I attended the TCRWP August Writing Institute and on Day Two of the Institute, Ralph Fletcher, was the Keynote Speaker! At lunchtime, he signed my copies of Fig Pudding and Talking Trees, two books that I loved read this past year. Then I stopped at the bookstore and purchased a collection of his poems. I should rename August 6th as Ralph Fletcher Day!! His Keynote focused on using Mentor Texts. Here are my notes:
We need not teach alone – we have mentor texts!
“In order to write well, you first have to be flattened by a book” Stephen King
He shared his poem Sometimes I Remember and he asked us to write a poem starting with the same first 2 lines and ending with the same last lines. Fun, easy exercise to write successfully as a poet!
- Read books and poems that you love. Kids will sense your delight and be motivated to become readers themselves.
- Take advantage of “micro-text” what can be read in one sitting. Ex: The Other Side – great ending!
- Talk about the author behind the book.
- Try not to interrupt the 1st reading of the book. Then reread it to do craft work.
- Leave time for students’ natural responses
- Reread for craft. “I read everything twice. Once to enjoy it and once to steal everything I can from the author.” Robert Cohen
- Design a spiral of minilessons around a craft element. Ex: character – first share info, then example from literature, then from teacher writing, then from student writing.
- Use the share session to reinforce the craft lesson you introduced in the minilesson.
- Invite (don’t assign) students to use their WN to experiment with the craft elements you are teaching.
- Be patient.
Bonus: Don’t squeeze all the juice out of the mentor text.
Quote by his sister, Elaine:
“You have to keep making your life bigger because things keep getting pulled out of it.”
We can make our classrooms bigger by bringing in mentor texts.