USING MENTOR TEXTS

Cora Jaeger - Section C - 9/10/15

"The key purpose of writing is to communicate clearly."

Key Points from the Article

Due to the impact of the Common Core State Standards, teachers are looking to change and enhance the kinds of writing that occur in the social studies and science content areas. The use of mentor texts can aid teachers in teaching writing outside of language arts, as well as communicate with students new ways to learn to write. According to the CCSS, the focus of writing instruction is to learn to communicate clearly . Unfortunately, most of the writing instruction today is "school-based" rather than focused around learning to write to "persuade, inform, or describe."


Mentor texts, or model texts, used outside of the language arts content area, give teachers the opportunity to show students the real-life applications of their written work. Studying mentor texts allows students to see how other writers shape their ideas and communicate them. Additionally, it adds a level of consistency in writing instruction, as schools across the U.S. should be able to find and model familiar writing strategies in types of mentor texts. There are three important factors in using mentor texts; they must provide strong examples, allow for engagement in active noticing, and give levels of support.


Other ways in which mentor texts can aid students in understanding what successful writing is includes examples of structures used in social studies and science writing, as well as the importance of carefully choosing your words. Keeping in mind the goal of writing being clear communication, mentor texts aid in modeling for students how good writing leaves nothing up to chance for it's readers - an important concept to learn in both social studies and science writings.

"... using mentor texts closely mirrors what writers do in the discipline; therefore, it offers real-world habits and implications."

Reflection

I really appreciated this article as it caused me to think about mentor texts in a new light. I had always considered mentor texts as something only the teacher provides, but I now understand the value of having students find and assign value to mentor texts. Not only do these serve as excellent models for students to use for their own writing, encouraging them to find their own mentor texts causes them to be critical of what they consider good writing. Additionally, I loved how this article pinpointed the need for good writing to reflect clear communication. The use of mentor texts gives students a way to look at their own writing and assess it in comparison to the writing of others that is considered exemplary due to it's clarity and level of communication. This article has caused me to want to be more critical of the way I will use mentor texts in my classroom, particularly the level of involvement that the students will have in identifying what is a good mentor text.

3 Questions

Do you think mentor texts would be more useful if you picked them or if your students did? Why?

Why is the use of mentor texts particularly useful when teaching social studies and science?

How do you think the use of mentor texts may continue to shift in the classroom?

Source

Pytash , K. , & Morgan , D. ( 2014) Using Mentor Texts to Teach Writing in Science and Social Studies. The Reading Teacher, 68 (2) 93-102.