Success For All Writers with Mentor Texts2012 PSU York Summer InstituteLYNNE R. DORFMAN AND ROSE CAPPELLI
from Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature Mentor texts become our coaches and our partners as we bring the joy of writing to our students. They help students envision the kind of writer they can become; they help teachers move the whole writer, rather than each individual piece of writing, forward. Writers can imitate the mentor text and continue to find new ways to grow.
Authority ListsLynne’s List: Rose’s List: Horses Playing the violin Dogs Golf Humpback Whales Motherhood Poetry Gardening Care of house plants Birds Letter writing Teaching children how to read
Redefining a list for specificity: Horses Grooming a horse Caring for the equipment Dressage moves Jumps for a hunter course Divisions of a horse show Open jumping Olympic competitions English vs. Western Judging a horse show Thoroughbred racing
How Do Authors Reveal Their Characters? Physical description The character’s actions What the character says What other characters say about him/her How they change
Gestures to Enhance Memoir, Realistic Fiction, Personal Narratives, and VignettesFrom “Mrs. Buell” in Hey World, Here I Am! By Jean Little In winter she wore the same sweater every day, a man’s gray one, too big, with the sleeves pushed up. They kept slipping down and she’d shove them back a million times a day. Yet she never rolled up the cuffs to make them shorter. (p. 44) Her going had left a hole in my life. Because I knew, for the first time, that nothing was safe – not even the everyday, taken-for-granted background of my being. Like Mrs. Buell, pushing up her sweater sleeves and giving me my change. (p. 46)
From The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul CurtisMe and Joey cracked up. Byron kind of chuckled and Momma put herhand over her mouth. She did this whenever she was going to give asmile because she had a great big gap between her front teeth. IfMomma thought something was funny, first you’d see her trying to hidethe gap, then, if the smile got to be too strong, you’d see the gap for ahot second before momma’s hand would come up to cover it, then she’dcrack up, too. (p. 4)“And Mrs. Watson,” said Dad, “you can’t possibly deny that this is yourchild. You can tell this boy has got a ton of Sands blood in him, look atthose ears!”Poor Byron. If he’d have known how far his ears stuck out to the side Ibet he never would have gotten that butter!Momma put her hand over her mouth and said, “Lord, don’t blame thaton my side of the family, someone switched this child at the hospital!”(p. 98)
Notebook Entries: Gesture UseHe touched his chin as thinking.Little Johnny threw his hands in the air. “Daddy.”He pressed his hair back with both hands. “My dad is going to kill me.”She shoved her hands deep into her pockets and slouched, as if trying to hide.She held her palm out to him. “Whatever.”She stared at her feet. As if her fingers had a mind of their own, they played with her coat zipper.
In “The Irishman” by L. Dorfman “What’s a tea cozy?” I whispered to April. I stolea quick glance. She was leaning slightly forward, herthin hair - the color of winter wheat - hanging limpand damp around her shoulders. She shrugged hershoulders – one small movement – and continued tosit still and silent on the crooked wooden chair.Perhaps she didn’t want to shift her weight on afragile chair that was destined to be broken anddiscarded. But everything about April wasunderstated. She was definitely my polar opposite,and I loved hanging out with her.
Reflection QuestionsHow did the description of character help your readers (peer response group/teacher) to visualize him or her?How did your snapshot of the character help create a certain mood for the story or essay?What strategies did you use to create a strong, clear description of the character?How can you use “show, not tell” strategy here?Where would you use this strategy again?
