Friday, December 30, 2011

Poetry Mentor Text

My FAVORITE read-aloud while teaching a Poetry Unit:

Jack, the character in this book, taught me to love poetry, someone who never enjoyed this genre.
It always seems a mystery to me, symbolism I couldn't figure out. Now, thanks to Jack, I enjoy the shapes of poems, the rhythm, the sound, the beat. I can read it and not totally get it but I can always enjoy it!

My "bible" that I refer to when teaching poetry:

Georgia Heard's poetry ideas are easy to follow and kids respond so well to them!

Favorite poets to share with kids:
Jack Prelutsky - our nations 1st Children's Poet Laureate! You can see him reading his poems at the Library of Congress' Book Festival:
He also has a great website:

Mary Ann Hoberman - our nation's 2nd Poet Laureate! I especially like her poems for 2-voices!

J. Patrick Lewis - our present nation's Poet Laureate (from 2011-13) - I am a great fan of his shape poems!

Nikki Grimes - a fabulous African-American poet who grew up a reader but never saw herself in books. So she decided to write books with African-American characters. My favorite is Denitra Brown!

Shel Silverstein -  totally FUN to read-aloud his poems. Check out his website:

Valerie Worth - writes small poems; I also share her books with my most reluctant writers. It helps them to see that a poem can be just a few lines with just a few words per line.

Judith Viorst - a very funny poet!

Douglas Florian - I especially like his poems about the four seasons

Eloise Greenfield - Her poems have a great beat!

Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith - Science Verse is a must to share with reluctant boy readers.

Lee Bennett Hopkins - I especially liked reading his life story, written in poetry form in Been to Yesterdays.

Langston Hughes - I have a personal fondness for Dreams.

I started printing out the pictures of these poets and hanging them up above the stack of poetry books they wrote. This way kids would see that poets are men and women, black, and white, young and old and most are still alive. It felt almost like these poets, along with their books, were in our classroom!

Books you MUST have in your classroom while teaching a Poetry Unit:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Historical Fiction / Realistic Fiction Mentor Text

When the 4th grade was teaching the characteristics of realistic fiction and historical fiction and comparing the two genres, I suggested an author-study of Louise Borden.

Her realistic fiction books include:

And her historical fiction books include:

To see ALL her books, visit her informative website:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Grammar Mentor Text

As 5th graders in the state of VA prepare for the Writing SOL in March, I gathered these MENTOR texts to share as read-alouds or during a mini-lesson when reviewing grammar rules.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mentor Text in Writing Workshop - Essay Writing

While teaching students to write their BIG IDEA essays, I shared lots of essays written in the Washington Post newspaper. Every Thursday in the KidsPost, Fred Bowen writes a sports essay.  Link to Fred Bowen sports-related essays.

The December UVA Alumni Magazine pringted some of the Class of 2015's college essays. They also list at the end of the article, tips for writing a strong college essay. This is another good mentor essay resource!

Mentor Text in Writing Workshop - Small Moments

Here are MENTOR TEXTS that I have shared with students when teaching them how to write SMALL MOMENT PERSONAL NARRATIVES:


When guiding students to write a personal narrative, also called small moment stories, teachers can share a published picture book that is a small moment personal narrative. Students can listen to these Mentor Texts, noticing what the author is doing, noticing their craft. Maybe they pay attention to the lead, the way a moment is described, specific vocabulary words, the ending. Then they can choose to incorporate the craft they notice into their writing.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Way to Inspire and Motivate Readers and Writers to Keep Going

My very favorite part of the TC Reunion Saturday was when TCRWP Staff Developer, Lea Mercantini, shared the idea of reminding kids by using inspiring video clips that reading and writing IS hard but we must keep at it. She gave these three moving examples...
We must be a Jessica....and look in the mirror, eye to eye with ourselves and name the thing we are good at, as a writer and a reader. When writng and reading get hard, become Jessica and say "I can ________!" filling in the blank with your reading/writing strength.

We must tell kids that writers and readers try and try again. It is just like learning to ride a bike. We must shush the voice in our head that says "this is stupid" and "I'm not good at writing and reading." Instead, believe in yourself and work hard, like the bike rider tells us in this video:
And get the kleenex box before watching this inspiring video:
Then tell your students...don't you want to be like Derek...Let's be Derek!!
As readers and writers, let's push ourselves, knowing that the only way we can fail is if you don't try at all.

I hope we all can share these inspirational messages with a reader or writer in the near future!!