Using Mentor Texts

how mentor texts help meet the Common Core writing standards

Integrating Writing into Every subject

Tori Gellott

Section C


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

What is Mentor Texts

are pieces of literature that you—both teacher and student—can return to and reread for many different purposes. They are texts to be studied and imitated...Mentor texts help students to take risks and be different writers tomorrow than they are today. It helps them to try out new strategies and formats.

a “key purpose of writing is to communicate clearly”

Writing Demands of CCSS

CCSS ask students to:

  1. write opinion pieces
  2. write informative texts
  3. write narratives

Three Guiding Principles for Using Mentor Text

1. Selecting Mentor Texts

  • magazines
  • picture books
  • "Teachers should seek out strong examples of the very writing their students will be doing."
2. Engaging in Active Noticing

  • Structure - the way the author has put text together
  • Ways with Words - the way the author uses language and writing techniques to inform the reader and makes different points.

"When students encounter difficulty in their writing, they can return to the texts to study how the author dealt with that specific issue."

3. Levels of Support

  • demonstrations
  • mentor text authors can serve as co-teachers

Integrating Mentor Texts into other Subjects

  • research projects
  • creating emotions towards a certain topic
  • opinions
  • historical events
  • exploration of a topic

just to name a couple of ideas

My Thoughts of Mentor Text

As a student I loved having quality pieces of work to base my own project on, it helped me get started. I think students will be able to strengthen their writing skills by seeing exactly what the teacher wants from them and how they can best get across their point. Being able to analyze different forms of writing is a life long skill that will be helpful past school. I think I will be more cautious of the texts I bring for my future class to make sure they are getting the most out of their assignments.

3 Questions

  1. How would you incorporate mentor text into your classroom?
  2. Do you think by using mentor texts students would be inclined to copy from the author? How would you combat that?
  3. What skills might you have to teach your students before they learn to analyze mentor texts?
What is Mentor Text?
Mentor Texts in the Writing Workshop
Writing with Mentors: Why Teach with Mentor Texts?