How many of your students enjoy paragraph writing? Odds are, many of them don’t choose writing as their favorite subject when asked. Writing is a difficult subject to teach because students have varying writing styles and skillsets. Through my years of teaching, I have found that providing students with a fun topic or mentor text, gives them a guide to get the wheels in their brain turning. Keep reading to see how to use mentor texts to encourage paragraph writing in the classroom.
What are Mentor Texts?
Mentor texts are pieces of writing that are meant to be used as an example for student writers. The students can study the “craft” of the writing piece to begin forming their own paragraphs or sentences. The idea is that through continuous exposure to mentor texts and examples, students can recreate the writing they see in their own pieces. Essays, paragraphs, poems, chapter books, short stories, articles, and even letters or comic strips can serve as valuable mentor texts.
One of the most common types of mentor texts used in the classroom are short passages. These are easy to read and students can absorb the information and the writing style without too much thought. Students read the short passages and then answer questions to begin mapping out their paragraph writing.
Paragraph Writing & Mentor Texts During Small Groups
Mentor texts and paragraph writing are great tools to implement during small group work times. Since students are typically on different levels with their reading and writing, using these tools at a time when you can differentiate the material is very helpful.
Choose mentor texts based on student interests or provide weekly texts that students can study over a period of time. It’s a good idea to read a related text such as a book and then do one step of the paragraph writing each day to ease into the task.
Use these Informative Paragraph Writing Prompts as weekly tools to help your students. There are 10 prompts to choose from. I use one mentor text a week with my small groups. We read a story relevant to the topic the first day and review what we will be writing about the next day. This allows students time to think about their topic and what they might like to write.
When they come back to the table the next day, they’ve had plenty of time to think. We do one section of the paragraph writing each day and finish it up at the end of the week. Breaking it up into smaller chunks helps students stay focused and gives them time to think and edit the next day as needed.
Using Paragraph Writing as a Writing Center
Some students are developed enough in their paragraph writing to begin a writing task on their own. This is a great time to put mentor texts and writing tasks into writing centers or assign them as writing homework. Students can complete them over the course of the week. Check-in on them each day to make sure they are on the right track, but it’s a nice way to offer them some independence.
Offer the weekly writing centers in the form of these Digital Weekly Informative Paragraph Writing Prompts. Students are able to access the prompts from a classroom computer or at home. Everything is planned for you, all you have to do is assign the weekly writing ideas! There are 10 paragraph writing prompts to choose from.
Use this Paragraph Writing Bundle to provide students with a true paragraph of the week Monday through Friday or a flexible schedule with numbered tasks. This format is perfect if you have a lot of short weeks or aren’t able to devote time to paragraph writing every day. You can also use the flexible version and complete a prompt about every week and a half. The kids love the consistency of the tasks and always know exactly what to do!