February 2017 - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom
Ideas by Jivey explains how to incorporate mentor sentences into your writing time to ensure that the grammar, mechanics, and style lessons you teach are sticking!

I am often asked by people who use mentor sentences, "How can I get the kids to carry these skills over into their writing?"

Remember, the idea of using mentor sentences is to move AWAY from teaching grammar in isolation. This means, don't have a "mentor sentence time" in isolation either! Mentor sentences must be woven into the fabric of your writing time. I know that sometimes your schedule may not allow for mentor sentences to happen at the start of your writing time, but no matter when it occurs in your day, your writing time should still include what is happening in mentor sentences.

During writing, teachers must lead lessons (and/or model) about organization, ideas, content, word choice, voice, style, and conventions. That's a LOT of components to be taught, right? Luckily, mentor sentences covers a lot of your word choice, style, and conventions lessons and modeling! And just like with anything else, the more exposure they have to these components, the more they will understand and start to actually use them! But, of course, showing them in a ten minute lesson and then "moving on" to something else in writing is NOT going to help them apply those word choice, style, and conventions lessons.

First, I would urge you to make the mentor sentence student notebook a RESOURCE and not just another notebook. You can read all about how I set up student notebooks here. If you have students draft OUTSIDE of their mentor sentence/writing resource notebooks, they can actually flip through the notebook as a resource to get ideas. (It's difficult to flip pages in a notebook you are actually writing in, right?) This is something you will have to model and train your students to do, but after a while, you'll find that the students use their notebook as a resource unprompted!

Let's look at how I would schedule writing lessons to make sure mentor sentence lessons are woven in to writing time:

Ideas by Jivey explains how to incorporate mentor sentences into your writing time to ensure that the grammar, mechanics, and style lessons you teach are sticking!

On Monday, you introduce the sentence and talk about what the students notice during the Mentor Sentences lesson. Because you've only introduced the sentence, this is the perfect day to also use the mentor text that the sentence is from to get in an organization, content, or ideas lesson to work on during writing. This lesson and text model should be referred to all week long, as well as the focus skill from your Mentor Sentence lesson (which you'll introduce on Tuesday).


On Tuesday, students work on seeing how the parts of speech work together in the sentence. This should also be the day you focus solely on the focus skill from the mentor sentence. You can introduce (or review) the skill by using the Interactive Activity Companions that go with each mentor sentence lesson. This will be your "writing mini-lesson." Typically, these are conventions lessons, but sometimes are word choice or style lessons (figurative language, descriptive language, etc). Have the students practice this skill in their own writing after the focus skill mini-lesson.


Wednesday can become REVISION DAY in your classroom during writing time. Practice revising with the mentor sentence, then have students revise for that same focus skill in their own writing.


But what if my students aren't done drafting?


Friends, writing is a CONSTANT PROCESS. We must teach our students that revision (and editing, for that matter) must be done many times and over the entire writing piece, not just when they are "done." Think back to when you had to write those dreaded papers in college (and maybe some of you are still now as you get higher degrees). How many times did you read and re-read and add and change and delete before you EVER came to that last paragraph? This is a skill our students should learn, too. In fact, just writing this blog post, I have moved paragraphs, added sentences or phrases to be more clear, and changed words several times already... and I'm not finished! :)

So yes, on Wednesday, no matter how long their writing piece might be, have students work on revising. You could even have students look back at older writing pieces (not just current) to look at how they could improve them. 


Thursday is the students' FAVORITE day during Mentor Sentences: Imitation Day! Students seriously love this day, so work that love for all it's worth! After imitating the mentor sentence, have students work to use that same sentence structure in the writing piece they are working with at that time. Of course, this should not be all they do during writing that day. Aside from trying out the sentence structure in their writing, they should still be working on applying relevant skills they have already learned. (This is a great day to encourage them to "flip through" their notebook for ideas!)


On Friday, you'll give students the assessment to see how much they understood the focus skill from the week. If desired, you can deliver another organization, content, or ideas lesson for students to work on during writing, or students can continue applying relevant skills they have already learned. 


