11 Mini-Mentors for Review Writing

A mentor text doesn’t have to be an entire article or lengthy passage. Sometimes just a couple of sentences provides a writer with the guidance and inspiration they need to move forward as a writer.

This year, I’m continuing to use a few full-length mentor texts in each unit of writing, but I am also focusing on using more mini-mentors, a sentence or two that can give my writers an extra dose of writing instruction. By doing this, I’m bringing even more voices into my writing classroom and building independence in my writers.

To this end, each month I will be giving you and your students a handful of mini-mentor texts in some commonly-taught genres! Up first — review writing.

Mini-Mentors for Review Writing

This month, I’m sharing 11 mini-mentor texts that will help students with three common writing tasks within review writing: getting started, giving a synopsis of the text they are reviewing, articulating the theme of the text.

You can download your own copy of this document here:

How You Might Use These Mini-Mentors

You can use these in so many ways within a review-writing unit:

  • You could horde these for yourself + dole them out as whole-class sentence studies. Allison and I love using sentence studies as a warm up at the beginning of class. Students simply 1) notice something about the way it is written 2) consider why the writer might have made that choice / the effect on the reader 3) give it a name that makes sense to them and describes what that move does in the sentence (I’ve done this for my students in the chart above) 4) decide what they will try in their own writing.
  • You could study these in small groups of students who need/are ready for a little bit more.
  • Offer these to students individually if they have had a lot of practice with mentor texts in the past. They can self-select what they need, make some noticings, and take the writing moves into their own pieces. You can check in on this through writing conferences.
  • Could you use these for a DIFFERENT writing genre? Sure! Use these any time students need to begin a piece of analytical writing, give a synopsis, or articulate a theme.

How I Compiled These (So You Can Compile Your Own)

Yes, I know you love RESOURCES, but what kind of teacher would I be if I didn’t try to help you do this on your own? After all, the genres I teach may not be the genres you teach, and you could find yourself in need of some different mini-mentor sets this year! Here are some golden rules for creating these sets:

  • Limit the number of sources you’ll use and choose them in advance. Finding mentor texts (long or short) gets out of control when you allow yourself to look exhaustively. The problem with being exhaustive in your hunt is that it will easily take you FOREVER. You’ll never be finished, and you’ll drive yourself crazy. Instead, choose in advance how many sources you will allow yourself to use and what those sources will be. I said, “I am only using two: The New York Times and NPR.” This saved me considerable time.
  • Limit the number of writing moves you will teach through the mini-mentors. I knew that beginning a review, writing a synopsis, and articulating a theme were skills to which I was not going to dedicate mini-lesson time. Some were skills I taught last year, others were just not top priorities. But, I can squeeze in some of that extra teaching/review through my mini-mentors! From the get-go, I told myself I would only find mentor texts demonstrating different moves for achieving these three skills. I could have found LOADS of other things to show students, but I limited it for my sake and for theirs.
  • Find at least 2-3 mini-mentors for each skill. This is important for showing different writers’ choices. We never want to give our students writing formulas, and a mentor text becomes just one more formula when we only offer one. So, for each skill you want to show students, find at least two mini-mentors that show a way of attacking that.

I would love to hear how you use these in your class and what they help your students achieve as writers! Leave a comment below, connect with us on Facebook, or let me know what you think on Twitter (@RebekahODell1).

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