What a year!
What does the data say?
My Top 5 Most Viewed Blog Posts of all time are:
Data analysis is interesting. Four of the five posts were in my top 5 all time last year. #2 this year is a new addition to the top 5. It leapfrogged to #2 by passing up three previous “all time” posts.
I continue to wonder if my OLD writing is more popular than my newer writing with two posts from 2013 in the top 5. “Or does the popularity mean that these posts are STILL topics/issues that present day literacy teachers are struggling with?” Maybe these are topics that I need to review during the course of the year. They are definitely already on my March Slicer “To Write About” list.
My Top 8 Posts (by the number of readers) out of the 109 posts that were written in 2018 were:
8. #SOL18: Lit Essentials – Regie Routman’s Literacy Essentials with an entire section dealing with Equity!
7. #TCRWP: 3 Tips – Patterns of Power (Jeff Anderson), Mentor Texts with Simone Frazier and Heart Maps with Georgia Heard
6. #SOL18: Reading Research – Is all reading research equal?
5. Bloom’s and Thinking – Reconceptualizing Bloom’s Taxonomy
4. #SOL18: March 25 – Updated Reprise of #3 above “Lexile Level is NOT Text Complexity (2013)
3. #NCTE18: Digging Deeper #1 – Kass Minor, Colleen Cruz & Cornelius Minor
2. #SOL18: March 15 – Barriers to Learning, Allington’s Six T’s, Student Progress
1.#SOL18: March 11 – Increasing Writing Volume
And this – Reading Research from the end of October and both a November post about NCTE and a December post can make it into the “Most Read in 2018” list within 4 – 8 weeks of the end of the year. So Interesting!
What patterns do you see?
Which topics did you find most compelling?
What work do you review annually or over even longer time frames?
Wrapping up Curious with a Focus on being Joyful for this first chance to CELEBRATE!
Why I write:
To deepen my understanding
To check my understanding
To analyze my thinking
To share my learning
To be a model for teachers and students and
To experience the JOY of a community . . .
Those are some of the reasons I write.
(And as soon as I hit “publish” I will think of at least 10 other “better”reasons that I wish I had thought of during the three days that I worked on this draft!)
Do these steps look familiar?
But do they match your current reality in your writing?
Do they match your current reality in your writing instruction?
I’ve been spying on my writing for over a year . . . literally in search of patterns that I could identify in my own writing. Trying to decide on that next big goal for myself – ambitious or “doable”? . . . lofty or practical?
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as finding a pattern, setting up some demos and “off you go” because writing is complicated.
Steps are added or revised . . .
If I have to stop and research.
If I have to completely scrap my draft because it is really so pathetic.
If I have to continue my “search for a topic”.
If I have to . . .
So here are some resources,
Quite literally, some food for thought!
Because all of these relate to just one simple standard in writing and yet this standard (and its intent) are often overlooked in a search for a priority or a way to reduce/simplify the writing standards!
“CCR. W.5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.”
A previous blog post that connected to this standard is in the 2014 archives here!
Planning – Where does an idea come from? – my blog post
Celebrate Celebrating – a blog post from Julieanne Harmatz (grade 5)
Learn by Writing – Lynne Dorfman’s blog post
Helping Students Plan their Writing – a blog post by Melanie Meehan
Using Technology for a Kindergartner’s Writing Process – a blog post by Melanie Meehan
Introducing a Hierarchy of Writing Goals – a blog post by Jennifer Serravallo
Goal Setting – my blog post
Drafting: Beginnings (somewhere – trying more than just one beginning – trying a new approach
The Beginning – my blog post
Strong Leads – Jennifer Wagner (2nd grade)
Drafting – Endings
Behind the Books: The Perfect Ending – blog post by Melissa Stewart
The Ending – my blog post
Drafting – Telling a Story Bit by Bit
Celebrating Story – blog post by Julieanne Harmatz
Drafting – Organization, Elaboration, and Craft
Elaboration Strategies for Information Writing Dig- Two Writing Teachers
Text Structures – blog post by Melissa Stewart
Specific Examples of the Power of Three – Stacey Shubitz
First Graders Get Crafty – Dana Murphy
DigiLit Sunday: Craft – blog post by Margaret Simon
Revising as part of the Process – blog post by Melanie Meehan
No Monkeys, No Chocolate: 10 year Revision Timeline – blog post by Melissa Stewart
Editing as a part of publication
Editing Sticks – my blog post
Editing – my blog post
- Editing stations for upper grades – Shana Frazin informed
- Daily light editing – Shanna Schwartz informed
Revising or Editing? – my blog post
Fun tool – Eye Finger Puppets (Amazon or craft stores) – Make editing time special and reminds the reader and the writer to pay close attention to the work!
