A Perfect Personification Mentor Text  

Conservation International 2016 

I stumbled across an amazing mentor text this last week that I couldn’t wait to share with you. The day I found it I had to show my students and engage with it. I hope it sparks something for you as well. 

Conservational International 6 years ago started a campaign using famous actors’ voices personifying elements of nature– with the tagline “nature doesn’t need us, we need nature.” They recruited people like Liam Niessan, Julia Roberts and Reece Witherspoon to narrate– and can I just say it’s GOLD. It’s a strong and engaging mentor that I HOPE you can use in many different ways. Below I will walk you through how my students used this mentor to dive deeper into voice, persuasion, personification and ecology. 

Prewrite 

Justlife Blog 

We begin our lesson by pulling out our notebook and making a list. I asked students to talk about how their partner’s words are synonymous with earth– I gave them 2 minutes to come up with a list. (I offered the idea of Mother being one word that is synonymous.) 

After a timer We came up with a master list words like 

Home

Mother 

Nature 

Land

Sphere

Planet 

Etc 

Then I asked students to put the word EARTH in the middle of a web in their writer’s notebooks. This time for our writing sprint students were going to come up  with words that are associated with earth but not specifically synonymous. I told them to think about how grass is associated with earth but isn’t the same thing as earth it’s an attribute. Then have the kids for 2 minutes we’ve all the words that associate to earth (these are ecosystem words from the beginning of the year in science).

Volcanos 

Rivers

Oceans

Soil

Mountains

Tundra

Sky

Living things 

Etc 

We made a big web on the board together after they brainstormed alone. We chatted about how all those things are vital to our earth because they are a part of it. They aren’t synonymous but our earth is nothing without them. 

Engaging the Mentor 

I then introduced them to the Conservation International campaign. 

I showed them 3 videos. After each of these videos 

Mother Earth

Mountain 

Home 

After each video we talked about two things: voice and author’s purpose . Surprisingly, each one of the videos my kids thought that the tone was angry. We talked about how voice can be more complex than happy, sad or angry but can also convey feelings like strength and determination. We compared all three videos together and talked about the similarities and differences. We also made a list of things we noticed they said.  

We have done personification poems before in my science and math classes, so the forma wasn’t new. If you haven’t check out my writing from the fall. We decided to create a personification poem being one of the attributes of Earth. I printed off the “mountains” lines. Using this mentor we talked through how the author wrote like he was the mountain. We also talked about the Conservationist International tagline,  “nature doesn’t need you, you need nature.”    

Composing 

I gave them a 10 minute timer to become a quick expert and answer some questions about their attribute:  

  • Who are they
  • Where can you find them 
  • Why are they important 
  • What do they do for earth
  • Why would I be bad to lose them 
  • Any other facts 

Then we composed. 

Students used Adobe Spark. I showed them how to use some of the new features (we use adobe frequently and let them play around with it). Below are some of my students’ compositions. Some students also chose to turn their poem into a video narrating over it as well. 

It was a great mentor and I hope it can give your students great moments of a’ha and multimodal composition.

See student examples below

Please reach out with questions, reflections, and connections in the comments below or on Twitter @Mrsablund. Check out my other articles writing out of the ELA classroom.

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3 Comments

  1. This is incredible!!!! My Critique Group is having a writing retreat and this would be the perfect writing activity! Thank you so much for sharing!

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