Mentor Monday 3/17/2014-Using Mentor Texts for Writing Ideas

It is Monday!  That means it is time for Mentor Monday again!  I am linking up with Emily from The Reading Tutor/OG.  This week’s topic is Writing Prompts, which is very appropriate as many of us are preparing for the dreaded state tests coming soon.  Pairing a mentor text to go along with a writing prompt not only helps to make it a little more exciting, but it also serves as a model for a well written story.  

My choice for mentor text this week is Thunder Cake.  In case you didn’t already know, I absolutely LOVE Patricia Polacco and all of her books!  They are so easy to relate to and teach many different lessons.  This well known story can be used for so many different strategies, but I liked it for the writing prompt because I have seen prompts for state tests that go something like this:  
Tell about a time you have been scared or afraid of something.  How did you feel?  Did you get over your fear or are you still afraid of it?  

I want to start by saying I do NOT think it is a great prompt for a state test as sometimes students do not want to talk about their fears or don’t want to admit they have any.  But, I do like it as a prompt to work on in class with you there to support the kids.  If a kid doesn’t want to talk about a certain fear, you can assure them that they can choose a different one if the first choice is too hard.  You can also show them that sometimes, coming from a vulnerable place can lead to the best writing you have ever done!  
But, back to the prompt…
So, I would start by reading Thunder Cake to the class and focusing on the little girl’s fear of thunder storms.  I would also talk to the kids about what the grandma is doing to help her through her fears.  The grandma not only tries to get her focused on something else (getting the supplies for baking a cake), but also assures her that she is braver than she thought she was.  Afterwards, I would start a chart with things that people can be afraid of so students don’t have to feel like they are the only ones afraid of things.  Have the kids help you list common fears (whether they are their own fears or not doesn’t really matter yet).  After the list was finished, you could talk about things you could do to help somebody through a fear that was on your list.

When they are ready to write on their own, they now have enough background to get a good start.  And, for those who don’t want to admit to a fear, you have a list of common fears and solutions they could “pretend” they have (another good test taking strategy–if you can’t think of something for the prompt, you can make it up, but it has to sound believable!).

You can click  HERE to grab this entire pack, including a completed graphic organizer I made for the book Thunder Cake.  I am including a blank copy as well so you can use it for any book.  Enjoy!

Until next time,

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