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Posts tagged ‘mentor texts’

From the Classroom: Personalized Mentor Texts to Inspire and Elevate Student Writing with Independent Reading Books

This month’s From the Classroom post comes from Lauren Heimlich Foley, a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher at Holicong Middle School in Central Bucks School District. If you feel inspired after reading Lauren’s post on mentor texts, please comment below and also consider sharing your own favorite lesson here on the blog. Click here to learn more.


GRADE / SUBJECT

7th Grade English Language Arts

LENGTH

Approximately 20-25 minutes occurring throughout the school year

PURPOSE

Last year, I devoured The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini: his books became a constant source of inspiration—fueling my writing, providing minilesson examples, and driving book talks. When I shared Paolini’s ideas, style, conventions, and craft with my students, I modeled how to “read like a writer,” and in turn, my seventh graders began noticing and emulating the way the authors of their Independent Reading Books wrote.

During one writing conference, Caleb declared, “I want to experiment with one-word sentences like in Hatchet.” Skimming the book’s pages, he pointed out “Divorce” and “Secrets” and explained, “Gary Paulsen uses these words to build questions, mystery, and suspense for readers.” The next day he shared his mentor text and revisions with the class as our minilesson. Caleb’s final poem highlighted five words: “Victory. Freedom. Peace. Unity. Hope.” In his reflection, he stated, “The best part about [Paulsen’s] writing is the one-word sentences he adds in. It creates emphasis on the words. I [accentuated] the words of what the [Allied] soldiers [on D-Day] are fighting for because to them these words are really important.”

Intrigued by the power of personalized mentor texts, I considered ways to foster independent reading as a writing tool and dedicate instructional time to observing word choice, voice, sentence fluency, and other stylistic decisions in students’ individual books. Additionally, I wanted to create more opportunities for students to teach one another, take charge of their learning, play with writing, consider risks, and become stronger readers and writers.

NOTE: This lesson can be adapted to use with any text:

  • Fiction, nonfiction, or poetry
  • Whole-class, book club, or independent reading
  • Any age and reading level (picture book, YA novel, or adult book)

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Support Diversity and Encourage Young Writers by Using Window and Mirror Books in Your Writing Workshop (Guest Post)

by Stacey Shubitz, September’s Guest Blogger

A powerful way for teachers to embrace diversity is through the careful selection of mentor texts. All students deserve to read mirror books, in which they can see themselves, and window books, in which they can learn about others.  This means teachers must have books that represent a variety of religions, races, and sexual orientations on classroom bookshelves during all months of the year, not just the ones with special designations (e.g., Black History Month, Women’s History Month).

Children need exposure to books that mirror their life experiences.  Classrooms with minority students need books with minority protagonists.  Children with same-sex parents need opportunities to access books with other children who are navigating the world with a family that looks different than the “mom, dad, 2.2 kids, dog, and white picket fence” scenario most books often show.  When children see their lives mirrored in books, it allows them to feel safe, thereby giving them permission to write freely about their own lives in the texts they compose.  Read more

From the Classroom: What Does Real-World Writing Look Like?

By Tricia Ebarvia

Speaking on a panel at the NCTE Annual Convention last fall, author Cris Crutcher commented, “Reading Shakespeare is an academic exercise. It’s not one that’s going to get me to love reading.” Though I disagree with him about Shakespeare―I think studying Shakespeare can give us tremendous insight into who we are as human beings and speak to us in profound ways―his remark did give me pause. How many of the things we assign―books, writing assignments―are no more than academic exercises? Read more

Grammar Matters: Lessons, Tips, & Conversations Using Mentor Texts, K-6

If you or your students find grammar a dull or tedious subject, then Grammar Matters is a must have for your professional bookshelf.

At the Philadelphia Reading Council’s Fall Event at St. Joseph’s University, Lynne Dorfman and Diane Dougherty engaged educators in a “let’s talk, let’s practice, let’s learn” style workshop to model ways of delivering grammar instruction using mentor texts. From prepositions and participles to pronouns and punctuation, Lynne and Diane led participants through activities, conversations, and Your Turn Lessons that highlighted the importance of teaching grammar and conventions of writing in ways that empower students, enable them to become more confident and proficient in their writing and communication skills, and embark on a lifelong journey of loving the sound, the power and the importance of words.

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It’s our Blogiversary! Highlights from Our First Year

We are  celebrating the one year anniversary of the PAWLP blog, and what a year it’s been!  To celebrate our one year “blogiversary,” we’ve collected some posts from this past year that may be particularly useful to teachers as a new school year begins.

So in case you missed them, here are a “baker’s dozen” – thirteen blog posts with some practical tips and inspiration. We hope that you enjoy reading our blog and encourage you to comment, ask questions, and share your own experiences. We would love to hear from you! Read more

Herstory: Addressing the Omissions in Women’s Contributions to their Families, Country & World

By Lynne R. Dorfman

            Women’s roles are constantly changing!  As you are reading this blog post, there are women making history and baby girls being born who will be future history-makers. It is important to deliver more than half of the story as we discuss leaders, activists, agents of change, and everyday heroes with our students. While some might think that stereotypes and prejudices have vanished into thin air, they haven’t. Consider the Kappan article published this month,” Deconstructing the Pyramid of Prejudice” where author David Light Shields claims that stereotypical behavior in schools about the sexes are “…as common as pencils.” Read more