Please understand that this is a framework, or outline, to help give you an idea of how you can incorporate mentor sentences into writing, but how you deliver it all is dependent upon your style (small groups vs. whole group, conferring, etc). This is certainly not the only way to "get it all in" and "make it stick" but it is what worked for me!

Would you like more mentor sentence information delivered right to your inbox? Sign up here!


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



For even more ideas, follow my Pinterest board!
Ideas by Jivey explains how to incorporate mentor sentences into your writing time to ensure that the grammar, mechanics, and style lessons you teach are sticking!


Ideas by Jivey shares ideas to use nonfiction texts to close read and practice paired texts, as well as work on writing poetry in upper elementary classrooms.
**This post contains Amazon affiliate links. The few cents I earn on affiliate purchases is used to fund awesome giveaways!**

When I read Molly's blog post (Lessons with Laughter) where she described using the book, Vulture Verses with her students to create a class book of poems for the unloved...


...I immediately thought of a fun Seymour Simon book, Animals Nobody Loves.


The cover alone is enough to send some running! This is a great non-fiction book on animals, of course, but this book is the PERFECT book to use for modeling close reading. The book has 26 different pages/animals, each with its own short passage.

Ideas by Jivey shares ideas to use nonfiction texts to close read and practice paired texts, as well as work on writing poetry in upper elementary classrooms.

Seymour Simon does an excellent job describing each "gross" animal in an engaging way. It's really a great book to show how to make their non-fiction writing more interesting (because we know those can sometimes be the students' most BORING pieces of writing...) while still maintaining the truth.

The poems in Vulture Verses are also only one page each, and each page focuses on just one animal that people don't really care for too much.

Ideas by Jivey shares ideas to use nonfiction texts to close read and practice paired texts, as well as work on writing poetry in upper elementary classrooms.

These two books together will address Reading Anchor Standard 9 perfectly! (Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.)

LESSON IDEAS

Give students a photo copy of a page from each book on the same animal so they can write on it (remember, you can copy pages that are for classroom use!!) and use this activity sheet (which you can grab for free):
Ideas by Jivey shares ideas to use nonfiction texts to close read and practice paired texts, as well as work on writing poetry in upper elementary classrooms.
Here are the animals that are in both books:
vulture
spider
skunk
cockroach
bat (there are two kinds in the poems)

Allow students to research an animal of their choice, and then write their own animal poems!

Here are a couple examples of  the beginning of some poems from a previous class of mine.

Ideas by Jivey shares ideas to use nonfiction texts to close read and practice paired texts, as well as work on writing poetry in upper elementary classrooms.

This student was upset that zebras are hunted for their hide, so she was on track to write about that being unfair:

Ideas by Jivey shares ideas to use nonfiction texts to close read and practice paired texts, as well as work on writing poetry in upper elementary classrooms.

Of course, around Valentine's Day, you could have them imitate Vulture Verses and write LOVE poems to those animals! :)

Check out more poetry ideas HERE!

Get this Close Reading Poetry pack for even more practice!


Get this Nonfiction Better Than Basal Unit for MORE nonfiction activities!


Ideas by Jivey shares ideas to use nonfiction texts to close read and practice paired texts, as well as work on writing poetry in upper elementary classrooms.

Ideas by Jivey tackles the tricky topic of refugees with students by using Gleam and Glow by Eve Bunting.

In light of recent events, I felt this post was an important one to write. This is definitely a tricky topic that I'm going to tackle here, but I think it is essential to help students understand current events happening in their world. Of course, if you know me, you know I LOVE using a mentor text to integrate across content as much as possible!

Your students have most likely heard the word, "refugee," in the news a lot lately. It would be a good idea to help them understand the difference between a refugee and an immigrant- especially those of you that teach about immigration in social studies. You can download this definition sheet as a pre-reading activity:
The official definition is, "someone who flees persecution and conflict." The vocabulary used in the definition is pretty high-level, so use the activity above to help students define flee, persecution, and conflict. You might have students even write synonyms or real-world examples of the words. (I have included some in the download, too, to help you!) It would be a good idea to have students put that definition in their own words to help them understand the meaning of REFUGEE. Although similar to some immigrants who move to a new country seeking a new life, refugees are different from immigrants because they are forced to leave their home for survival.

