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Starting the Year with Mentor Texts

by Lynne R. Dorfman

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to choose a multitude of favorite texts to share with students as read-alouds. These selections serve as mentor texts that you can return to again and again for many purposes over the course of the school year. First, begin to introduce these texts as read-alouds. The rich talk that accompanies a read-aloud creates a comfort level and interest in the text, and often, in the author as well.

These mentor texts help students take their first steps as writers in your classroom. They provide gentle nudges to try out new strategies, organizational scaffolds, or write in the persona of another – to name a few. Kelly Gallagher urges us to do more than model. In Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling & Mentor Texts he explains: “Beyond teacher modeling in the classroom, my students benefit immensely from closely examining writing from the real world. … Yes, it is important to show students how the teacher writes, but it is also of paramount importance to provide students with mentor texts so they can see how other writers compose.” Read more