Use Authentic Student Writing
Teacher Barbara Palcich often uses examples of student writing during mini lessons to teach editing strategies to her students. Barbara’s students understand that composing and editing are separate and for that reason they are not afraid to use interesting words and phrases that children of their age may not yet be able to spell correctly. They are excited to have their work used during these lessons on editing i.e. the spelling, punctuation and grammar. Using chart paper or a white board, Barbara and her students work together to edit a piece of writing. During these mini lessons, the students are learning and practicing strategies they will use more independently in their own writing.
Mentor texts are those pieces of writing that help our students become better writers. For example, if we want students to write persuasive arguments, we need to provide them with examples of persuasive arguments to read, analyze, discuss, and emulate. During mini lessons students are taught how to use mentor texts effectively throughout the writing process.
Authors can also be used as mentors. During an author study, students look at the author’s craft and think about the decisions the author made when creating the text. They consider possiblities for their own writing.
Even the youngest students can benefit from listening to and talking about mentor texts. For example the way Bill Martin uses repetition in Brown Bear, Brown Bear.
Mentor texts can be books, short stories, excerpts from novels, articles or poems, and are used to teach the conventions of genre, writer’s craft, style and structure.