A Teacher’s Guide to Mentor Texts, 6-12 (2021)

Using mentor texts from a range of high-interest sources and diverse authors can be a real game changer in secondary writing classrooms.  Students learn to read like writers, deepening their understanding of quality writing and inspiring them in their own drafting and revision. In this foundational guide, you’ll learn the what, why, and how of teaching with mentor texts in small ways as well as large—and discover the power of mentor texts to serve as “writing teachers” alongside you. Allison and Rebekah provide a multitude of annotated examples from professional writers, alongside student samples, to illustrate how mentor texts can teach specific writing skills. Online resources, planning tools, and videos for both teachers and students make A Teacher’s Guide to Mentor Texts an instant companion to your lesson plan book.

Download a sample or purchase here.

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Beyond Literary Analysis (2018)

Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell invite you to join them on a transformational journey.  Out of the dark tunnel of boring literary analysis assignments, they lead you into a world where students learn to write fresh, compelling, authentic arguments based on their own unique interests.  “There is a place for analysis of literature in our classrooms,” they write.  “But we think there is more.  In this book, we invite you to explore your teaching of analytical writing from a new perspective. To open your mind to the real world of analytical writing, and challenge traditional notions about what students should be analyzing and how they should write it.”

Allison and Rebekah offer a broadened definition of analysis for the 21st century classroom.  “Analysis is everywhere,” they argue. “It’s about video games and athletes’ seasons, and the latest album, or the new Netflix series.”  This new definition of “text” allows students to tap into their passions—and learn to write with expertise on topics that matter to them.  “No matter where your students begin as writers—full of confidence or full of avoidance—unleashing them to explore the topics and texts they are passionate about can transform your classroom and transform their writing.”

With samples throughout the book, you’ll see what students of all levels and experiences can do when they’re supported with mentor texts, targeted writing instruction, and the opportunity to write beyond literary analysis.

Some Reviews:

“English teachers have been waiting for this book since…well…forever. Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell breathe new life into that semi-comatose assignment—the analytic essay. They ask us to totally reimagine it, to examine how analysis works “in the wild” —on blogs, web sites, Internet reviews, and to expand the range of “texts” students can analyze (music, video games, sports teams, movies). Then drawing on their own classroom work, they show how students can use the lessons from mentor texts in their own writing. A groundbreaking and absolutely essential book.”  —Thomas Newkirk, author of Embarrassment and Minds Made for Stories

“Are you ready for a mind-bending journey into analytical writing? This book holds a new vision for student engagement grounded in current, authentic, and relevant texts. I guarantee it will upend your understanding of analysis. Full of sentence and passage studies that ignite student voice, mini-lessons that clarify the intent of organizational structures, and a deep understanding of how best to learn from a mentor text, this book will make you a better writing teacher. It’s simply brilliant.”—Penny Kittle, author of Book Love and coauthor of 180 Days

“Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell take the dusty skeleton of literary analysis and transform it into a responsive, sophisticated, magical genre of writing that we can teach our students to develop and to adore. Using this book will produce the writing that you and your students will cherish most – these are the pieces they will keep, the ones they will publish. Marchetti and O’Dell’s work brings relevance, voice, and life to a form that feels crusty and brittle with directions, templates and redundancy. This book will make your students better writers – but it will also help them to enter into the world they encounter with greater passion and insight than ever before.”—Kate Roberts, author of A Novel Approach and coauthor of Falling in Love With Close Reading

“As tour guides to a brave new world, Rebekah O’Dell and Allison Marchetti reject the well-worn path of literary analysis and guide teachers to a vibrant new analytical landscape. By reframing the idea of text as anything that has a beginning, middle, and end, O’Dell and Marchetti entertain a “bigger vision for analysis,” that helps students find their passion, explore their ideas, assert authority, and build solid structures for writing.  Divided into three sections, the book offers an inquiry into traditional analysis, a compendium of practical lessons, and an exploration of sub-genres, such as writing about movies, music, sports, and video games. In addition, this book is chock full of dynamic mentor texts and classroom-ready techniques that will free your students to explore the vistas vital to their lives.”—Liz Prather, author of Project-Based Writing

Download a sample chapter, the study guide, or purchase Beyond Literary Analysis here.

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Writing With Mentors (2015)

Writing With Mentors is one of the best books I’ve read on harnessing the power of mentor texts to spur authentic student writing.” –Kelly Gallagher, author of Write Like This

“Writing With Mentors has transformed the way I think about using exemplar pieces.” –Christopher Lehman, coauthor ofFalling in Love with Close Reading

“I am certain Don [Graves] would have celebrated these wise, kind, and fearless advocates for young writers.” –Penny Kittle, author of Write Beside Them

In Writing with Mentors, high school teachers Allison Marchetti and Rebekah  O’Dell prove that the key to cultivating productive, resourceful writers—writers who can see value and purpose for writing beyond school—is using dynamic, hot-off-the-press mentor texts.   In this practical guide, they provide savvy strategies for:

–finding and storing fresh new mentor texts, from trusted traditional sources to the social mediums of the day
–grouping mentor texts in clusters that show a diverse range of topics, styles, and approaches
–teaching with lessons that demonstrate the enormous potential of mentor texts at every stage of the writing process.

In chapters that follow the scaffolded instruction Allison and Rebekah use in their own classrooms, you’ll discover how using mentor texts can unfold across the year, from inspiration and planning to drafting, revising, and “going public” in final publication. Along the way, you’ll find yourself reaching every writer in the room, whatever their needs.   “Our hope in this book,” they write, “is to show you a way mentors can help you teach anything you need or want to teach in writing. A way that is grounded in the work of real writers and the real reading you do every day.  A way that is sustainable and fresh, and will serve your students long after they leave your classroom.” (From

Click here for more information about the book, or download a sample chapter from Heinemann.

You can order the book on Amazon or the Heinemann website.

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