The Importance of IntroductionsWhen I introduce leads to young writers, I ask them tothink about fishing, to imagine the writer as an anglerand the reader as a fish. Writers cast out their first lineof words in hopes of hooking the reader and reelinghim into the text. Stephanie Harvey, Nonfiction Matters: Reading, Writing, and Research in Grades 3-8It’s important that they [students] get a sense of therange of options available for writing an introduction. Portalupi and Fletcher, Nonfiction Craft Lessons
The Importance of Endings…the ending is as important as the beginning.The ending is the part that will echo in the ear ofthe reader when he or she is finished. Portalupi and Fletcher, Nonfiction Craft LessonsYour ending should be made to stick! Etched intheir minds and hearts. Unforgettable. Frank Murphy, children’s author
An anecdote from Rose’s Notebook… It was a hot summer afternoon that wasperfect for relaxing in the sun. So I spread out ablanket in my backyard and lay down to catchsome rays. I removed my shiny silver watch butcarefully placed it on the blanket next to my head(I wanted to be sure not to stay out in the sun toolong). Suddenly, I felt something dive-bomb myhead while a flurry of feathers brushed my face.It was gone in a second, but so was my watch.What would a bird want with a watch, Iwondered?
Possible nonfiction topics: How Birds Build Nests How to Attract Birds Nesting Materials
Once I went to my uncle’s house. All mycousins were there. They were lifting a canoeand there was a snake. It was black and had ayellow stripe down its back. Charlie got bit. Wehad fun except for Charlie. Andrew, Grade 2Possible topics: Snakes First aid for snake bites
Leads: A Great, First Sentence Some Additional ExamplesForeshadowing:If only Billy had known that he was tall enough to ride the “Rolling Thunder.” Why did he always talk before he thought things out?Short, Choppy Statement:No. No. I’ll never do that again!Name Statement:I, Lyddie Jones, will never, ever take my younger brother to an amusement park with mybest friends.Thoughtshot:“Why am I afraid to tell my sister how I feel?” Billy thought to himself.Personification:The old cars moaned and groaned as they were pulled up the wooden track by invisiblehands.
Creepy Statement:The track rose up like a dark spirit across the blue sky, turning my insides to mush.Weather:A soft rain spattered against the car windows as we drove down the New Jersey Turnpike.But there was a ray of hope – poking between dark clouds with golden spokes.Quote (what people say):My mother always said that Lyddie should have been born the boy. Lyddie, who was alwaysdaring, courageous, and full of life.Controversial Statement:Amusement parks! They should really be called torture chambers!
a circus on a rocket ship to Marscamping near a river climbing a mountaina ski vacation in Colorado arriving at Ellis Islandat the seashore sailing on the Titanica deserted island an apartment in Seattlescuba diving near a coral reef at a holiday party
From Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin HenkesLilly ran and skipped and hopped all the way home,she was so happy. And she really did want to be ateacher when she grew up…
From Shortcut by Donald CrewsWe walked home without a word. We didn’t tellBigmama. We didn’t tell Mama. We didn’t tellanyone. We didn’t talk about what had happened fora very long time. And we didn’t take the shortcutagain.
From Crab Moon by Ruth HorowitzSlowly and grandly the crab pulled herself forward.Stepping and pausing, Daniel’s feet felt their wayinto the bay. He followed until she disappeared.Then he gave the water one last, long look andwhispered to the horseshoe crab, “See you nextsummer.”
Similes from Owl Moon by Jane Yolen The trees stood still as giant statues. Somewhere behind us a train whistle blew, long and low, like a sad, sad song. And when their voices faded away it was as quiet as a dream. …and the snow below it was whiter than the milk in a cereal bowl. Then the owl pumped his great wings and lifted off the branch like a shadow without sound.
Blank, Blank, Blanking Craft1. Invite writers to search their stories for sentences that have a verb in it.2. Brainstorm a list such as run, write, love, sneeze, read, dance, swim, dream, ski, trudge3. Ask students to rewrite the sentence using _____, _____, ____ing.*Sometimes, your writers will choose to replace their verb for a stronger one first.
Verbs that have more than one syllable can be altered to make it sound more fun and more rhythmic.For example the word “tackle” could be reconstructed to read: “I was tack, tack, tackling the running back all day long!”
Rationale for Use It adds song and poetry to any piece. It also adds emphasis. Think about a sentence that reads: “I was missing my mom while at camp.” Revise to read: “I was miss, miss, missing my mom while at camp.”
