Ratchet up the level of your students’ writing by teaching them revision: Tapping into the power of mentor texts and checklists (K-2)
Our 30 minute writing workshop felt like heaven. Time to write, time to think, time to talk with our partners!
“When we revise for meaning, we ask, “What’s this piece for?” Do I want the reader to feel a certain way? What do I want them to do? After I figure out that meaning, I scan my writing piece quickly. Any part that doesn’t match, I cross it out with one line. Any part that matches the meaning, BLOW it up ad I make sure that I tell it bit by bit.”
With that, Celena demonstrated in her text, had us read our own pieces and we were off revising. And it felt very comfortable and very doable.
Meaning – Development / Elaboration Strategies
- Jump into the moment & tuck into details later
- Make time matter
- Find heart of mater and add details, thoughts!
- End in the moment
- Stretch the moment across the pages!
- Show don’t tell – use describing words.
- Make characters talk.
- Make the characters move – add action words
- Add feelings
- Add thinking
- Find the important part – say more
- Symphony share.
Find one revision.
Put your finger on it.
Read just that revision for a single share.
- Museum share.
Walk around and look at the revisions.
Don’t take work to carpet. Quick.
Works in primary.
Can quickly see a variety of types of revisions.
Choosing a Mentor Text
We are using this format to study our mentor text.
Title and Author of Mentor Text
What do we see?
|What do we call it?||
Why would we use it?
- The standards (CCSS.W.5) can be a guide for revision with vertical teacher conversations about the expectations for each grade level. CL
- Revision is not like moving day where the big truck backs up to the door and EVERYTHING is loaded at one time. Choose one lens – meaning and revise. It will take practice. CL
- Use teacher written mentor texts to model how to “revise” so students can see the marked up copy. CL
- “A tool is only as good as the tinker’s hand in which it is!” CL
- Two ways of quickly sharing revisions are symphony or museum shares. CL
Consider: How do we make revision a part of every day’s work?
How and when do teachers study mentor text in order to really KNOW it?
Power Tools, Methods and Strategies: Access and Support for English Language Learners and Kids with IEPs in the Writing Workshop (4-8)
Tools: What should students write with?
Is this teacher preference? Student preference or both?
|Write with Pencils||Write with Marker / Gel Pen|
|First problem with volume
Hard to “push” a pencil – slows writer down
Great for sketching
“Are you writing volumes with #2 pencil?
Edit/ Revise with one line through previous text
Cannot lose data
Flows when writing
What most adults use in real world
(Skills list – draft by genre – not all inclusive)
Narrative Skills (fiction, historical account, personal, etc.)
- Generate story ideas
- Structure plot (sequence)
- Dramatize action
- Make meaning evident
- Develop characters
- Imbue voice
Information Skills (all about, lecture, article, etc.)
- Generate topics
- Structure content
- Elaborate on information
- Develop central idea
- Imbue voice
Persuasive/Opinion/Argument Skills (essay, lit. essay, speech, editorial, etc.)
- Generate ideas/opinions/arguments
- Structure piece
- Support with evidence and reasons
- Prove thesis/idea/opinion
- Imbue voice
- A skill is cooking; a strategy is the way you do it (boil, bake, fry, sear, broil, etc.) CC
- Skill? Strategy? Leads could be both – just like a square can be a rectangle! CC
- “I have to write a novel. Where is my #2 pencil?” says NO published author ever! CC
- Consider the physical demands on writing when a student uses pencil vs. pen. CC
- Make decisions about organization of notebook based on what students need and less on what is neat and tidy for the teacher. (If the organization of the notebook is a constant battle to get students to do it, are there more options / possibilities?) CC
To consider: Is the big question – Is this a skill or a strategy? Or is the big question – What can the student do over time in multiple pieces and with multiple genres?
How do we teach for transfer?
Mary Ehrenworth – Studying Mentor Texts for Possible Small Group Lessons – Read like a teacher of writing, considering:
What is the rationale for using mentor texts?
- Even in the Units of Study in 18-20 days, you can only teach about 6 new things.
- Mentor Texts – so you aren’t the only source of information about narrative writing.
- Mentor Text – opens up to 3-12 other things kids can be exposed to.
- Don’t wait until they are GOOD at it – not waiting for this work to be perfect!
- Mentor Text is important. Study. Incubation period may be long. You may not get the benefit of student learning this year.
Mary began with a demonstration text, “Brave Irene” and showed us how to look at Structure in terms of a movement of time. If it starts right away in one moment, when does time change? And then we did the same work in “Fly Away Home”.
Strong writers in small groups:
- Find things.
- Name them.
- Are they repeated?
- How would that work in our text?
Process that we used:
- Come to any text that we have and ask any questions by looking for most accessible text.
- Visual cues and language for a tool to help students. . . academic discourse.
- Sometimes I will do this work in video – engaging
- I try to demonstrate in my own writing – in the air.
- Teacher “shows” mentor text but doesn’t try it out is often the biggest problem with mentor texts.
- The teacher must know the mentor text very well.
- Students can make decisions about what to look for in mentor texts when the author’s repetition of structure, craft, or conventions is used.
- Mentor texts are the best way to study grammar “like an author”.
- Use of mentor texts should be engaging – and that might be why you consider video.
To consider: What if students were in charge of more “noticing” and determining what can be found in mentor text?
Is this the reciprocity that you would get from reading workshop?
Rethinking Mentor Text
Ralph Fletcher began with sharing letters from students, quotes from authors and many “craft” moves in the mentor texts. He also had us write during his keynote speech.
Using Ralph Fletcher’s mentor text, “The Good Old Days”, (keeping first and last stanzas), here is what I wrote:
The Good Old Days
Sometimes I remember
the good old days
Riding bikes on Sundays
Playing baseball games in the evenings
A carefree family life
Living on the farm
I can’t imagine
Anything better than that.
10 Tips for Using Mentor Texts to Teach Writing
- Read what we love ourselves
- Take advantage of “micro-texts” that can be read in one sitting (Picture Books, Poems, Paragraphs)
- Talk about the author behind the book. What itch made them write that story?
- Don’t interrupt the first reading of a text
- Leave time for natural holistic responses
- Reread for craft
- Design a spiral of Mini-Lessons that cycle back to teach craft
- Use the Share to reinforce the craft lesson from the Teaching Point – showing students in the class who did the craft move in their writing
- Invite (don’t assign) students to experiment with craft element
- Be patient – The student may not be able to do the craft this year but instruction was not in vain.
Bonus Tip – Don’t kill the book!
- Understand Means “To stand under”
- A writer MUST read!
- Mentor texts are available everywhere!
- There are many places to start but these institutes grow you personally and mentor texts will grow your classroom.
- Collect a lot of writing, including student writing, for mentor text use.
To consider: What if more teachers were writing? What supports do readers need in order to be better writers?