Mentor Text Wednesday: Possible Subtitles

Mentor Text: Possible Subtitles by Mari Andrew



  • Memoir
  • Analyzing Rhetoric
  • Explaining a quote
  • Pre-writing

Background: If you’re a member of the Moving Writers community, then the work of Mari Andrew is familiar. We’re all big fans, and have been using her work in our classrooms. We’re all probably buying her book this week too. There is something so powerful and real in the honesty and openness that she puts into the pieces that she shares on Twitter and Instagram. They’re wonderfully accessible and inspiring for students, making them some of our favorite Mentor Texts.

Last week, I stole a few phone moments while I waited for my family. As is generally the case when a Mari Andrew post comes across my screen, I flagged it for future use. As I often do, I retweeted the post. (Usually under my #nowherenearmynotebook tag.) As I wrote an accompanying tweet, I realized how versatile this particular image was.

That’s the very best thing about a mentor text, or really anything that we can bring into our classroom – the ability to use it in more than one way with your students. A really good mentor text is versatile, and can be used in a variety of ways. Mari Andrew’s pieces are like that. I’ve used many of them as prompts for memoir writing, but I’ve also used them to explore vocabulary, or as inspirations for other writing pieces. I love using her pieces, because there is a simplicity and accessibility in her work. As I work to encourage students to express themselves visually, her work is an example of how it can look, and that it doesn’t need to be perfect, and that honesty is actually more important than skill. It’s nice putting a piece of art in front of a student, and having confidence they can easily do a version of their own.

How We Might Use This Text:

Writing Memoir – So many of Mari’s pieces are little slices of memoir. I’ve used so many of them to inspire my students to craft memoir pieces. We draw a piece like hers, and then extend it through writing.

I love this piece for that purpose. What is something that someone has said to you? As you reflect upon what they said, what could they have meant? How could their statement be interpreted? The openness of this piece is what draws me to it, they way she lays bare her thoughts, hopes and doubts. How powerful would something like this be for young people?

Analysing Rhetoric – When we have students looking at writing, we are often asking them to look for a deeper meaning. This piece is lovely, because it models an approach to this. Here’s what the person has to say, and here are various interpretations of it. They would have to consider the context in which the words were delivered, consider who said them, and how those things may lead to a bias, impacting the meaning of the statement. It’s possible to have this act as the basis of an entire piece of writing related to that one statement.

Analyzing Quotes – Similarly, we could use this when looking at literature. They can pull a line from any text, and ponder the possible meanings of that line. Again, context could be a factor. If critical lenses are applied, that can add a depth to this analysis. There is also an opportunity to connect to larger ideas or themes, as well as for them to interpret the quote. Imagine a literary analysis piece in which the students pick a quote they feel is The Most Important Quote In The Text and wrote an essay explaining why, using this as a mentor text for brainstorming.

Pre-Writing – I honestly think this piece works as an amazing pre-writing strategy. I’m always looking for ways to get students to expand their writing around the material that they quote in their essays. I’ve used the Says/Means/Matters approach in the past, but I’ll be adding this one. If they are pulling apart a quote or a statement, and listing what they might mean, then they are generating the material they need to write more developed analysis when requested. I foresee a future in which a step in our essay writing prep is to put the quotes we’re planning to use. I think it would generate some more thoughtful writing, as opposed to the clunky quote sandwich paragraphs we regularly receive.

It’s easy to be a fan of Mari Andrew’s work. It speaks to the heart. Perhaps this is why students respond to it so well. The honesty, the openness, the very real nature of her work allows for so much connection. Her work is such a wonderful mix of illustration and writing, and an amazing inspiration for our writers to draw and write.

So, what Mari Andrew pieces have you used in your class? What else could we do with this one?

Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter @doodlinmunkyboy!


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