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Mentor Texts Build Writing Skills

Good writing inspires us as readers and can also inspire us as writers. Mentor texts from any grade level can help students analyze structure and style. They can then apply those techniques to their own writing. Here are some lessons that use mentor texts:

  • Creating a Feast for the Senses With Mentor Texts
    Students investigate published texts to help them learn how to revise their writing to add words and phrases that will create sharp, sensory-rich experiences for their readers. Includes student handouts for sensory images, rubric. Uses Dogzilla as a mentor text.
  • Getting Personal: Writing College Essays for the Common Application
    Students explore the open-ended topics for the 2013-14 Common Application essays through writing and discussion. Then they identify and examine New York Times pieces that might serve as mentor texts for their own application essays. Finally they craft their own college admissions essay in response to one of the new prompts, using advice from Learning Network and The Choice Blog.
  • A Most Nutritous Election
    In this RAFT writing task, students use Otto Runs for President by Rosemary Wells as a mentor text. Then they assume the role of a talking fruit or vegetable. Pretending that there's a "Fruit/Vegetable of the Year" election, the students will create a campaign speech that explains why their fruit/veggie is the best candidate for the job.
  • Sacred Cows for High School Creative Writing Students
    This unit uses stories and information about animals to discuss various themes that deal with human behavior. It includes a wide variety of mentor texts, writing tasks, and a rubric.
  • Serendipitous Personification for Poems
    Students read Emily Dickinson's "I like to see it lap the miles" and Joyce Kilmer's "Trees" (copies available on the site). They use those poems as mentor texts to write poems of their own that use personification.
  • Ulysses: Time Traveler
    This lesson uses Adventures of Ulysses by Bernard Evslin as a mentor text. The writer will develop a scene where the clever Ulysses is whisked into modern times. Using an unusual mode of modern transportation, Ulysses must make his way back to his adventures in ancient times. The graphic organizer included at the site will require students to create a story that has both logical parts and good word choices. This lesson focuses on idea development.
  • Using Mentor Texts to Teach Craft Lessons
    A collection of texts and examples of writing skills. Authors include Kevin Henkes, Eve Bunting, Jacqueline Woodson, Julius Lester, Cynthis Rylant, Lester L. Laminack, Ezra Jack Keats, Ralph Fletcher, and Donald Crews. Adobe Reader required.
  • Vague Pronouns
    Students read and analyze a mentor text (an excerpt from Roald Dahl's "Boy: Tales of Childhood," included), write their own narrative vignette, and analyze their use of pronouns in their vignette. Designed for high school.
  • What Your Room Shows about You!
    Using a passage from Robert McCammon's novel Boy's Life as a mentor text, students write about their bedrooms. This carefully constructed lesson focuses on idea development and organization.
  • Your Own Faraway Place
    Using The Phantom Tollbooth as a mentor text, students create a setting of their own. Lesson focuses on word choice, includes handouts.



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