Saturday, March 29, 2014

Finally Trying Out Mentor Sentences

Over the past week we are back from Spring Break and starting quarter 3.  The last couple weeks I have put a lot of time and effort into trying to really plan out the last 10 weeks of school.  It always feels so hard to decide what needs to be covered and what doesn't.  I attended a teacher workshop about four years ago where someone told me about Jeff Anderson and his book Everyday Editing.

I immediately bought the book and really wanted to try to start using mentor sentences.  It always seemed like so much work to have the time to pick out sentences, so I never implemented it.  I decided that this quarter would be the perfect time to try it out. I have been trying to plan out what sentences I would use and matching those to the different texts I am using to introduce writing units.  We are doing a genre study for Reading and working on writing narratives for writing.  Then, we will do a novel study and some opinion writing.  Then, we will cover some poetry and lastly review over nonfiction text structures. That comes up the rest of the year.

I was researching resources for mentor sentences.  The best place to start is Ideas by Jivey.
Ideas by Jivey

She has some great blog posts and some great picture book mentor sentence units.  I purchased some of her units.  I am using some of her books, but using some of hers gave me a starting point where I felt motivated to pull out some sentences of my own with other mentor texts I knew I wanted to use.

There also some other TpT sellers who have made some mentor sentence units that are not dependent on a mentor text.  I think this sounds like a great idea if you just want to match it to any curriculum plan. If you do not use a lot of mentor texts, this would be a good way to go. Here are a couple options:

Amber Thomas - 4th grade mentor sentence packs (These seem like a good option, especially if you teach fourth grade.)

Jen Bengel - Monthly interactive edits (These have monthly themed sentences.  I tried these in December.  You make observations about the sentences, but the students are not asked to create their own sentences inspired by the mentor sentence.  The themes are cute though and would work well for a center.)

I personally love the idea of matching it to a mentor text because you can tie it to other writing or reading lessons to always show the interconnectedness of great reading and writing.  I think also encourages students to look for great sentences in what they read.  It shows that we should pay attention to the way writers create great description. We got started this week. I had my students go through the process of writing the sentence in cursive, noticing the sentence structure and then creating their own sentences.  I created this form.  You can have a free copy HERE.

This week we used a mentor sentence from the book Crow Call by Lois Lowry.

We are working on personal narratives, and this is a great text for discussing small moments and sensory detail.  I just put the sentence on the board this week.

This was my sentence inspired by the mentor sentence.  I was showing them it did not have to be as long, but they needed to have two complete sentences joined by a semi-colon and try to use some description in their sentence.

Here were some of my students' sentences.  Overall, I think it was a good start with mentor sentences. Some were more descriptive than others, but they still tried to mimic the sentence structure. 

I am hoping to start having them find some sentences in their reading that we could use.  We will be starting a novel unit soon. Have you tried mentor sentences?

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