Friday, October 21, 2016

Mentor Texts

Mentor Texts:
A Teacher to Student or Student to Student Feedback Strategy

After our Feedback training, I noticed many questions in the agenda about mentor texts. So, I wanted to dive a little deeper into this technique.

A mentor text is any text that a teacher uses to exemplify and teach a writing strategy or concept.
- Mentor texts can be written by professional authors, or can be revised student exemplars.
- Mentor texts can be used to teach writing skills (like the 6 traits of writing) or mechanics/grammar.
- Mentor texts can be from any genre and can be literary or informational.
- Teachers can use the entire mentor text or just a small part of it during instruction.

When a teacher uses a mentor text to show students what is expected, that is teacher to student feedback. When revised student work is used as a mentor text, that is a student to student feedback strategy.

Here are some videos:

This is a great introduction to mentor texts. The second half of the video, she talks through popular texts that can be used as mentor texts for specific skills or concepts.

This video shows the use of mentor text to teach one specific grammar rule (adding -ed to past tense verbs).

This is a longer video without HD quality, but it is worth the time to view it. It shows a complete mini-lesson on 6th grade narrative writing. The teacher uses a mentor text to help students revise ending to narrative pieces. This video is also a good example of partnering during large group instruction.

Finally, here are a few more helpful links:
- Scholastic resources with 6 traits of writing. You can click on each of the 6 traits and find a detailed list of books that can be used as mentor texts for that trait and suggestions for using them:
- For those of you on Pinterest, this board is one of the most complete I could find on mentor texts:

I love using mentor texts. In fact, my entire 9th grade short story unit was designed around them. During the unit, kids read several short stories that exemplified various writing techniques (unreliable narrator, irony, unusual setting, etc). Then, during the final project, kids choose one technique to work on in their own writing. During this process, they also accessed mentor texts from other students: short stories from previous years that were exceptional. However, mentor text are absolutely not just for Language Arts. They can be employed anytime you want to show kids an expert example of a specific type of writing.

Do you use mentor texts in your class? Feel free to share your ideas below.

Monday, October 17, 2016

WICOR Magnents

For those of you who were unable to attend the October 1st Friday PD, this post is a review of Essential Questions, WICOR, and how to use the Essential Question and WICOR magnets in 4th-9th grade classrooms.

Essential Questions and WICOR are key components of the AVID program. This year, our AVID site team wants to work on expanding AVID strategies school-wide. While we have always included these in the AVID elective and in some classrooms, our next step is to integrate AVID into all areas of our school (when age appropriate).

Essential Questions:
  • Essential Questions are objectives for the day that are in student-friendly language and written as questions. 
  • Kids should be able to answer the question when the lesson is done.
  • They can be easily transferred to Cornell Notes. 
  • They can replace “I can” statements or traditional objectives. 
Examples of Essential Questions:
  • What were at least three main factors that contributed to the Great Depression? 
  • What are the procedures for Read to Self during Daily 5?
  • What is the main conflict of the story Bullfrog at Magnolia Circle? 
  • What are the four states of matter, and what is an example of each? 
How some teachers are using EQs:
  • Kids write the EQ in their planners before beginning bell work. 
  • Kids write an answer to the EQ as an exit ticket.
  • The teacher references the EQ at the beginning and end of class. 

    Why use WICOR in your classroom? 
    • It increases rigor so kids are more prepared for high school and college. 
    • It promotes higher-level thinking. 
    • It increases student accountability and opportunities to respond.
    • WICOR strategies can be used in any subject area.  
    Why use the WICOR magnets to label your WICOR? 
    • It builds the AVID culture of our school
    • It builds a common language
    • It sends the message to kids that some skills transfer from class to class
    Examples of how teachers are using the WICOR magnets in their class: 



    Thank you to Mrs. Banta, Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Means, and Mrs. Darby for the great examples.

    Get a downloadable copy of the handout presented Friday 10/7 with dozens of WICOR ideas here: WICOR Ideas Handout.

    Feel free to post and questions or comments below!