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Mentor Text

Research on using mentor text in writing instruction
by

Tonna Mason

on 1 May 2010

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Transcript of Mentor Text

Using Mentor Text in Writing Instruction 6 + 1 Traits of Writing Idea Development
Conventions Voice Organization Fluency Word Choice Students will write a short paragraph about a special place they love to visit. They will look for prepositional phrases like MacLachlan to help their sentences flow. These phrases should give meaningful details. Like the foundation of a house,
idea development serves as the
solid base on which a good piece
of writing rests. If you start with
a solid idea, your writing can
grow as big as you want.
Offers a Broad Perspective to Writing
Provides a Universal Language for Students and Teachers
Gives us a Model for Responding to Students’ Writing
Provides Foundation for Revision and Editing
Allows Students to Become Evaluators students will create an imaginary family, and each family member will be associated with a different piece of punctuation, or with a different part of speech. Once the family has been introduced, and each family member's "powers" explained, the students can create stories about their original "Conventional Family." A great writing teacher finds the time to teach
conventional skills in context, which means the
students apply the skills to a piece of writing
they are creating, not a piece of writing that a
daily oral language drill has provided. —like the sun in the sky—can accomplish many things: comfort or sunburn, thirst or relaxation. The words you choose to include in your writing have profound impact on your reader.
Students will look through magazines or newspapers to find "sparkle" words to use in a story they create. They will cut the word out and paste it into their story. What research has shown: When instructors use mentor texts to teach author’s craft, students have high-quality models through which they can develop their own writing voices. Different types of texts can be used—from poetry to fiction to nonfiction—for a variety of purposes. What is mentor text? "A piece of literature that we can return to again and again as we help young writers learn how to do what they may not yet be able to do on their own."

Dorfman and Cappelli "Literature triggers thoughts, unlocks memories, and helps children realize they have something important and interesting to say."

Shelly Harwayne, Lasting Impressions Why should we use mentor text?

To call attention to special characteristics, qualities and styles used within familiar text.
To examine techniques, strategies and methods used by published authors.
To invite students to try those techniques in their own writing.
What to look for when selecting mentor text:

High interest - topic is appealing
Readability - it's ok for the text to be challenging for students as readers
Representative - a consideration for genre study only
Obvious, active crafting stance - the text has lots of potential for learning about the craft of writing.


(Wood - Ray)
Tell students that Jane Yolen uses a technique used by many writers when they want to craft their sentences: she makes sure most of her sentences start with different words. While most student writers begin sentences with personal pronouns and the word The, Jane Yolen makes sure she has a variety of sentence beginnings.

Read the first half of the book again, having students list words other than I and The that Jane Yolen starts her sentences with. You might have them make the list right on their rough draft for easy reference.

Just as white clouds float peacefully in the sky, or thunder clouds arrive with alarm, sentences and phrases float through a piece of writing. Do you want your sentence fluency to be subtle or alarming? Organization is the structure of writing.
Just as a house has an entrance, an exit,
hallways that connect, and a sensible
layout, so too does a piece of good
writing. Blueprints are drawn before
a house is built; writing should be
“blue-printed” too Always start off on the right foot.
Share good beginnings of books
that present well written beginnings
using dialouge, sound effects,
action, or thought/question. These
three books are good examples of
starting off on the "Right Foot". The author’s voice —a.k.a. you—should be present in every piece of writing you make. Sometimes your presence needs to be strong, but sometimes it should be kept subtle. Thinking about a sporting event, each writer will combine
one interesting interjection (or verb) and one interesting
name, and then create as many emotion-filled sentences as possible
(No, David...David, No. No...No, no, no, no, David).
Punctuation will be checked carefully for commas, periods,
and exclamation points. Writers will then create a descriptive
scene about a sporting event that weaves together details and
several of their interjection-based sentences.
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