Reading Units of Study Mini-Lessons
MiniLessons are strong invitations to learning! (TCRWP_
Reading and Planning MiniLessons – Rachel Tassler
A Short and Sweet MiniLesson Format – Two Writing Teachers
How to Plan a MiniLesson from Scratch – Two Writing Teachers
There are More Ways than One to Plan a MiniLesson – Two Writing Teachers
How to Read a Unit of Study – Two Writing Teachers
Fundamentals of Writing Workshop – Two Writing Teachers Blog Series August 2017
Share Time in Writing Workshop – Lynne Dorfman’s blog
Choice in Writing Workshop – blog post by Tara Smith
(Almost) Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Partnerships I Learned in Kindergarten – blog post by Shana Frazin
Why I Write – Stenhouse Blog
Mentor Texts – Books that would be nice to have as Resources
Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts – Stacey Shubitz (Stenhouse)
Writers are Readers: Flipping Reading Instruction into Writing Opportunities – Lester Laminack (Heinemann)
Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature (2nd etition)- Dorfman & Cappelli (Stenhouse)
Learning from Classmates: Using Student Writing as Mentor Texts – Lisa Eicholdt (Heinemann)
What;s Your Plan?
What are you going to do NEXT?
Today’s best draft, (Kelly Gallager)
This post I wrote to organize!
- “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . “
2. “It was a dark and stormy night . . .”
3. “Look at that sky!” exclaimed Joey. “It’s such a greenish sky with the weirdest shaped clouds!”
4. Have you ever noticed that Iowa skies take on a greenish cast when the impending storm includes tornado-like winds?
5. It was an eerie calm. The wind had stopped. The sky was greenish and the clouds were quickly rolling by. Some clouds seemed to be attempting to touch the ground.
6. I raced for the house and safety as I whistled for Mya to join me. Barking enthusiastically, she quickly passed me. Were we playing her favorite game of “Chase”?
7. In comparison with other states, Iowa ranks 6th in tornado occurrences with an average of 37 tornadoes each year.
8. Vehicles in a violent tornado (EF4+) can resemble crushed soda cans, almost unrecognizable to the owner, should they ever find be lucky enough to find it.
9. The walls were gone but the toilet remained, isolated and alone, like a throne. Even the toilet paper was still on the roll and in the holder, waiting to be used.
What was I “practicing”?
When did you “know” the skill I was demonstrating?
“How weird that the wind has completely stopped,” I thought. I raced for the house and safety as I whistled for Mya to join me. Barking enthusiastically, she quickly passed me. Were we playing her favorite game of “Chase”?
Just before arriving home, the weather report confirmed that fifty mile per hour winds were in our county. The sudden absence of wind caused goosebumps and a drum began to pound in my head. The sky was greenish-gray and the clouds were quickly rolling by. Some clouds seemed to be attempting to touch the ground.
“Tornado? Straight-line winds?” I wondered. At the very least, it looked like trouble was headed our way! In comparison with other states, Iowa ranks 6th in tornado occurrences with an average of 37 tornadoes each year. The old-timers in our area tell tales of houses being lifted off the foundation or, my favorite, the trailer that was reduced to rubble except for the toilet that remained, isolated and alone, like a throne. Oddly enough, the toilet paper was ready and waiting on the roll and still in the holder.
My house, my fortress of foot thick walls, was the perfect refuge. Branches fell in the timber. Trees danced as the wind began to swirl and twirl. Mya cowered under my chair anxious for my calming touch.
What seemed like forever in the world of slow-motion-what-if-and-disaster-is-looming thinking was less than five minutes as the sky lightened, the wind slowed yet again and the storm passed us by. A near miss? A typical summer storm . . . could be rain, could be hail, could be wind!
How and when do you “rehearse” and “practice” the skills that you ask your students to use in their writing?
What does your evidence look like?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
For more information about opening lines from children’s books, see this source.
Did you name the leads?
(alpha order) Action, description, dialogue, humor, interesting fact, quotation (2), question, and unusual image.
