Tag Archives: Survivor Tree

Reading and Writing Instruction: Paired Mentor Texts

(This is the fourth post about new resources acquired in NYC while attending the 2014 TCRWP June Writing and July Reading Institutes.  See previous posts for  a compare and contrast lesson #CCSS hereStand for Children here, and a book review here.)

Why Paired Mentor Texts?

Pairing mentor texts enables teachers to meet several lesson goals at once. Students who study the true facts behind a story make connections to the text and to history or current events. In addition, finding patterns and contrasts between  two genres can serve to better distinguish them in the students’ minds.

How can we maximize instruction?

Compare and contrast two texts  on the same topic in order to solidify thinking around characteristics or features of the text

Texts:  The Survivor Tree  – two different versions

The Survivor Tree:  A Story of Hope and Healing – 9/11 Commission (Available at the museum)

The Survivor Tree Inspired by a True Story bCheryl Somers Aubin, Illustrated by Sheila Harrington


What do you notice from the book covers?  Stop, pause and jot a few notes.

If you were to begin to form a theory about these books, what would it be?


Before this summer, I would have jumped right in, read this first page, and had students make note of what the author was saying.


I might have considered an “inquiry approach”  where I read this page with the book cover completed covered and asked the students: “Which book is this?” with follow up questions like,  “Why do you think so?” or “What is your evidence?”

BUT, it really isn’t about just being able to NAME this genre of text.  Instead it’s about noticing HOW the author used the techniques of the genre to meet his or her writing goals.  And viewing one text at a time is slow because of the lack of comparison and actually limits the amount of text that students are exposed to over the course of a year.


New and Improved Plan (thanks to wonderful learning and time to plan):

Let’s look again using the “Know/Wonder” format from Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton’s, What Readers Really Do  Teaching the Process of Meaning Making.  We will begin by putting the first page of both books side by side.  Consider what you know after you read the first page from each book.  What information is the same? What do you still wonder after reading those first pages?



What do I “Know” after reading page one from both books?

Both pages include these specific words:  Gallery pear tree, World Trade Center, plaza, New York City, September 11, story

The first page one specifically says “Survivor Tree” while the second one says “over time, and with great care, she recovered.”

Structurally, the first page one consists of three sentences that are fairly complex.  The second page one has four paragraphs.


What do I “Wonder”?

I wonder if both books will actually be about “HOW” the tree survived and the fact that trees can be “resilient”?

Will the first book continue to be more factual and contain more information even though it says it is a story?

Will both books continue to have a lot of similarities in their information that will make it “easy” to compare those stories?

Will the second book read more like a story or narrative with the “tree” as the main character?

Does the use of a watercolor drawing help create the “feeling” of a narrative in the second text?

Which text already seems to have more “narrative” features?

Which one seems to have more informational features?

Why are both authors saying that they are telling a story?


Making predictions:

In this new and improved plan, the second stage will actually have us looking at the book covers.  Based on what we have seen on the two different page ones, which book cover goes with which page and why? (Claim and supporting details)  I believe this conversation will have a greater focus on the text and how the authors have begun their stories.  This attention to the author’s craft will help the readers grow in both their reading and writing.


Can you already tell which page belongs to which book?  What writing techniques helped you make that decision?
Which plan do you usually use with paired texts?
What other paired mentor texts do you have in your reading and writing instruction?
Tim's Teaching Thoughts

Ideas and Reflections on Teaching

Hands Down, Speak Out

Listening and Talking Across Literacy and Math

Teachers | Books | Readers

Thirty-One Educators Connecting Students and Books

Educator *Speaker *Author*coach

We have the perfect words. Write when you need them. www.carlambrown.com

Curriculum Coffee

A Written Shot of Espresso

Mrs. Palmer Ponders

Noticing and celebrating life's moments of any size.


Seeking Ways to Grow Proficient, Motivated, Lifelong Readers & Writers

Doing The Work That Matters

a journey of growing readers & writers

Present Perfect

adventures in multiple tenses

The Blue Heron (Then Sings My Soul)

The oft bemused (or quite simply amused) musings of Krista Marx -- a self-professed HOPE pursuing Pollyanna

Middle English

Life as an English teacher leader

steps in the literacy journey

Walking the Path to Literacy Together


Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Resource - Full

Sharing Ideas, Strategies and Tools

Joel Pedersen

be that #oneperson


All Things Literacy! Brianna Parlitsis


A meeting place for a world of reflective writers.

elsie tries writing

"The problem with people is they forget that that most of the time it's the small things that count." (Said by Finch in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. These are my small things that count.