Monday, September 3, 2012

Using Mentor Texts in Writing

Slowly but surely, we are starting to add entries in our brand new writer's notebooks. Writing is my absolute favorite time of the day. My entire building is participating in professional development on Writing Workshop. I'm very excited to have a method to my madness. Eventually, my writing time will be a little more structured. For now, I'm working on making meaningful mini lessons. 

Lucky for me, I work with amazing teachers with incredible ideas. My team teacher suggested some great ideas and was more than willing to let me share them on my bloggy-blog. In other words, I cannot take credit for these wonderful ideas!

One of our entries was about our memories. We started our lesson with the read aloud, "Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge" written by Mem Fox. If you haven't read this precious book, stop what you're doing and go read it! Tears started welling up as I read the pages of this story. It's such a beautiful story. 

To get our brains thinking about memories, we reviewed each definition of a memory from the story. I modeled writing in my notebook each memory. The students were able to follow along with me because I was using a document camera. (It's quickly becoming my new favorite piece of technology). 

I started writing down a warm memory of my own. I began to recall the day that my niece Libby was born this summer. Then, I sent the students on their merry way to begin writing.

Another entry in our notebooks was inspired by, "The Important Book" by Margaret Wise Brown. My teammate and I put our heads together and planned for our kids to make an Important Book about our school. We used the format of Brown's book as a guide.

First, we brainstormed the REALLY important characteristics of our school. The kids were shouting out answers left and right. It's evident that we have many important and special qualities at the UE. 

After our brainstorming session, students were given time to write their own variation of The Important Book. We stressed using the same format as Brown's to make the book consistent for our young readers. Soon, the book will be published and available for little eyes and minds to enjoy.

 Have you jumped into writing workshop this year? What kinds of mini lessons do YOU start the year with? Do share!


  1. I love the idea you used with the Important Book. At the end of each year we create an Important Book about all the members in our classroom. The fifth graders go around and fill out what makes their peers special. We then put a copy of it in our time capsules! I love that book!

  2. Ooh, I like the important book. I did a minilesson (turned out to be a long lesson) on super powers. We used the who, what, when, where, why model. I went to a workshop this year and it was a good way for my kiddos to use the model and enjoy writing. My homeroom class LOVED it! In every class, I chose fly, but each class had awesome ideas! My homeroom thought we would spin around and huge black feather wings would appear on our back. I that that was pretty awesome for kids who have rarely written a paragraph!

  3. I *just* wrote a post to put up later this week about writing workshop, including how I use the book Wilfrid Gordon! Love your important book idea--I'm gonna have to use that one!!

  4. I'm always looking for new mentor texts, and The Important Book looks pretty important! (hehe...) Thank you for sharing! I'd love to see the published book when your students are finished!

    ~ Sarah

    Write On, Fourth Grade!

  5. I love this!!! I am actually at a loss for what I should do for Writing Workshop. I don't feel I've found my niche for it. Thanks for this idea, I hope to see many more!!


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