From Love That Dog by Sharon CreechSome of the tiger sounds are still in my earslike drums beat-beat-beating. p.9My brain was pop-pop-poppingwhen I was looking at those poems. p. 35We think maybe you did because you weresmile-smile-smiling all over the place. p. 82
Examples from NotebooksI opened the huge box, and a yellow lab jumped out. AllChristmas day I was love, love, loving my new puppy.We dash, dash, dashed across the yard on our new bikes.I laugh, laugh, laughed until my face was wet with tears.Mr. Smith was teach, teach, teaching us about subtractionall week!
Grandfather by Lynne DorfmanMy grandfather remembers long agoThe coal mining town of Freeland, Pennsylvania.He remembers the blackness of his father’s hands and face.He remembers his mother waiting, waitingfor the husband who never returned,buried with a dozen other miners…trapped.He remembers waiting for the news.No one would be coming home today, or the next day,or the day after that – not ever.He remembers his mothers sobs and thenit was finished.He remembers selling supplies to minerson Saturdays and even Sundays.There would be food on the tableover prayer.
The Coat by Rose Cappelli“Easter in March –It will be cold!”I think to myselfas I envision Annie’s Easter outfitin my head.A coat will be just right.I find the perfect fabric –a twill of royal bluewith a soft silk blend for the lining.Slowly, the coat takes shapeas the fabric glides effortlesslythrough my sewing machine.The finished product fits her perfectly!
Easter morning dawnssunny, clear –and hot!A sultry eighty-five degrees!Much too hot for a three-year-old in a coat.As I approach she gives me ayou’ve-got-to-be-kidding look.But before she can protest,we line up to take a picture.Click! The coat will live on.
Why Poetry? A poem engages the reader in a whirlwind of sounds, emotions, and wonderings. Poetry blends emotions with appeal to the senses and an acquired wisdom about the world and how things work. Reading poems aloud helps students make reading/writing connections. Poetry improves vocabulary and fluency, deepens comprehension, and enhances thinking skills.
Poetry helps students make personal connections to their lives. Poetry can be used effectively for both small and whole group instruction. Poetry can be used at any time of the day and across the curriculum.
From Don Murray…When we write, we becomevisible, we are players in thegame of life.
Some Ideas for List Poems things I don’t know things I don’t do noisy things quiet things scary things things that drive me crazy
things I can’t understand spring things things that melt my heart things that are happening in the world at this very minute childhood games and/or toys things I like to eat things I don’t like to eat
Signs Possibilities for Reading Connections Fluency – phrasing Sight vocabulary development Phonemic awareness Decoding strategies – word families Vocabulary development Visualization and inferences Synthesis of ideas – drawing conclusions
Signs Possibilities for Writing Connections Scaffold (Noun-Verb, Main Idea) Conventions Word choice Alliteration
From Snowsong Whistling by Karen E. LotzRed squirrels packingHound dog trackingLeaf fires cracklingFarmers stackingChill wind teasingKitten half-sneezingRadiator wheezingPond water freezing
From Pumpkin Eye by Denise FlemingSwooping bats,hissing cats…Trick or treat –Pounding feetClacking bones,muffled moans…
Some samples from Rose’s Notebook… Spring My Busy GardenTulips blooming, Nesting bluebirds,Dogwoods budding, Chirping chickadees,Daffodils glowing - HoveringSpring is beautiful! hummingbirds- My busy garden!
Ice Skates by Mickeelah P., Grade 5 Ice skates Sharp, sturdy, fleece-lined Relative of rollerblades and ballet slippers Who love children, leaps and twirls, and figure eights Who fear falling, getting dull, and growing too small Who need to be laced up tight, sharpened, and polished Who give fun on ice to both young and oldWho like to see children passing pucks, dancing, and racing Resident of snowy lands everywhere Metal artist
Poetry will breathe life into all writing ifwe honor it with our voices and time. -Lester Laminack
from Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s LiteratureMentor texts serve to show, not just tell,students how to write well. They, along withthe teacher, provide wonderful examplesthat help students grow into successfulwriters through supportive partnerships.