How to Use Mentor Text
As teachers, we are always looking for a one-stop resource to teach multiple concepts. I’ve found that using a mentor text provides this opportunity in a fun and purposeful way!
Why is a mentor text so useful? It allows students to notice, practice, or apply a certain skill or strategy while using a book. Most of the time it’s a picture book, but not necessarily.
When using a mentor text, it’s important to decide what skill(s) you want students to focus on. I wouldn’t necessarily teach multiple skills in one lesson, but instead use the same text throughout a week or two while teaching whatever concepts I wanted to teach. For example, your focus skill in a nonfiction text could be main idea.
I usually follow the same process regardless of whether the text is narrative or expository, but here’s some special tips for using mentor texts with an informational focus! The gradual release model is a great way to ensure kids get the support and the practice they need!
- Read the text without interruption. Informational texts can be lengthy, so you may need to read it in sections, or only use one part. During the first read, don’t analyze or dissect the text. Allow students to read it for enjoyment. There is much to learn from nonfiction texts, after all.
- Next, explain or describe the skill you are wanting students to notice. Reread the section you want to use as your focus. Model the strategy of finding the main idea. Let them hear your thinking out loud.
- Then I’d have students work in partners or groups, while finding the main idea of another section. Always monitor and provide guidance as necessary. Listen to their thinking and clear up any misconceptions.
- I’d finally have students work on finding main idea independently using a different text. Provide feedback and continue to help students that are struggling.
If you’d like to see another example of how to use a mentor text in your classroom, you can read more on this blog post.
Needing a little more support with nonfiction texts? This blog post has some great information as well as some FREE documents for you to use in your classroom.