Mentor texts are perfect for students of all ages! If you don’t believe me, read here. 🙂 One of the best parts of using a mentor text is that it gives you more time to TEACH! Once you’ve read the book one time, you only need to re-read or refer to parts of it for your mini-lessons.
In this post, I am going to explain how I used the book, When Lightning Comes in a Jar by Patricia Polacco to review vivid verbs in writing (and help them implement in their own writing), review parts of speech and similes in grammar through mentor sentence lessons, and do a close reading lesson where they use text evidence to support their thinking during reading.
You can find all of the activities I will be discussing in these freebies in my store:
The students were already familiar with vivid verbs, so I wanted them to “read like a writer” and listen for vivid verbs as I read the story to them for the first time. Patricia really has a beautiful way with words, and all of her books have great vivid verbs- this one was no exception!
Students wrote all of the vivid verbs they heard as I read, then they shared what they heard with a partner. This recording sheet becomes part of their writing resource folder, so they can use it during writing time to help them revise if they need ideas. Later in the week, I had them pull out their writing piece and work on revising their verbs.
Over the course of the week, we also used one sentence from the story as our mentor sentence:
The focus was still on vivid verbs to tie in with our writing lessons, but look at all the other great things we got to talk about with this sentence! Compound subject, simile, prepositions, proper noun, plurals… the list goes on!
That’s what I love about mentor sentences- the students get so much out of it each week and it really becomes a spiral review if you consistently use them. They are also looking at why the sentence is written WELL instead of a bad sentence full of errors (trying to figure out what might be wrong with it).
One thing students always need more practice with is close reading and finding evidence… but you don’t have to only do this with a nonfiction article! As a teacher, you can legally photocopy an excerpt of a book for the students to use in an educational setting.
I copied the two pages where the aunts and Gramma were telling crazy tall tales. Students read this quietly and annotated their thoughts as they read, then we discussed their thoughts. They agreed that Aunt Ivah was exaggerating her story because no one would pick up a rattlesnake with an umbrella, much less get close to one!
Using a gradual release model for this lesson, we did the first two jars together, then they tried it on their own with the last two jars.
So I know reading about how to do all this and actually SEEING it are two different things… so I’ve made a new video!!
I have several videos on YouTube but wanted to show how I tie everything together with one mentor text. Now, I’ll warn you… this one is longer than the others with multiple lessons happening… go ahead and grab your popcorn! 🙂
WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER
If you’re interested in implementing these best practices, come join hundreds of other teachers in the All-Access Mentor Text Membership, where you’ll find over 150 more mentor text units!