Monday, September 19, 2011

Mentor Texts For Writer's Workshop

My personal collection of Six Trait Texts! I use this collection to teach the different traits to my students. I really enjoy using the Six Traits model for writing instruction. I find that once the students learn the traits, it empowers them to improve their own writing, rather than it always being the teacher who corrects and offers ideas. This month and next month we will focus primarily on the trait of Ideas. The six traits are: Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency and Conventions. The trait of Conventions is just naturally woven into our school year. Below are a few lessons that I use to teach the traits, this is by no means comprehensive, but they are some of my favorite lessons to teach.  Many of the lessons I have picked up at trainings and adapted here and there to fit my group of students. 

Ideas: "Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street" by Roni Schotter - This is a great book to discuss where authors get ideas from. The beginning of the book begins with a teacher giving the student an assignment, saying, "Write about what you know." The student sits on her front steps and waits for something to happen on 90th street, then she scribbles in her notebook, "Nothing ever happens on 90th street," and the story goes from there. Read it, its a great book!
Organization: "Tuesday" by David Weisner - I share the book with my students, then as a class we write the words to the beginning, middle and end. We talk about the most important parts in the book and go from there. We also have a discussion as to how the author was able to organize his writing / pictures without really writing to many words, but how we were able to create images in our mind because of the organization.
Voice: "Too Many Toys" by David Shannon- "Spencer had too many toys. They covered the floor of his bedroom and piled up in his closet." What kid couldn't imagine that?! The kids can really relate to the "voice" David Shannon chose to use in this book. I do an activity with this where I write different people on the white board, for example: Principle, Mom, Dad, Friend, Teacher, Grandparent, etc and we talk about what they might say to Spencer, the boy who has too many toys. It's great to see the character voices the kids come out with. Another fun activity to do with this same idea is the idea of a Snow Day and have the students comment on what type of a voice the snow plower might have, the teacher, the babysitter, the parents, the kid, etc. They are usually pretty accurate!
Word Choice: "Go Away, Big, Green Monster" by Ed Emberley. I use this book to introduce word choice. I do not show the students the front of the book, or the pages as I read it to them. I give each student a piece of paper and coloring materials. As I read each page, the students draw what they hear, at the end I have them share their drawings. We talk about how details and descriptions (word choice) are important to writing and creating images in the readers mind.
Sentence Fluency: "I Ain't Gonna Paint No More" by Karen Beaumont. This author bases the story tune off of the song, "It ain't gonna rain, no more." We listen to the start of the song first and then I read the book. The kids always pick up on the tune and try to sing along with the text, I ain't gonna paint no more.
Conventions: "Punctuation Takes a Vacation" by Robin Pulver. This is a cute story about punctuation that takes a vacation, but the kids start to miss punctuation as everything they read is making no sense to them, so they send a card apologizing and punctuation returns. For this lesson, I give the kids a paragraph of writing without any punctuation and they partner up and try to find all of the missing punctuation marks. Kids that are able to find all of the mistakes, get to choose a "special punctuation pencil" and eraser for their writing.

To see other Mentor Texts used by other Teachers, head on over to Funky First Grade Fun to view the linky party.
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  1. Welcome to the BLOG world! I am following you now...I hope you will do the same for me:)

    The Schroeder Page

  2. WOW I love this post. I always struggle with how to teach 6 traits. I will be trying this.

  3. Look at you getting all fancy with different font colors while posting- you go girl!

    Teaching Blog Addict
    ♥Teaching with TLC

  4. This is a great post! Thanks for the list of texts!

    Down Under Teacher

  5. Thanks for linking up! I love the way you organized your post according to the six traits - very helpful! I'm going to try the Go Away Big, Green Monster activity next week.
    Funky First Grade Fun

  6. Great suggestions! Thank you for sharing ^_^

  7. Love this idea. I may even give my daughter's first grade teacher some of these books for Christmas.

  8. I will be checking out these books stat!

  9. I was wondering if you would be able to list all of the books fromm your mentor list?

    1. Hi Jessica, thanks for your message! I will try to compile a list of them all in the next few weeks. I'd do it sooner but school starts next week and I'm sure I'll be busy at first!

  10. Thanks for sharing great ideas for mentor texts.

  11. I love these ideas and plan to use them right away to help my Kindergarten students. Thanks for sharing!