The Northern Nevada Writing Project’s Writing Fix site contains a terrific section of lesson plans on Using Chapter Book Excerpts as Mentor Texts. What does that mean? It means the terrific writing we admire in our favorite novels can be used to guide our own young writers. The format, however, also means that your students don’t need to have read the entire novel being referenced; each lesson provides teachers with the specific chapters, which can be read independently by students or as a read-aloud by the teacher. If any of the twenty some books featured are the same novel you’re studying in class, added bonus!
So what you’ll find here is a fabulous collection of middle school and YA novels (you’ll recognize all the titles) categorized by the six traits: Idea Development, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, and Conventions. Each lesson plan is preceded by a Three Sentence Overview (boom! there’s your lesson objective).
For example, Maniac Magee is used as a mentor text focusing on voice (with a supporting focus on word choice). The Three Sentence Overview reads:
The writer will analyze and discuss the tall tale format after reading Jerry Spinelli’s tale of Cobble’s Knot, told in Chapter 20 of Maniac Magee. Then writers will need to create an interesting character in a special situation which would allow them to stretch the truth in an imaginative tale. The interactive button game will provide writers with possible options from which to create their “whoppers.”
The lesson plan contains a step-by-step approach, and all needed hand-outs, and additional optional site links (if required). Many lessons also contain samples of student writing submitted by teachers who have used that lesson plan in their classrooms.
While at Writing Fix, also be sure to check out the ipod Lessons which use lyrics to popular songs as mentor texts. Great way to connect with the young folk!