And how did I REALLY begin my story? With a combination of a “thought” (not included in the 9 possibilities above) and actions!
Did you notice that some of the other “possible beginnings” did make it into my short, short story? Accident? Design? You be the judge.
A Storm (not a tornado)
Dialogue: “Faster, Mya, let’s beat the rain!” I shouted.
Sound Effect: “Booommmmmmm. Booooooooooooooommmmm” rumbled the thunder.
Ask a question: Have you ever tried to “race” a thunderstorm?
Action Lead: I unsnapped my seat belt, opened the door, and quickly climbed out of the car with my computer bag in my hand.
Snapshot of a small moment: A flash lit up the sky and suddently a rumble like an approaching train began. It only lasted a few seconds but I was already racing for the house.
Flashback: I have only been caught in a thunderstorm once, but it was so memorable that I now race to get inside a building instead of outside during thunder and lightning.
Join Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche for additional #DigiLitSunday posts here
Mentors . . .
I’ve had a few . . .
Where do I begin
To tell the story
Of how mentors have been my guide?
Mentors . . .
Mentors . . .
Teachers. . .
Authors . . .
Speakers . . .
Bloggers . . .
Technology wizards . . .
Mentors . . .
All with a digital presence
How do you connect with your mentors?
Those lengthy conversations as we learned, laughed and studied together. Asking questions, checking for understanding, and seeking new information . . . on our learning quests!
Online Book Study Groups
What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton – It was a Twitter book study with Ryan, Allison, Julieanne, Sandy and many more included a grand finale with Vicki Vinton.
Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters by Dr. Mary Howard – This continues to be a weekly chat #G2Great on Thursday evenings at 8:30 EST.
Who’s Doing the Work? How to Say Less So Readers Van Do More by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris – This book study involved a combination of GoogleDocs and weekly Voxer responses.
A Mindset for Learning: Teaching the Traits of Joyful, Independent Growth! by Christine Hertz and Kristi Mraz – Book study and Twitter Chat
The Journey is Everything: Teaching Essays that Students Want to Write for People who Want to Read Them by Katherine Bomer – A book study that resulted in several “essay slices” that included GoogleDocs and a twitter chat.
The Book Love Foundation Podcast Summer Study Session with Penny Kittle – a Facebook group with video, readings, and responses each week.
Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts by Stacey Shubitz – This book study involved a combination of Facebook responses and conversations with authors of the mentor texts from Stacey’s book.
Professional Development Facilitators who serve as mentors
- Lester Laminack
- Nell Duke
- Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan
- Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris
- Vicki Vinton
- Jennifer Serravallo
- Melissa Stewart
- Linda Hoyt
- Seymour Simon
- Dana Johansen and Sonja Cherry-Paul
- Lucy Calkins
- Chris Lehman
- Kate Roberts
- Maggie Roberts
- Cornelius Minor
- Colleen Cruz
- Mary Ehrenworth
- Kathleen Tolan
- Amanda Hartman
- Celina Larkey
- Katie Clements
- Shana Frazin
- Katy Wischow
- Brook Geller
- Liz Dunford Franco
- Brianna Parlitsis
- Meghan Hargrave
- Kristi Mraz
- Marjorie Martinelli
Many may be a part of the Two Writing Teachers “Slicer” group or this “DigiLitSunday group or just may be bloggers who I have learned from:
- Vicki Vinton
- Two Writing Teachers – Current bloggers Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey (as well as Tara and Anna)
- Mary, Amy and Jenn at Literacy Lenses
- Mary Lee
- Leigh Anne
- Shana and Katy
- Clare and Tammy
- Burkins and Yaris
- Katie and Kristin
Authors of Books about Mentor Texts
(If you need last names for those authors of books about mentor texts, you can check them out in this post!)
So I’m apologizing to those literacy mentors who I left out in error – one of the disadvantages of making lists – but the point of my post is that these mentors, many of whom are in MORE than one list are all people that I know in the digital world as well as the physical world.
Through Twitter, Voxer, #TCRWP, ILA and NCTE, my horizons have expanded exponentially. Now my mentors come from many, many states across this country. All delightful folks that I have had the priviledge of learning with and beside . . . Mentors and Friends!
How do we know the impact that your mentors have had?
These pictures reflect my most recent thinking with some of my mentors! Can you name them?
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?
