I’ve been doing this for years, but it’s because I bought a unit from Teachers Pay Teachers from Ideas by Jivey (freakin’ fantastic unit, I want to add) and not because I’ve actually invested time in developing the concept. So, what do I, as a nerdy teacher do? I find books and go to trainings when I should be packing up my room for the summer.
So, before I go too crazy, let me credit the guru’s that I love in this area:
Seriously, these people are amazing and I want to be like them, someday when I decide to grow up. Yeah, that’s still up in the air.
So, what is a mentor sentence, Mrs. Franklin?
I’m so glad you asked!
A Mentor sentence is a sentence you take from a book and dissect like a frog in Science. The purpose here is to identify the choices the author made and figure out why they did it in this particular sentence. We’re trying to get students to read with the intent of digesting the craft of writing and making it their own. They rewrite that sentence, they make their own sentence using the same decisions as the author and they practice using those concepts in their own writing.
But, wait… isn’t that stealing?
<quote>“Nobody is born with a style or voice. We don’t come out of the womb knowing who we are. In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes. We learn by copying. We’re talking about practice here, not plagiarism — plagiarism is trying to pass someone else’s work off as your own. Copying is about reverse-engineering. It’s like a mechanic taking apart a car to see how it works.” ~ Austin Kleon</quote>
The name of that book was “Steal like an Artist” by the way. Just putting that out there, do with it what you will.
OK, so, how does this work?
Wow, you’re a great student, asking all the right questions! I’m so proud!
So, step 1- pick a book (or use a book you’re already reading), then pick a sentence that illustrates the thing you want to work on in Grammar/Writing.
Step 2- Follow the daily setup ON THE SAME SENTENCE!
The Daily Plan:
Day 1- Invitation to Notice- jot notes about WHATEVER they notice in that sentence (“I see a period!” “That letter is capitalized!”) Seriously, ANYTHING they notice is worth writing down.
Day 2- Invitation to Identify- Identify the mechanics in the sentence (parts of speech, grammar, etc).
Day 3- Invitation to Revise- You guessed it, students revise this sentence using the same content, but changing words.
Day 4- Invitation to Imitate- Students write their own sentence using the same mechanics that exist in the sentence, but they write a completely different sentence!
Day 5- (OPTIONAL) Quiz on weekly skill.
So, why am I giving up my English book?
1- Because we don’t remember those stupid grammar rules the teacher taught us in third grade, not all of them. Sure, you remember some of them, but not all of them. Why are we teaching them using the textbook when it didn’t work for us? It doesn’t work any better now, if you’re being honest with yourself. The kids’ writing still suffer, they don’t use these conventions, you’re still banging your head on the wall. STOP IT!
2- Because, with this, you can teach grammar, writing, and reading comprehension… all using the same book! You’re already reading to them, folks. Take what you’re reading and, instead of trying to cram both grammar and writing in as separate pieces, embed them all in the same reading passages! Instead of planning three things, PLAN ONE and cover all three! Time is a fleeting thing in a classroom, with things stealing instructional time left and right all day long. This past year, I had all of my students in my room in their chairs for me to teach for a whopping 2.5 hours out of an 8 hour day. That’s it, less than 3 hours a day! I didn’t have time to teach Reading AND Writing AND Grammar! The answer? MENTOR SENTENCES from the book I was reading to my class, anyway!
What do I do now? You’ve got me intrigued!
Go use your Google Fu, or the links above. Buy books, search Pinterest! Get more information and take classes, watch videos, get it in your life ASAP! Your kids will thank you. Your administrators will thank you. Your parents will thank you. Your test scores will rise. Your stress level will crash.
And come back and tell me how you’re doing and how I can help!
Until next time!
PS- I have a Pinterest board just for Mentor Sentences here.
Find J Anderson online here: writeguy.com
Find J.Ivey on youtube here walking you through the process