Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Writers Use Mentor Texts ~By Suzy Leopold

Writers know the value of reading mentor texts. 

My students at Lincoln Land Community College, know the value of reading mentor texts. Students in my classroom read for pleasure becoming proficient readers. Through daily reading, freshman learn how to write and make improvements with their writing.

Mentor texts can be used in a variety of ways for all students and writers. Mentor texts become powerful models to inspire students and writers.

There are times when I share direct instruction to guide students and model for them good writing elements and what to look for.

"Let's look at what real writers are doing. Let's see how 
we can learn from these writers." 
Ralph Fletcher, Author

A shorter reading passage can be used as a mentor text to focus students' attention with a mini-lesson.
I picked these flowers for you
from my 2018 garden.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Here's an example of a mini-lesson using direct instruction along with what I might say . . .

Today's lesson includes author's word choice. Let's read, and look for word choices made by the author on these two pages.

Now reread. This time as you read, jot down and write as you answer these questions:

1. Do you note active verbs?
2. What word did the author chose? Think of a synonym that may work.
3. Did you find interesting figurative language, such as a metaphor?

I don't always require students to focus on a particular concept, such as word choice. Some lessons are less structure, allowing students to discover what is working in a piece of writing. As an educator, I must encourage higher order thinking through the six steps of Bloom's Taxonomy [there are several variations of Bloom's Taxonomy--a cognitive development tool]. The highest level of learning takes place is through evaluating. To do so, students are judging the value of the material being read for a given purpose.

Click on the link again and you'll note active verbs used by students for this learning outcome: evaluate, appraise, assess, compare, and so forth.

"Every writer, no matter how skilled you are or how beginning 
you are, encounters and reads something that can 
lift and inform and infuse their own writing."
Ralph Fletcher, Author

Writers and readers use mentor texts to discover why writers are successful. Reading and examining books as model texts encourages readers and writers to become better at the craft of writing.

Mentor texts are powerful tools--books that students and writers can learn from, glean from and eventually affects your writing in positive ways.

There are numerous methods for reading and examining mentor texts to support students and writers.

I'll share a mini-lesson on the Book Head Heart Reading Framework.

The BHH model was developed by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst. They are the authors of DISRUPTING THINKING WHY HOW WE READ MATTERS.

"What do we mean by Book, Head, and Heart?
This is a simply a short, telegraphic phrase to suggest 
that we need to pay attention to the text, to our thoughts about it, 
and to what we feel and how we might have changed, 
no matter how slightly, as a result of reading."
Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst

BHH Reading
The BHH framework is a great tool for students and writers to stop, notice, and note.
Reading carefully requires a certain amount of stamina, concentration, and patience. There are moments when a reader needs to slow down and ask what is working and what isn't.

Open up a mentor text and read it. Now read the story for a second time--better yet, read it aloud. Consider using the BHH Reading Framework. Find several ideas that can be used as a take-away to make your own writing polished and satisfying.

Next month as you participate in ReFoReMo, with coordinators and contributors, embrace mentor texts in a way that makes room for your meaning to improve your writing.

Check out these Picture books by Ralph Fletcher
This tab shares books for writing teachers and there are excellent tips for all writers on the teacher hangout tab.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Cabin Fever Writing Month

By the time February comes 'round, writers in my neck of the woods get cranky. Stir crazy. Apt to toss computers out the window and into the snow.

It's Cabin Fever time. But this year a bunch of us have a remedy: Cabin Fever Writing Month. At the back table in the library. Bring your own coffee; chocolate will be provided. Along with heat, books, and a feeling of neighborliness without the demands of making conversation.

You see, we plan to write. Because every one of us took a look at the calendar when NaNoWriMo came along and rolled our eyes.

"A guy must have come up with November," we agreed. After all, there were turkeys to catch, pies to bake, community harvest dinners, family dinners, getting a head start on overseas holiday cards...

"Let's do it next year," we said. Nothing ever happens in February. Sure, there are holidays - Groundhog Day, Lunar New Year, President's Day, Valentine's Day - but nothing requiring pies. Or turkeys. So this month we're pulling out those outlines for novels, our scribbled thoughts for a short story, and picture book manuscripts that got shoved aside during the holidays. We're tucking folders and laptops and thermoses full of hot cocoa or coffee into our book bags and heading to the library. On Wednesdays. To write. With our friends.

Who knows? Maybe we'll actually finish that draft, or turn a few StoryStorm ideas into completed stories.

Because this time next month the sky will be brighter, the days longer, and the world will smell like spring. So this is it, my friends. Sharpen your pencils and get those words onto the page before the ice melts and the sap starts runnin'.