Improve Your Writing Using Mentor Texts

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Improve Your Writing Using Mentor TextsQuestions to Guide Thinking and DiscussionBackgroundA mentor text is a piece of writing that can serve as an example of good writing forstudent writers. Students can improve their own writing by reading the mentor text andthen identifying, thinking about, and discussing the writing techniques and approachesused by the writer. The goal is to provide students a model they could emulate in craftingtheir own piece.Choosing a Mentor TextAs an instructor or family member, you can choose a mentor text you think exemplifiesgood writing. You also can help the student choose a mentor text of his or her own. Formore on what constitutes a good mentor text, read “Using Mentor Texts to Learn Fromthe Best and Improve Students’ Writing” by Sean Thompson and Dr. Deborah K.Reed.Instructions1. Directly teach students the elements of writing they should recognize in a mentortext.2. Have the student(s) read the mentor text. The text can be read aloud with thestudent(s) or read individually.3. Have the student answer the questions in the worksheet below. The questions aredesigned to get the student(s) thinking and talking about the writing techniques andapproaches used by the writer in the mentor text.4. Provide time for students to write while attempting to emulate the mentor textwriter’s techniques and approaches in their own writing. Whether in the classroomor at home, join the students and write alongside them.

Improve Your Writing Using Mentor Texts1) In five sentences or less, describe the main point and content of the mentor text.2a) Literary text: What point of view (first, second, or third person) did the writer use?Why do you think the writer chose that point of view? How would the story change if itwas written from a different point of view?2b) Informational text: From what perspective was the text written? How would theinformation change if told from a different perspective?

3a) Literary text: What do you notice about the narrative structure of the mentor text?Can you be specific about particular structures used such as character development,setting, plot, foreshadowing, flashback, etc.? What was the writer trying to accomplishoverall with the text, and how did the narrative structure choices the writer made help withthat?3b) Informational text: What do you notice about the structure or organization of theinformation in the mentor text? Can you be specific about what text structure was used?Common text structures include: Description, cause and effect, comparison/contrast,order/sequence, and problem-solution. What was the writer trying to accomplish overallwith the text, and how did his or her text structure choices help with that?4) What do you notice about the word choice the mentor text writer used? Identify a wordor phrase the writer used effectively. Why did the writer choose to use them? What wasthe author trying to accomplish?

5) Identify another technique used by the writer. What did you like about the writer’s useof this technique? What did the writer’s use of the technique attempt to convey to thereader? Was the writer successful?6) How would you describe the technique or approach the writer used for the firstparagraph or lead of the mentor text? Why do you think the writer chose to use thattechnique or approach?7) How would you describe the technique or approach the writer used for ending thementor text? Why do you think the writer chose to use that technique or approach?

8) What techniques or approaches will you take from this mentor text and apply to yourown writing? Be specific. It must be something you can point to in the mentor text.9) How will you apply the technique or approach to your writing?10) Identify one technique or approach from the text that you have used before in yourown writing. Describe how you used it, and how it went.11) If you want to know more about the choices the writer made when composing thementor text, what one question would you ask the writer to help you think through similarchoices when you are writing?

more on what constitutes a good mentor text, read "Using Mentor Texts to Learn From the Best and Improve Students' Writing" by Sean Thompson and Dr. Deborah K. Reed. Instructions 1. Directly teach students the elements of writing they should recognize in a mentor text. 2. Have the student(s) read the mentor text.

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