#TWTBlog had these questions for their #Twitter Chat about “Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts”. Were you there? Which questions/answers really helped you grow in your thinking about mentor texts?
This chat was a culmination of a week long series about Mentor Texts and in case you missed it, here are the links:
“Tuesday, May 3: Reading Like a Writer, Step-By-Step by Elizabeth Moore (that’s me!)
Wednesday, May 4: Student-Written Mentor Texts by Deb Frazier
Thursday, May 5: How to Choose and Mine Mentor Texts for Craft Moves by Stacey Shubitz
Friday, May 6: Digital Mentor Texts for Blogs by Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski
Saturday, May 7: Create Your Own Text by Dana Murphy
So why on earth am I writing about Mentor Texts again?
Well, there are whole books about Mentor Texts that include ten of my favorites below and Stacey Shubitz’s Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts that will ship from Stenhouse in June of 2016! (You can purchase it here.) And I was just lucky enough, with my friend, Melanie Meehan, to win a FREE copy last night as a participant in the chat!
So, if I have 10 of these 11 books (soon to be 11 of 11) about Mentor Texts, why am I writing about them again?
I know that it’s a total shock to some of my readers, but I must admit that I am a bibliophile. There are very few books that I’ve met that are NOT my immediate friends (except for the fantasy, scifi, vampire type books that I often just AVOID)!
Collecting samples of mentor texts has been helpful in my study of the craft of writing. Each of these books leads me to other authors, books, and even publishers that allow me to deepen my knowledge of author’s craft. I’ve been a writer, off and on, for decades. But during that writing time, I have NOT always studied writing. Instead I was playing at writing and sometimes only “practicing” writing. I trusted the authors above to choose texts that would surely be magical mentors for either myself or my students.
Recently my study of writing has been more reflective and my goal has been to define the elements that work (as well as WHY) and YET sometimes I STILL totally miss the mark! The books above provided a safety net because I did NOT trust my own judgement of mentor texts. I knew there was no “magic list” and YET I still thought there was often something magical about these books that FAMOUS AUTHORS had placed on their lists of Mentor Texts. Reading through their choices was like Intro to Mentor Texts 101. I could see what they chose and why and try to imitate that.
What did I learn from tonight’s chat?
The chat was just like “Field of Dreams” . . . “Build it and they will come!”
Stars on the Twitter Red Carpet #TWTBlog included:
- Ralph Fletcher
- Lynne Dorfman
- Rose Cappelli
- Ruth Culham
- Kim Yaris
- Jan Miller Burkins
- Lisa Eickholdt
- Shana Frazin
- Cornelius Minor
- Emily Butler Smith
- Dr. Mary Howard
- Tara Smith
- Catherine Flynn
- Melanie Meehan
- Jessie Miller
- Leigh Anne Eck
- Lisa Keeler
- Margaret Simon
- TWT Team – Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey
But here are a couple of my favorite tweets that I am still thinking about in response to Q5) “Why are teacher-written mentor texts important? How do you use them?” . . .
and this all important one from Dana on Q1 about reading mentor texts:
The conversations last night were rich. I will be reviewing the storify as I know I missed some. And like any great texts, some tweets will need to be revisited!
Who are your writing mentors?
What are your favorite mentor texts?
How would we know?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thank you for this weekly forum!
What do these have in common?
Golden Girls theme song,
Literary giants: Ken & Yetta Goodman, Jerry Harste, Donalyn Miller, Reba M Wadsworth, Katie Wood Ray
Authors: Ezra Jack Keats, Abby Hanlon, Cindy Ward, Linda Oatman High, Meg Kearney, Julie Brinckloe, Leo Lionni
Books: Ralph Tells a Story, Apt. 3, Cookie’s Week, Beekeepers, Trouper, Fireflies, Fish is Fish
Peeks / Previews: Three Hens and a Peacock, Moving Day, The Leaving Morning, Snow Day!
The number of books by Eza Jack Keats with Peter as a main character? (7)
What do they have in common? Lester!
(Lester Laminack – In case you know multiple Lesters!)
Where was I?
. . . In a land where learners were not to raise their hands to garner attention but were still expected to LEARN.
. . . In a land where KIDS were first and foremost.
. . . In a land where adults were mesmerized by storytelling.
. . . In a land where “Movie Reads” (AKA first reads) were like gold.
. . . In a land where “sitting perfectly still” was NOT required.
. . . In a land where THINKING was required (not optional)!
