The Reading-Writing Connection
We all know that reading and writing go hand in hand. Strong readers are typically strong writers. Why do you think that is? Well, I believe it’s because avid readers see how professional authors use language to create images, capture attention, organize the text, add details to keep attention, carry out a meaningful plot, and so many other writing tasks. Pause for a moment and reflect upon your all time favorite books. What titles do you love most? What was it about the titles you thought of that stuck with you? Could you pull these qualities out and use them to model specific writing and/or reading skills? I bet the answer was “Yes!”
With my choice for this lesson, I Wanna Iguana, I suggest analyzing it as a reader first. Lester Laminack’s book, Writers Are Readers is a great source for making that connection, and as you work through certain comprehension skills, you’ll see that the process helps your students pull out the best examples of the author’s craft as exemplars when they write their own paired assignment.
With this book, I created before-during-after activities to go with the book aimed at the second to third grade. I recommend using it initially for reading so that you can analyze the author’s craft, and with the full bundle, you’ll have all of these options.
Not all Books Make Great Mentor Texts
Choosing just the right book takes practice. If you’re teaching a specific skill, you must look for a book that has enough examples of the chosen skill that you can use it for modeling. You have to carefully select the title that best matches the specific objective you are working on. I would suggest keeping a spreadsheet of skills, book titles you can use, and even links to your resources if you store them in your Google drive or Dropbox. This could make planning your mentor text lessons so much easier.
To help you get started with titles, be sure to check out the Pinterest Board our group created that is dedicated to mentor text lessons. Many of the lessons shared there are free and accompany blog posts explaining the lesson from past mentor text link ups.
Switching from Reading to Writing
Once you’ve worked with the text, it’s time to move on to writing. With this book, the persuasive writing prompt is, “What Pet Should I Get?” I recommend pulling from the text the phrases that Alex uses to persuade his mom. I listed them in the anchor chart to the right. You may need to enlarge the image to read them all, or go through the book and jot them down, You can then read through the persuasive vocabulary list I shared in my resource to talk about other words and phrases students can use in their own pieces.
Another important feature of this book is how the author presented the arguments. Alex and his mom write letters back and forth to each other, and with this prompt, your students will too. You ‘ll review Alex’s arguments for the iguana and use the organizer provided to brainstorm the pros and cons for three different animal options the students choose from for the pet they’d like. You might pair your students for discussion as they complete this part. I think it’s important to emphasize this point with your students:
Quality Writing Starts with Quality Planning
Organizing Your Thoughts
Persuasive writing has a set framework. It includes stating your opinion or desire, sharing three or more reasons with supporting evidence, and your call to action. Within this file, you have two organizer options for the assignment. I made one organizer with a larger space for writing for grades 2-3, and one with a smaller space for older students. Even though this book is geared more for primary readers, I think it could stretch to upper elementary too especially with the vocabulary word banks provided.
Composing, Revising, and Publishing
Once your kids have completed their plan, it’s time to compose their drafts. If your students have planned well, this part goes quickly. I would suggest giving your students two things: the OREO anchor chart and the persuasive writing checklist to help them ensure they keep the persuasive writing requirements in mind as they writing. You can use the pages to the left for any persuasive letters your students write in the future. As we know, they will need multiple tries to master this. If you want to use letter writing, a great follow up book you might use is Dear Mrs. LaRue. With that book, you can also work on point of view. 😊
The last step in this lesson is to have your kids publish their work. You can bind the letters into a class book using the cover provided and place the book in your classroom library. Class books provide a great way to celebrate your students’ work and emphasize the need for quality.
As you can see, your students will write the letter and add an illustration of the pet they’d like to get.
I hope you enjoy using this lesson with your students, and for other great mentor text lessons, check out the links below. I hope you’ll enjoy future communications to hear what’s new and to catch my latest post. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask.