Time is precious. There is NEVER enough of it!!
But, what if there was a way you could take back some of that time? Would you take it?
I have your answer!
Before we dive in, let’s talk about what a mentor text IS and what it IS NOT.
A mentor text is a picture book (fiction or nonfiction), a chapter from a novel, an article, a song, or a poem. This text serves as a model to inspire students to practice a skill. In reading, students will watch and listen to you model a comprehension skill in order to understand how to do it on their own. In writing, students will be inspired to write similarly to the mentor text. In grammar, students will notice all of the “good” in a sentence from the text (called a mentor sentence), and then learn how to incorporate it into their own writing. There is a lot of imitation that occurs with a mentor text; students will impersonate techniques from the texts you present across the subjects.
A mentor text is not simply a read-aloud. Although mentor texts should be read for enjoyment FIRST, that is not its only purpose. It is not an entire novel either. You can absolutely model skills from a chapter book, but a mentor text should be shorter in length so that it can be referred to throughout a week (or two or three!) for different skills.
A MAGNIFICENT MENTOR TEXT can be used for several weeks for MANY skills. In reading, a magnificent mentor text will provide opportunities for a few (if not all) of the following: monitoring, summarizing, questioning, inferring, determining importance, questioning, visualizing, and synthesizing… to name a few. In writing and grammar, a magnificent mentor text will provide opportunities for students to imitate the ideas, structure, AND craft that the author presents in the text. And to top it off, a magnificent mentor text will be enjoyable to read, and one you will want to return to over and over!
And, if you REALLY want to get the most bang for your buck: grab a nonfiction, historical fiction, or science fiction book to integrate your social studies and science content! (OR even math literature!)
We know, as teachers, that using literature is an excellent way to introduce a lesson, but starting EVERY lesson with a new text makes it awfully difficult to keep those mini-lessons MINI! One of the best parts of using a mentor text is that it gives you more time to TEACH. Once you’ve read the book one time, you only need to re-read or refer to parts of it for your whole group mini-lessons. (Small group/guided reading should use books on their level!)
In reading, one way to lead your lesson is to use a graphic organizer. It will help guide their thinking, and it allows for an “I Do, We Do, You Do” lesson- start the graphic organizer with them, then they can help suggest something to add to it, and finally they can finish it on their own. Of course, then they’ll also be able to use that graphic organizer with their own book, or in guided reading, to show their thinking!
Use mentor texts for grammar through the use of mentor sentences. For 10-15 minutes each day at the start of writing time, look at a mentor sentence that was taken from the mentor text you are reading that week. Students notice all the wonderful things about it, figure out patterns in parts of speech, revise the sentence, and imitate the author in our writing- all over the course of the week. And of course, in writing, students will impersonate the ideas, structure and/or craft of a mentor text through your modeling and lessons.
Does this sound like an amazing solution, but you’re thinking, well, Jivey, you just told me WHAT to do, but you haven’t told me HOW to do it! I’ve got you covered!! Sign up below for a FREE one-week course and get all you’ll need to integrate reading, writing, and grammar! In this FREE course, you’ll receive a week of activities and lessons each day for reading, grammar, and writing; and encouragement, suggestions, tips, and reminders. I want to help you take back your time!
Select your grade level below to get comprehensive lessons just for you and your class!
You will get an outline for the week right away, with more information about the importance of using mentor texts. Then, over the course of the next week, you will receive explicit lessons, student activities, explanations, reminders, and suggestions for the next day’s ELA activities. If you’d like to complete the activities with your students over the course of that week, you can! Or, you can “save” all of the lessons and implement them another week if it doesn’t work right away for your schedule.
Lessons, activities, explanations, and support… did I mention FREE? What are you waiting for? Click on your grade level!