28 Mini-Mentors for Prompt-Based Writing

Catch up on my series this fall. Last month I shared mini-mentors for review writing!

Sadly, some students only write in response to prompts in English class. Whether it’s daily journaling prompts or larger essay prompts, these students miss out on one of the toughest parts of an authentic writing practice: developing ideas.

Still, both your students and mine will encounter some prompt-based writing situations. Whether state testing or high school/college admissions essays or a writing sample on a job interview, there will be times when our writers will be handed a prompt and expected to perform.

And these instances are almost always high-pressure, high-stress, and high-stakes.

So while we never want to limit our students to an academic career of prompt-based writing only, we’d also be negligent if we did nothing to prepare them for these special writing scenarios.

As my students prepare for high school admissions writing, I put together 28 mini-mentors to help them begin a piece of prompt-based writing (in a way that isn’t simply restating the prompt), transition between ideas in prompt-based writing, and conclude a piece of prompt-based writing.

I had to really stretch this time to find authentic mentor texts for writing-to-a-prompt. I relied on Colby Sharp’s collection The Creativity Project, Breakfast on Mars (recommended by Emily Meixner on Twitter), this collection of essays from The New York Times, and this collection of letters solicited by the editors of Voices from the Middle.

(I have a lot more to say about prompt-based writing — including an entire unit plan with mini-lessons and resources — in this month’s Moving Writers Community unit! You can learn more about our community and sign up here.)

Here are the mini-mentors, ready for you to use individually with students, in small groups, or as a whole class:

Get your own copy of all the mini-mentors here!

What predictable problems do students need to solve when writing to a prompt? What might they need mentor texts for? Where could you find authentic mentors who are also writing to prompts? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!


  1. Hi Rebekah! Thank you for some fabulous mentors. It’s perfect timing as my writers are diving into NYT Student Opinion. I’m having trouble with accessing this post though. When I click on it, it doesn’t take me to the website like it usually does to get a full view. Same when I click on the [cid:0f1c8639-e578-409d-baff-a562b7a003f8]

    Jodi Stevens Union High School x7478 Learner National Board Certified / English Teacher / WSUV Adjunct What I’m currently reading: [cid:fee9fcd8-9464-4fd3-818d-36ccf48dbb14][cid:1792d9c7-c4a6-46cd-89fa-d47b8bce82b6][cid:35ef90ea-ddc8-4b29-ad59-657675db2a99] ________________________________

  2. Hi,

    I cannot open the beautiful resource you posted. The message from google reads:

    Sorry, unable to open the file at this time.

    Please check the address and try again.

    Get stuff done with Google Drive

    Apps in Google Drive make it easy to create, store and share online documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more.

    Learn more at drive.google.com/start/apps.

    Can you help me get access?

    Thank you for your work and help. I just signed up for the newsletter, and I am so grateful for your everything!



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