Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Workshop Wednesday - Mentor Texts

I'm linking up to Ideas by Jivey's wonderful Workshop Wednesday linky. This week's topic is using mentor texts in writing.

As a fifth grade teacher with the heart and soul of a 1st and 2nd grade teacher, I just can't get away from using picture books. I teach writer's workshop in a typical mini-lesson then write/conference way, but that mini-lesson involves a picture book more often than not.

I'm sharing two by the same author today that I use to teach word choice. 

The first is Crickwing by Janell Cannon. Her writing is chock full of interesting words. I actually took this book and rewrote the first five pages using less detail and less interesting words. I don't tell the kids anything about it at first, I just start reading...

The kids quickly realize that this book is just dead boring. That's when I reveal that I made some changes and I go back and read the first couple pages to them with the good word choice. The kids are able to pinpoint that it is the good word choice that help make the story interesting. We talk about this briefly and then I have the kids look through their writing folder and find a work sample or two to "spice up."

The next book I use is Verdi by Janell Cannon. This book is another great example of word choice. There is a decent amount of dialogue in the book and the author clearly has heard the old "Said is Dead" motto. I have gone through the book and highlighted a few things. The first is her use of interesting and precise language, and the second is the way she uses "said" sparingly. Her characters grumble and chide and admonish and so on. We talk for a bit about how the kids could use more precise language than just "said" when they describe the way a character speaks. 

There's nothing better than reading my kiddos' reading response journals over the weekend and seeing them use this in their writing. 

In other news: First day of parent conferences went off without a hitch! It's so great to be able to fill parents in on all the great progress their kids have made this year. I love seeing how proud the kids are in front of their parents. 

As much as I want to have a normal day of school, I am totally looking forward to Friday and Monday. Friday is a day off for everyone. Monday is an in-service day for teachers.  I went to a workshop over the summer about deliberation in the classroom, so I have accrued enough "trade time" to get the day off! 

Then we have 3 normal school days next week (FINALLY!) and on Friday we're taking our 5th grade field trip to Philly. And that day promises to be the longest day of my life!

Be sure to check out the other Workshop Wednesday links if you haven't already. I saw some great ideas out there! Adios for now!


  1. Love these ideas!! Thanks so much for linking up!

  2. I love Janell Cannon's books. Glad to hear your conferences today went well!
    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  3. I love Verdi-never thought about using it for dialogue/said tags-thanks for sharing! Thanks for stopping by my blog and I'm now your newest follower!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  4. I LOVE Crickwing! I will definitely try your method of reading it in a "dull" way before adding in her awesome word choice.

    Thanks for the idea!

    Joy in the Journey


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