. . . In a land where conversation is buzzing about a Summer Read Aloud Festival!
But what did I learn?
And how am I going to use it?
Well, the content in this book is SOOOOO insightful!
Reading and writing are reciprocal skills, or as Lester says “opposite sides of the same coin”. This book is about more than just mentor texts because it answers the question “WHY do we need to study and use texts?” As an example, Lester recited the opening lead from Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.
“There was once a small boy called Wilfrid Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge and what’s more he wasn’t very old either. His house was next door to an old people’s home and he knew all the people who lived there.
He liked Mrs. Jordan who played the organ. He listened to Mr. Hosking who told him scary stories. He played with Mr. Tippettt who was crazy about cricket. He ran errands for Miss Mitchell who walked with a wooden stick.He admired Mr. Drysdale who had a voice like a giant. But his favourite person of all was Miss Nancy. Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper because she had four names just as he did.”
Not just a “party trick”
Instead this was a demonstration of the power of a well-crafted text when the lead was incredibly effective. When do leads work? When do they not work? Teachers need a deep understanding of leads as both a reader and writer. Using Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge as a mentor text might have students imitate the beginning in their own text. But how would a teacher REALLY know that any one student or the whole class really had a deep understanding of what they read or wrote?
AHHH! . . .
So the goal is NOT to just write a lead like Mem Fox’s!
Not just imitation!
So then what is the purpose of using mentor texts?
There are several purposes, but it’s not just about “copying a craft move” into personal writing. Using a mentor text is about studying and loving that text as a reader in order to fully understand and appreciate the care and attention that the writer has given to the work. The “depth” of the qualities of the literature allow for multiple rereads or visits to the text in order to both admire and study the words, paragraphs and story. It’s the reason that the literature may transcend time and cause us to revisit an “old friend”.
Using mentor texts is also not about just reading one text and then turning around and using that text as a model for an “activity” that involves writing. True workshop writing means writing day after day, developing, growing and naming those moves discovered from reading that are now a part of writing craft. But that takes time and study – multiple books, multiple reads, talk, and thinking. Not just being told in a mini-lesson to “Do this!”
What does that sequence look like?
Lester Laminack said it begins with a “Movie Read” of a carefully chosen “Best Friend” book. A book that the reader loses himself/herself in and becomes a part of the story. A book that students must hear the whole book!
Then parts of the book may be revisited with students asking questions. Students may go in search of other examples . . . text structures, meaning, story elements . . . but moving beyond a surface look to a deep study involves time, purpose and attention to how reading the book enriches one’s own life. Reading, talking and thinking!
It’s not a new book every day. It’s a planned, deliberate sequence that ends with students being able to revise and improve upon a description or substitute a “telling” for an inference. It’s work but yet it’s fun without artificial motivation (punishments?) because students have stories they are bursting to tell and real audiences who can’t wait to unwrap those stories.
As teachers, we need to be more planful in our use of Read Alouds. We need to carefully study the texts and consider how they can inform our instruction. Use precise language. Check in on students’ schema and background knowledge. Don’t stop when students have cows with “fish bodies”!
Read! Write! Think!
Be true to students and their needs!
K – I – D – S!
Videos of Lester and Reba talking about their book here.
Tweets from the @IowaASCD #Fallinstitute2015 are archived here.
(First draft / Round One of my thinking from a day with Lester Laminack!)
What is a Mentor Text?
Are all books mentor texts?
Should all books be in the pool of mentor texts?
1. All books that are read aloud to students are NOT, especially for this blog post, considered mentor texts. For this post, I am defining mentor text as that ONE, yes, ONE text that matches the writing genre that I am teaching and that is completly covered in post-its because it is my “Marked – Up Mentor Text”. Source: Celena Larkey, June 2015 TCRWP Writing Institute.
2. I am not choosing my most favorite book for my mentor text because I am going to read it OVER and OVER and OVER as we study and write. It has to be a high quality book, but that may not be the newest book. Instead, I am opting for the book that has clear instructional points that works for the writers.
3. I am considering the interests of my students. I am NOT choosing a mentor text because I LOVE it. Instead, I am choosing a book that has content that the students will relate to – be a part of their lives – to increase their own belief in their ability to “write just like this author in this book”.
* * * *
I am going to ask you to pause for a few minutes and go read Shana Frazin’s Blog post titled ‘“Have You Read . . .?” The Art of Recommending Books’
Please, GO read it now! Click on that blue link above. You can always come back by using the “back arrow”!
