Using Mentor Texts in Writing

Lizzet Ibarra- Section B- September 10, 2015

Pytash, K., & Morgan, D. (2014). Using Mentor Texts to Teach Writing in Science and Social Studies. The Reading Teacher, 93-102.

What are mentor texts?

Mentor texts are any kind of writing, articles, or books that can be used as an example of good writing. Students use these good examples to then influence their own writing.

Mentor texts are usually implemented across different content ares, in this case; science and social studies.

" For students, studying mentor texts provides an opportunity to learn firsthand from other writers, to become aware of the multiple decisions writers make in crafting their texts" (95).

Where to use mentor texts (in content areas)

- Writing opinion pieces

- Writing informative texts

- Writing Narratives

Three Guiding Principles

1. Selecting Mentor Texts

Can find examples in kids magazines, picture books, past student work

Select about 4-6 various text examples

Make sure the texts are similar in tone, style, and length

2. Active Noticing

"Reading like a writer"

Pay attention to the structure of the text: beginning, middle, end

Also pay attention to the language of the text: vocab, word choice, tone, voice

Focus more on the "how" than the "what"

3. Levels of Support

At first, teacher should initiate and lead the discussion

Teacher then slowly gives the students more and more responsibility



I thought this article was very helpful in many ways. I knew about using demonstration to show students how to use different strategies, but mentor texts offer great opportunities for students to strengthen their writing by using good examples. It is said that we learn better when we are shown rather than just told. Another point I found helpful about this article was that it spoke of the importance of analyzing mentor texts as a life long skill. This is a strategy that with plenty of practice can significantly improve your students' writing techniques. This is definitely a strategy I would use in my future classroom.

Discussion Questions

1. How do we help our students to use mentor texts effectively without them just copying?

2. How are mentor texts more beneficial than verbal instruction?

3. What are potential challenges that could arise from using mentor texts in the classroom?