Mentor Text Monday! Or Wednesday! Or Friday!

We have a rotating schedule, and because of this, we only have 45 minute-long Monday classes.  This means that after we do our choice reading and quick writing, we only have 25 minutes left of class.  

That might sound stressful and hopeless for the workshop-minded teacher, but these short Mondays have been perfect for lessons around mentor texts, so this semester, I started Mentor Text Monday.  

I detest the word “mini-lesson” (like, isn’t a lesson just a lesson?) but maybe that’s just what this is.

When we worked with writing reviews,  I pulled a few reviews from Rolling Stone  and The A.V. Club and we went through them together as a class, with my copy on a document camera as I wrote all over the text, commenting on author choices and asking questions of the text (and my students).

When we wrote narratives, I used Chrissy Metz’s recent Glamour piece as a mentor text in a similar way.

But then later, after we’d had some practice together, students independently read a piece of testimony from OJ Simpson’s grand jury trial and revised it into a practice piece of writing before starting their own informative, eyewitness piece.

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(Side note:  They knew nothing about OJ Simpson!  Here I was, thinking I was picking cool, hip, interesting texts and I had to explain the entire trial before we even started reading…)

Our writing/workshop/revision process usually takes a few weeks per task, so on those Mentor Text Mondays that fall mid-workshop, I’ve played examples of our task from last semester’s podcast.  That’s been pretty fun; it’s given them guidance and gotten them excited (well, most of them) for this semester’s podcast.

Some weeks, we’ll have a long weekend, or a strange schedule, and our Mentor Text Mondays become Mentor Text Wednesdays or Mentor Text Fridays.  On those days, we work with these texts during our 90 minute block and then move into our new writing task, but I do think it works best (for my students, anyway!) in a shorter period. This short period, without an immediate follow-up task, gives them time to process and reflect before applying our analysis to their own piece.

18194927_10100743059245557_6095883277522096389_nWe’ve also read 69 choice books in my writing class this semester…29 last month!
(Those are mentor texts, too.)

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