And did you subscribe to the blog so you can continue to read about talk and its power for literacy?
Shana’s post was about the qualities that you would discuss when choosing texts and how you might teach this to students.
I’ve been asked at least three times to post “lists” of books that we worked with at TCRWP this week. A list does follow. But here’s the “instructional piece” (and yes, I know you HATE when I do that!)!
- You need to know your students. They may not love a book you recommend and ever worse, may not love a book that I love.
- I work with teachers K- 12. Not all books will be appropriate for all grade levels.
- I may have left titles off the list because I already own those books. This list began as my “wish list” and is therefore my “wish to purchase” list!
- All of the trade books that came with the grade level Writing Units of Study. Here is the link at Heinemann to the K pack and you can find the others by grade level as well.
- Shana’s 10 Books of the Month for 2015-16 slideshare
- My Spring Robin – Rockwell
- Charley’s First Night – Hest
- Owl Moon – Yolen
- Kiss Good Night – Hess
- Short Cut – Crews
- Goal! – Javaherbin
- “Let’s Get a Pup!” said Kate. – Gordan
- Z is for Moose – Bingham/Zelinski
- One Green Apple – Bunting
- Salt in His Shoes – Deloris Jordan
- Lunch – Naomi Nye
- Yard Sale – Bunting
- Neighborhood Sharks – Roy
What book do you believe should also be on this list?
TCRWP Highlights from Day 1 and 2 with Celena Larkey (Develop Toolkits to Support Narrative Writing – Advanced K-2)
“In five days, you will get a good start. You will not be able to say, ‘It’s done!’”
“During this week, we will make and use tools to lift writers’ process, qualities, and behaviors daily.”
Share – “Pay it forward” – share with partner so you can have the idea as well.
Teacher writing folder is not conferring toolkit.
Toolkit is my “wingman” so I can have it if I need it.
A memoir is not just person, place or time because it also includes either:
- Conflicting emotion time
- Turning point times
Planning – blank page – try them on and discard (“don’t have to be married to the page”)
Even when planning in 2nd grade: Say, sketch, and then Picture, picture, picture.
Planning – Make it quick; don’t make it good!
Scaffold – only if needed. Don’t have to have something to “leave behind every time.”
Check to see if “it’s sticking first”… If yes, good to go. If not, use scaffold.”
Our schedule for the week:
Monday – narrative
Tuesday – Launching/ Small Moment
Wednesday – Authors as Mentors/ Lessons from the Masters
Thursday – Realistic Fiction
Friday – Fairy Tale and other (adaptations)
If you choose to continue on, you will learn more about:
A. Primary Writing Process (K-2) and Volume of Writing
B. Tiny Topic Journal
C. Marking up a Model Text
Thank you for continuing on . . .
A. Primary Writing Process
- Gather ideas
- Plan your ideas
- Write your ideas
Teach how to do the first three steps with ease and automaticity but be mindful of these three parts so students can practice all them! These go very quickly as students will blink and say, “I am done!“
Written pieces are the beginning of the process. You do NOT designate a day for gathering ideas, a second day for planning or a third day for writing. And you also don’t learn how to do this in one day and then you are done and you don’t ever do it again. Think about learning something new like “how to shoot a basket.” You, the learner will NEED lots of practice in order to shoot baskets well. Similarly, pieces by beginning writers will not be sophisticated.
What is the expected volume of writing for primary students?
This should be a focus for primary teachers!
|Grade Level||Number of Pieces /Each Week|
|Kindergarten||5 new pieces|
|First||3-5 new pieces|
|Second||2-4 new pieces|
- Revise a lot (Exception in K, if child cannot read back to you – no point in revision)
Revision (re- vision) want to see it with fresh eyes (or new perspective) so it sometimes means the child is starting over. A student needs to revise on many drafts before moving on in the process.
What do K-2 students revise for?
Readability (Language / conventions)
When writing has additional pages, cross outs, revisions start tipping to the side of quality! At this stage behaviors would include: “I can go back, get a revision pen and revise” or “when I start a new book, I would apply my revision in the air.”
Revision can happen on the first day by adding to the picture, a page, or adding on to the ending. At the primary level ADD is synonymous to revision. Students are not really “taking out” much.
