22 Mar Slice of Life: The Magic is in the Organization #SOL18
She just grabbed that book, opened it up and found exactly what she wanted to model.
I overhear the comment (or piece together enough to think that is what she said to her colleague). I decide to let the students turn and talk for another minute, so I can let the teachers in on my secret.
Oh no! There is no magic in this. This is planning. This is my book – which is the mentor text that comes with your unit of study. This is the post-it note on the page with the craft example. This is the student mentor text of the same craft, which I file in the book. This is a mentor text of my writing using the same craft, also filed in the book. I store the text, with the writing samples, in the unit of study book. That way I always have it at my fingertips when I need it.
That is the truth. There is no magic wand for me to wave when it comes to mentor texts. I spend most of my planning time finding the right book or student sample to model and study with kids. The power of my lessons is always in the books I use to model. I am meticulous about how I organize and store my mentor texts. I always keep the texts I use to model with the materials for that unit of study. If the book is not mine or if I would like to have it in more than one unit, I photocopy the cover and the pages I use to store with a lesson. I even typically put a key word on the page indicating how I used it.
Throughout the unit (and the years), I collect student samples that show a variety of ways to use this craft and store them with the books. It helps to show students how other kids tried the craft in their writing. For some reason, seeing the craft in a peer’s writing makes it feel so accessible. I use my own writing as a mentor as well, but I typically use my writing to customize the use of the craft to scaffold what I see the students need as a next step. My sample provides the opportunity for me to think aloud and share the process of why I chose to use the craft, how I decided to use it and the process of revision. Even though I typically customize my writing samples and write “live” in front of the children, I save prior examples to remind myself of different things I have tried in the past.
We continually remind our students to “show not tell” and I think we need to do the same for them in our teaching. Taking the time to organize my mentor texts – professional, student, and teacher – makes it seem effortless! But we all know, any teaching that seems effortless is carefully orchestrated. That is the magic of teaching! (I am lucky I only have to plan for reading and writing!)
Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year.