Mentor Texts

in Science and Social Studies

What is it?

Mentor texts in science and social studies are used so both students and teachers can model a real piece of writing that the student has worked on for a long time. It was identified as an effective writing strategy because models provide students with quality examples. The purpose is to use mentor texts to expose students to genres and writing practices for any particular disciplines. Students also get to step inside the authors shoes so they can see how authors, within those content areas, use language to structure their message within a text. Mentor texts are models of how to write well within a genre; these texts are basically mentors to the students.

How to Select a Mentor Text

  • After you decide on a genre, find strong examples of good writing that you want your student's writing goals to be.
  • Go over how to read like a writer with your students, model what you notice in the text and allow students to participate and discuss what they see (language, structure)
  • Support your students in the beginning when students are barely getting accustomed to noticing how the piece is written and not focusing on the topic of writing.

Study of Models =

The study of mentor texts

How This May Look on Paper

Helpful Hints

Implementing the Study of Mentor Texts Across Disciplines

The Common Core State Standards states that writing is a way for students to show what they know about a certain subject. However, it also lets the students show the extent of their understanding of language and writing when conversing, building, and producing knowledge in the content. The students are engaged in the work that professionals in the field are doing. Teachers and students are studying quality pieces specifically under the content are, but the texts and the final writing products will be particular to the discipline. A big benefit would be that the students would be well versed in the genre, conventions, and terms used in that particular discipline.


  • Engage your students in an inquiry assignment where they can explore different genres within the discipline (contact experts, publications, etc.)
  • Work with your students to pick mentor texts to model their writing after.
  • Begin conversations with students about what they notice about texts.
  • Students should begin crafting their original pieces.
  • Students should return to the mentor texts to scaffold their writing.

Discussion Questions

  • What could go wrong?
  • Are mentor texts more/as beneficial as verbal instruction?
  • Do you think students should learn to read like writers? Why/why not?


I think this article really opened my eyes to the fact that writing and reading are different from reading like a writer. I had no idea that reading like a writer could include so many different skills that a student would access by simply (or not so simply, after reading the article) learning how to read like an author. I also loved the fact that as the students are stepping into the author's shoes and they can see what their writing can look like, so the teacher and the student can set up a sort goal for the student's writing. It is a great tool for the student to track their progress and realize what they should be looking for in their own writing. I also like the fact that the article made sure you, as the teacher, support the student while they are still understanding that they are looking at HOW the book/article was written and NOT on the topic of writing. I would definitely use this strategy in my own classroom.

Article Title

Pytash, K., & Morgan, D. (2104). Using mentor Texts to Teach Writing in Science and Social Studies. Read Teach the Reading Teacher, 93-102.

Who am I?

Alejandra Contreras, Section C, Presenting September 10