AFTER MANY, MANY revised pieces, THEN
- Choose 1 piece to “fancy up”! (this is not visible in the picture/it was at the bottom of the chart)
- Further Revise
Stop / Pause / Think
How does this process match up to the process that your K-2 students use?
What is different?
Where might you begin your study of the writing process?
B. What is a “Tiny Topic Journal”?
- Tiny topic notebook
- “There is narrative in anything (not the Pulitzer), but yes a story!”
- Tools for oral verbal work
- “I tell a part, you tell a part”
- Small Moment writing ideas will be recorded here.
When might you consider using a “Tiny Topic Journal”?
- Are your kids writing a summary of their actions?
- Are your kids just recording information?
- Are your kids just making a list?
You will need to model how you observe life around you and how you pull ideas from “everyday life” to record in your “Tiny Topic Journal”? This could also be to jot down “current” topics for those of us who are older and tend to revert back to “when I was a child” for our small moments. We need to show students how we find ideas as we live our lives.
Stop / Pause / Think
Do you have students who need to work on “observing” life around them for ideas?
How would a “Tiny Topic Journal” or “Seed Journal” be helpful?
C. Toolkit Text
For the purpose of this work this week a Toolkit Text is that one text, “one book that I use”, that I can pull everything from for conferring. It’s not my “model and teach” stack of books. It’s one book that I have marked up with EVERY single thing that I can teach on the page! The stickies stay on the pages!
The toolkit Text that Celena shared was Goal!
Mentor Text Tips
- Put in toolkit
- Read like a reader
- Read like a writer
- Mark it up and keep in toolkit
- Don’t use your best literature!
The table that we are using looks like this and we used Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat for our mentor text markup.
|Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat – Mentor Text for K-2|
|What do we see?||What do we call it?||Why would we use it?||Who else tried it?|
|p. 5 title||question||Create interest|
|p.5 “and”||Repeated word||structure|
|p. 5 “Henry”||Repeated word||S – and to show relationship to Henry|
|p. 5 ‘||apostrophe||Possessive – show relationship/connections|
|p. 5 Henry, father, Mudge||Characters||Introduce characters|
|p. 5 “one night” “watching TV”||setting||Jump into story|
I would have all these items marked in my book. They would be color coded by: structure, development, and conventions. And because I work with teachers of many grades I would also have those ideas in mind that I would consider using for an author study of Cynthia Rylant with upper elementary students that MIGHT have these additional boxes for this page.
|Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat – Mentor Text for UPPER ELEMENTARY|
|What do we see?||What do we call it?||Why would we use it?||Who else tried it?|
|p. 5 Chapter title||Hook||Create suspense, as a form of foreshadowing, if we haven’t seen the title|
|p. 5- 3 characters||Build relationship between the 3 characters||Develop theory of characters – how they will interact|
|p. 4 picture of family||Text/picture match||As a part of “show, don’t tell”|
The way this looks in my mentor text . . .
Seventeen words and we found six things for K-2
Seventeen words and we found three additional things for grades 3-6+
Seventeen words from Cynthia Rylant
Structure – green; Development – pink; and Conventions – blue
Rich and powerful!
Stop / Pause / Think
Do you have ONE mentor text marked up for your conferring toolkit?
How do you organize your “annotations” in your mentor text?
Thanks to Celena Larkey for this awesome learning at the 33rd Writing Institute at TCRWP! Errors in this blog are due to “old ears” and “lack of understanding” – not the fine, fine, fine quality of instruction!
How do you use mentor texts?
There are so many options for mentor texts in both reading and writing. A search at Two Writing Teachers gives you all of these posts to consider. You can also check out Rose and Lynne’s website here with many ideas from their two Mentor Text books.
At the 88th Saturday Reunion, Carl Anderson (@conferringcarl) began with a story about coaching his son’s baseball team for six years and yet still needing a mentor. He went on to explain that mentors could be found in Greek mythology and as a friend of Odysseus and adviser of Telemachus actually in the “Odyssey”. A mentor was a “wise and sage co-teacher” – who wouldn’t want one for life?
Ralph Fletcher explains that mentor texts are, “…any texts that you can learn from, and every writer, no matter how skilled you are or how beginning you are, encounters and reads something that can lift and inform and infuse their own writing. I’d say anything that you can learn from – not by talking about but just looking at the actual writing itself, being used in really skillful, powerful way.”
One role of a mentor text according to Carl Anderson is: