Monday, September 5, 2016

Mentor texts for each grade level* Freebie!

What's the most important teaching tool we have? Aside from your brains, it's books! We can do without handouts, copy machines, scented markers (although who would want to?) and even - gasp - post-its. But books are a necessity for authentic instruction. We learn from the greats. One of the first questions we ask when planning every reading & writing lesson should be "Which books show this in action? Which books can we use to engage students in observing this skill or strategy?"

One of the biggest undertakings my school has ventured into is aligning our use of mentor texts for reading and writing experiences. To support teachers and grade levels as a whole in doing this, and to help our collaborative planning, I decided to put together a collection of books for each grade level.

I was so excited to embark on this idea! I searched high and low for mentor text lists, lists of authors with titles under their belt, and recommendations from other teacher-authors, bloggers, and colleagues. I scoured the internet, high and low.

Why was this so difficult? Because my district, and therefore my school, is dual language. We believe in supporting the child's home language (in our area this is primarily Spanish) by following a specific model of language acquisition. This means the majority of literacy instruction in K-2 is in Spanish in our bilingual rooms, and then we increase English language arts in third, until in fourth and fifth we are teaching in English all day (except for Social Studies).
In order to make sure all of our kids had equal opportunity, and our teachers had equal support, I had to find authors and titles that were available in English and Spanish, or with equitable substitutes. This is tough. The trend is currently to move back into 100% English instruction, so Spanish titles are often off-the-market. We had to buy many of them from Amazon because Barnes & Noble (and other booksellers) no longer carries them.
But I finally figured out the authors and titles to use for each grade. The books were delivered a little at a time from different vendors over the summer. When I arrived, I had a pile of boxes in my room. I sorted them into grade levels and added a sticker on the front of each book noting the genre and grade level. Then I put a sticker on the inside cover of each book to give teachers a place to make notes about reading and writing lessons.

I set up the bins in the library and sorted all of the books - one set for each teacher and a master set to keep in my planning room so we'd have one to use during PLC.

During inservice, I provided a little training to teachers about using mentor texts and then I had my Oprah moment! Each teacher received his/her basket, labeled and tidy, to take back with them.
During PLC, we pull out the mentor text basket for their grade level as we plan for reading lessons and writing lessons! 

In case you're undertaking a similar initiative, I pulled together everything that I used for our mentor text project. The stickers, basket labels, and all the titles & authors that I used are there! Grab it from Google Drive!

Happy Teaching!


  1. Thanks for the amazing list of books and authors. This is great!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


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