Once they understand the word, read them the book, Gleam and Glow, by Eve Bunting. I adore all of Eve Bunting's books because she tackles deep issues in ways that students can understand, and aren't too scary or overwhelming for them.

Don't own the book? You can use my affiliate link to purchase it!
The few cents I earn on affiliate purchases is used to fund giveaways!

I appreciate School Library Journal's description of this book, and couldn't really say it better myself, so I am going to share their review below:

With her noted skill in presenting difficult topics with clarity and sensitivity, Bunting has written an inspiring story based on the true experience of a Bosnian family forced to flee their country during the recent civil war. Eight-year-old Viktor watches as his father walks away to join the Liberation Army, and knows that soon he, his mother, and younger sister, Marina, will be forced to leave their home, just one step ahead of the approaching enemy forces. Already, strangers pass through Viktor's town on their way to the border. One man leaves his two golden fish with the family, explaining that, "An extra day or two of life is as important to a fish as it is to us." But just a few days later, as they ready themselves to depart, Viktor releases the fish into their pond. After days of walking and weeks of living in a refugee camp, the boy and his mother and sister share a glorious reunion with Papa and eventually return home. The land is ravaged by war and their home is destroyed but the fish have survived, even thrived-they and their offspring fill the pond. The simple, elegant language is at once moving and eloquent when juxtaposed with Sylvada's expressive oil paintings. The artist's palette of rich earth tones and striking brushwork reflect the strong emotional tenor of the story. Focusing on the fearsome impact of war upon families and children, and on those things that allow people to retain their humanity, this book deserves to be introduced and discussed.

The oil paintings in Gleam and Glow are beautiful, and as always, so is Eve Bunting's language. The theme of hope and strength is evident throughout the story. 

Because this book is based on the true experience of a refugee family, you can help students understand what is occuring in other countries by stopping and discussing while you read. 

Important Times to Stop and Discuss

At the beginning, after Papa leaves to help fight the enemy, Mama says they would have to leave soon because it was getting too dangerous to stay. Explain that there is conflict (war) that will force the family to flee. 

The family must walk to the border. Discuss that the country where they lived (Bosnia) was involved in a war, but a neighboring country was not. They would be safe if they left their country- crossing the border. It is a very far walk. This is how it is for present-day refugees that must walk, too. Talk about how people who would walk for many miles to escape their country would only do this to survive and be safe. 

Mama, Viktor, and Marina must leave everything behind except for a few essential items that they carry in their bundles. Have students imagine leaving their home and all of their possessions behind, except for a few things that they could carry. 

The evidence of humanity is strong in this book. You can point out instances when strangers helped each other many times throughout the book. 

Once the family crosses the border, they stay in a refugee camp. This is also the case for present-day refugees. Discuss the difficulty of living in a tent for a very long time, cooking food on a fire. Have students imagine again how different it would be from living in their home- having to make all new friends, too. 

Papa is reunited with his family in the camp. This happens sometimes, but often, families must live without each other for a very long time. 

Walking home, and arriving home, they see that nothing is left. This family chose to return home and try to rebuild once it was safe, but for many refugees today, wars go on for years and years. Refugees must make the decision to start over in a new country, or live in the refugee camp, which do not have good conditions. 

Integrating With Reading and Writing

Reading: Use this book for summarizing, character traits, theme, providing evidence, and more! Like all of Eve Bunting's books, the rich and deep content is wonderful for upper grades students to practice comprehension skills. 

Writing: There is vivid language (and figurative language) in this book that you can use as examples of mentor sentences. This book is also a good one to use for reflections - have them think of what they would take with them if they had to leave their home like Viktor and Marina did. 

If you are interested in activities already created for this book, you can get the Gleam and Glow Mentor Sentence and Mentor Text Activities pack in my TpT store. 


I hope this post helps you tackle this tricky topic! Thank you for visiting today!
Ideas by Jivey tackles the tricky topic of refugees with students by using Gleam and Glow by Eve Bunting.


Back to Top