Using Mentor Texts in Writing

Erin M. Meyer, Section B/C, Sept. 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 iare used as a model for both teachers and students. The piece of writing should be one that the student has worked on for a long time. This article focused on science and social studies integration. This writing strategy is effective because it models for students quality examples.

The purpose is to expose students to genres and writing practices using masterful examples. Using this strategy, students are able to use language as a structure for their craft of writing a text.

When to Use Mentor Texts?

Mentor texts are able to be used in multiple situations and content areas. Don't shy away from integrate.

Guiding Principles for Implimentation

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


Ultimately, mentor texts can be used in multiple content areas. It is not limited to just one topic or subject in isolation. Example of where to use a mentor text include...

—Collaborative Books


—Revising Groups


—Brochures over content - travel


Discussion Questions

How can you use a mentor text within your Block Unit plan?

Have you used mentor texts and were not sure of what they were?

How can you apply a children's book as a mentor text?

Additional Resources to Support Mentor Texts