentor sentences aren't right for you. Mentor sentences will show your students all the RIGHT things they should be doing in their writing. Students will imitate fabulous sentences (from those books in reason #2) and become authors. They will learn how to revise their writing to make it even better. But, if you prefer to read stories that put you to sleep at night, then please do not use mentor sentences in your classroom.

After reading these three reasons, if you realized that maybe...actually... you might be a teacher that is JUST RIGHT to implement mentor sentences in your classroom, click here to read all about HOW to implement them in upper grades, and even see a video of them in action in my classroom! First and second grade teachers, click here for the how-to and a video, and K-1, click here for your video and how-to post!
Ready to give them a whirl, but don't want to jump in head-first? Try out some free lessons with your students!

Are you all-in, ready to go? Your best bet (and best bargain) is to get the bundle that best fits your needs! Check out the descriptions of the bundles to see complete book lists!

It is NEVER too late in the year to start mentor sentences! Sure, you'll see more growth in your students if you start from week 1, but you will still see the lightbulbs come on over their heads in week 31 if you wanted to start then! 

What are you waiting for?
If you want even more IN-DEPTH step-by-step help with implementing mentor sentences, check out my courses!

How did the last week of April get here so fast?! For many of you (some with less than five weeks left of school), you are beginning to think about how to wind down the year with some fun activities. But if the majority of you are like I was... you want to plan fun things, but your to-do list is sooo long and you are just so worn out! There were lots of things I would have done if only it had already been pretty much created for me. And that doesn't mean you are a bad teacher... it means you are a busy, tired teacher.

You've probably seen the fun balloon pop countdowns before- perfect for ANY grade! But as mentioned above, sitting down to think of all the activities that could go in the balloons and typing them out might be one of those things that keeps getting moved to the bottom of the list... and then suddenly it's the last day of school... so I'm here to help you cross that one off!! But sorry, I can't come to your room and blow the balloons up for you.
Ideas By Jivey helps you organize a balloon pop countdown for the end of the school year with free pre-made slips of activities for the inside of the balloons as well as several ideas on how to manage the countdown in your classroom.

In this free download, I have provided MORE ideas than you could use to give you plenty to choose from. Most of what I've listed are "free" things to do. Some require students to wear or bring something from home. Don't want to do any kind of food? Skip that page! Do as many as you want- you can make it a twenty-day-countdown or even a five-day-countdown! Make it work for you! 

Cut apart the slips you want to use and roll them up, then stick each rolled up slip into a balloon before blowing it up.

One of the struggles you might have is actually managing the balloons. Here are a few suggestions of ways to have your countdown:

1. Print off two copies of the activity slips. One will be used inside the balloons, but the other will be for your records- number this page with the "days" you are doing each one, and number the balloons to match. NO SURPRISES with this method - well, not for you anyway. :) This one is especially important if you want to use the food slips, for example. You'll want to know when you need the supplies for them, and can ask parents ahead of time to send in goodies, too. (No one wants a note home the afternoon before an ice cream party that they need to send in two quarts of chocolate syrup.)

2. Maybe you DO like surprises! I suggest choosing activity slips that don't require a lot of planning ahead, then stuff those balloons! You could let a student choose which one to pop in this case.

3. Use it as a behavior incentive. At the end of the day, if everyone has had a "good day," pop a balloon to see what special activity will be the next day.

4. Hang the balloons from the board, a piece of string, or even from ribbons attached to the ceiling! Here are some ideas:
5. The actual popping can be done with a pin or thumbtack, or by sitting on the balloon, or in the upper grades- (if you're super daring) letting a student throw a dart! This could also be a great behavior incentive- let a student who had an AWESOME behavior day pop the balloon.

This idea is just one of many from the bloggers of The Primary Peach!

I'm blogging over at the Primary Peach today! Come join me to see how to help get rid of some of that test anxiety in your classroom!

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