Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mentor Texts...Using a Touchstone Text

At the beginning of a unit, I always create a mentor text basket. I have it out and available for students to read from during writing workshop and reading workshop, so that students can access the texts whenever they want.  One of the best things that I have ever done as a writing teacher was to select one touchstone text from my mentor text collection to use over and over in my mini lessons for each unit.  The touchstone text is the book that we are going to continuously go back to and read as a writer to look at strategies for that genre. I certainly will reference or go back to other texts too, but I alway begin a mini lesson by looking back at the touchstone text.


For my narrative unit, I like to use the touchstone text Thunder Cakes by Patricia Polacco.  I love this book for so many reasons.  First I love Patricia Polacco, so reading this book and referencing it multiple times opens up for a mini author study/exposure as well.  Second, I love the touching story of a little girl who overcomes her fear of thunder with her grandmother's help. I think this is a common fear with the littles, so they can totally relate to the story.  Third, it is a great story about traditions (which we study later in the year, and bring this story back out)  Finally, I can't get over the word choice in this book! It is amazing!!!

From this book alone, I can get the following mini lessons:

  1. What is a narrative
  2. Problem/solution in a narrative
  3. Small moments in a narrative
  4. Sharing your lesson in your narrative
  5. Word Choice
  6. Transition words
  7. Sound words (onamonapias)
  8. Emotion words
This is just one of many of the stories that ends up in our mentor texts basket for narrative writing.  Some others include:
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolk
  • The Art Lesson by Tomie deploy
  • A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
  • Fire Flies by Julie Brinckloe
  • Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
  • When the Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
I would encourage you to look at the many ways that you can use these texts for more than one lesson, and find your own touchstone texts that work to your teaching style.

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