My students have been working on their first pieces of serious analytical writing this year, and as they drafted I noticed two main issues with their claims:
- Many were not clearly or obviously stated
- Some were overly-simple, cliched, or, to be honest, boring
Ever have these problems?
(Always? Are you like me and you always have these problems?)
So, I turned to mini mentors. And this is a process you can easily replicate if you use mentor texts in your writing units. All I did was go through our mentor texts and pull out the claims the writers made. I didn’t find extra mentor texts. I didn’t spend hours searching for some kind of platonic ideal of a claim. I simply went to the texts we had already studied in our unit + grabbed examples of those writer’s moves when making a claim, pulled them out to highlight for my students, and we went to work.
For our purposes, I wanted to students to “try on” each claim with their own idea to see what would work best. So I wrote each on a piece of chart paper and hung them around the room to create stations. I gave students a place to play with each type of claim, and asked them to ultimately choose ONE after trying all of them.
Here are a few of the results:
“Fishing is a good pastime, hiking is fun to do with friends and/or family, but mountain biking is all of those things and more packed into a thrill-filled package.” – Jack
“Moana encapsulates the iconic Disney princess theme and takes a new turn on some of Disney’s old ways of the princesses. That is why Moana is without question the best Disney princess movie — a diverse plot, catchy tunes, and lovable sidekicks. ” – Madison
“Watch The Kissing Booth and you’ll see what I mean: this movie should definitely be trashed.” – Olivia
Whether you use these claims or different claims from the mentor texts you’re studying, zooming in on just one element of a larger mentor text can have fantastic, fast results in students’ writing.
Want my whole roundtable analysis unit?
I shared this entire unit with all mentor texts and mini-lessons in the Moving Writers Community. Members receive a reading or writing unit each month plus access to our entire archives of unit plans!
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