Writing Lesson of the Month Network

...sharing thoughtful, mentor text-inspired lessons your students will love!

In the box below, you can type or paste your mentor text review.  Once yours is posted, look over a few of the other class members' reviews and activity ideas; can you add a comment that suggests, extends upon, or clarifies an idea?

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Broken Arrow Boy
By Adam Moore
What’s great about this book is that it is written by a nine year old boy. He includes pictures and quotes and notes and letters. He was at camp and fell on an arrow that went through his eyelid and “slipped between two arteries in his brain”. He writes this story of his courageous fight to heal.
Give each student a 3 x 5 index card. Say, “write something about yourself that most people in the room do not know.”
Collect the cards, read each aloud. The students are to guess who wrote each item and tell why they think that person is the one on the card.
As they listen to you reading the cards, they can write down ideas that they thought of while listening to the cards being read, ideas they heard that reminded them of from their own lives or maybe they want to make up a story (told from first person) if an idea strikes them as something they could write about. It’s all about ideas.
Read a segment of Broken Arrow Boy. I think this works best when read over the course of no more than one week. As they listen, have them write down words, phrases, techniques that they think make the writing “really good”.
Discuss these at the conclusion of each segment or you may want to just let them write without disrupting their thought process.
The important thing is that before you start reading the book, each student has an idea of what s/he is going to write about.
Memoir Writing Lesson using a mentor text

The Magic of Mo by Lyndi Cooper-Schroeder

What’s good about this book: The idea of using photos to tell a story. Big idea of the book (that there is magic in all of us) is an idea we all want to believe. (It’s probably easier for kids to believe than for us as adults.)

Here’s the lesson:

Day 1: Before reading the book out loud, ask students to think about people, places, animals and things that matter to them. After you have thought about it, make a list or write a cluster, or draw a mind map that will help you remember all your ideas and get them down on paper.

Day 2: Show them and tell them some of the people that matter to me: my family; more specifically for this project, my grandchildren. I wanted to write a special book for each grandchild, and share my beliefs and values with them. “There’s magic in all of us.” (Note: the idea came from beautiful fairy costumes that I’d found for two of my granddaughters.)

With a lot of anticipation (and not a little trepidation, since I’m the author), read the book aloud.
When I finished, ask the students what they noticed about the story. Was it good? What makes it good? (Note there was a subtext—maybe explain that)

HOMEWORK: Bring in some photos or drawings of people, places, animals, and things that matter to YOU. (You can refer to the list or mind map you made)

Day 3: Get out your list and your photos or drawings. What feelings and ideas are going through your mind? Is there a story? Talk about what comes first—the pictures or the story?
(For me, I had the main idea I wanted to convey, and the photos I’d collected dictated the story)

I’m betting that they are now ready to begin their stories!
Fancy Nancy written by Jane O’Connor
Fancy Nancy is a young girl who explains her unique viewpoints on living an actively exaggerated lifestyle. This story begins, “I love being fancy.” She goes on to define fancy through all of her daily experiences, which most students can relate to. Even though it’s frilly and a bit prissy, Nancy exemplifies how to drastically embellish even the simplest daily event through her vocabulary and family interactions.

Writing Trait focus: Idea Development
Choose interesting, high-quality details to write when describing important characters, action words to enhance written descriptions and use a thoughtful balance of transforming “telling sentences” into “showing sentences”. Example: “Ooo-la-la! My family is posh! ... My mom twirls in front of the mirror.”

Writing Trait focus: Word Choice
Encourage students to take risks to incorporate interesting adjectives and verbs into descriptive writing by playing with and celebrating words. “Then I get an idea that is stupendous.”

Student Prompt: Select and write a personal narrative about yourself centering around one word that best describes who you are. Begin with, “I love being ______”.
After brainstorming a variety of daily activities, add descriptive details and organize your ideas into interesting examples of showing what a typical day in your life is like, with embellishments of course. As Nancy did, you may show an example of teaching another to follow your example or finish with what is essentially important to you.




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