Several people have asked me about mentor sentences for the lower grades- the ones I originally created were for grades 3-5. Typically, third, fourth, and fifth graders have more of an understanding of parts of speech as well as more experience with reading and writing. Because of this, mentor sentences in the lower grades are going to look a bit different than the upper grades. The idea and purpose will still be the same though: exposing students to well-written sentences from quality texts will help them become better writers and have a greater understanding of how the parts of speech work together. You can read more about the theory and ideas behind mentor sentences in Jeff Anderson’s books! I have adapted his ideas to create a routine that worked for elementary classrooms. 🙂
If you have not watched the video of me in my fourth grade class showing mentor sentences in action, I would watch that first before continuing on with this post- even though you won’t be going as “deep” with lower grade students, the procedures and purposes will still be the same. Here is a video of me with a borrowed first grade class! This is the first time they have ever done mentor sentences, and you’ll see how engaged they are even on the first try!
First and second graders can absolutely benefit from mentor sentences, just as upper grade students do! It might take a little longer for students to understand the routine than upper grade students, but just like with anything else, consistency is key! Here is a sentence from my first unit of mentor sentences for second graders:
Depending on your students, you might do all of this together just on chart paper, or you might have the students copy/write in a notebook, too. The things we hope for students to notice during Day 1 (Time to Notice) in the lower grades are going to be different than upper grades- they are going to be more basic. This sentence includes proper nouns, which will be the focus of the week’s lessons, so it will be important to talk about why there are capital letters at the start of names.
On Day 2, working with parts of speech will definitely look very different from the upper grades, especially in the beginning of the year. I have still included the list of all the parts of speech on the lesson suggestions page for your own information and in case you have some higher level kids that are ready to go more in depth…
But, I would focus more on the part of speech skill for that week- maybe labeling just those in the sentence, or making a t-chart, like this:
Having a discussion about just the proper and common nouns in the sentence would be a great lead to a lesson where they find their own proper and common nouns in their books! You could even have them write those nouns on sticky notes and put them onto your t-chart you’ve created!
On Day 3, it would be a good idea to help guide the students in how to revise a sentence. One of the skills required by common core is to expand simple and compound sentences. One way to do this is to add adjectives before nouns. Giving them the sentence with blanks in front of the nouns so that students can brainstorm and help you revise the sentence first is a great way to get them thinking before they try to revise the sentence on their own.
On day 4, imitating will be the hardest part for most of the lower grades students to grasp at first, but it will be the most important for students’ writing progress! Don’t give up- it will come! I would suggest giving them a sentence frame, almost like a MadLib:
You can have students brainstorm with you, or you can have them try on their own after you walk them through a think-aloud of your own sentence. You should use your own judgment based on what your students are ready to do.
I like to keep all of my daily lessons up on the chart each day so the students can be reminded of the focus and see our progress. Also, because the week’s focus is proper nouns, I would point them out when I see them in reading, as well as do some short lessons on proper nouns throughout the week during writing/grammar time.
On Friday, I would remove the chart and sentence from the students’ view so they can’t just copy on the quiz. In the lower grades quizzes I’ve made, I have included handwriting lines to encourage proper letter formation when the students re-write the sentence properly. The quiz will assess the skill that you’ve focused on all week. To give you an idea, here is the answer key to the weekly quiz that goes with the lesson I’ve shown you:
I hope this helps you understand how to use mentor sentences in second grade, and even first grade in the second half of the year! If you want to try them in your classroom, you can get a freebie here!
You can also get the first set here:
You can see other mentor sentences that can be used for first grade by clicking here and second grade by clicking here. Please let me know if you have any other questions! I love to hear how they are working in your classroom, too! :o)
If you want even more IN-DEPTH step-by-step help with implementing mentor sentences, check out my courses!
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