Mentor Sentences & The Classroom
How using mentor sentences can completely change your classroom!
If you are like me and my subject partner you will roll your eyes at the word “grammar”. All teachers really just want to say “ain’t nobody got time for that!” Grammar doesn’t have to be a completely separate entity in your classroom. My co-teacher and I have discovered how to effortlessly weave it in to all aspects of our reading and writing instruction and we are seeing phenomenal growth!
What are “Mentor Sentences”?
I am well aware that there might be some teachers who are still unaware of the term mentor sentence and what it even means. As I introduced it to my students this year I asked the question, “what is a mentor?” My students were all able to tell me – someone you learn from, someone you look up to, someone important. I then tied that back to our new term “mentor sentence”. A mentor sentence is a well-written sentence that models the exact craft and structure we are wanting our students to use in their writing! Students use these sentences to guide their learning throughout the week. Often they are pulled from the mentor text in the reading lessons! (Win-Win if you ask me because that is like a two-for-one special!)
1. Student Engagement
I cannot tell you the amount of times in school that I rolled my eyes at the grammar assignment. It was always something about circling this, underlining that, or a sentence diagram. GONE ARE THOSE DAYS! Students don’t put value in a worksheet. Students hate it, teachers hate it, everyone just hates it!
Mentor sentences add an exciting twist to grammar. No longer is grammar a stand alone lesson. Now it is intertwined in to reading AND writing and the students are immersed in it throughout the whole literacy block! My students come in every day asking about the mentor sentence and making sure we don’t forget! They are eager and encouraged as they work through each days focus. Students crave the interactive part of the lessons and are constantly striving to do better than the week before.
2. Student Success
Not only are students eager and willing to get started eachand every day, they are also working to include the things they are learning in their writing! Each mentor sentence will have a focus – adverbs, adjectives, figurative language. The students then work to focus on that area of their writing to make it better. The investigate how the author has used adjectives in their sentence and try to mimic in their writing. The difference in writing skills from the beginning of the year until now is incredible! Students are writing more descriptive, powerful stories because of the skills they are seeing and imitating in their mentor sentence time.
This is huge for me. As any teacher knows, there is just NO extra time anywhere. Trying to *squeeze* in grammar is sometimes virtually impossible. Mentor sentences change all of that! Our day starts with reading, then mentor sentences (grammar), and we finish with writing. The mentor sentence lessons are virtually 10 minutes and the transition to writing is SEAMLESS because you are challenging them to use the mentor sentence to inspire them. Students also realize that we are editing a published author’s post which means EVERYONE has room to improve somewhere!
Where Do I Start?
My subject partner and I have been using Ideas by Jivey this last year and ABSOLUTELY love it! She has done all of the leg work for you and it is fantastic. As a former teacher, she has been able to really utilize her knowledge of the classroom to tailor her products to teachers and benefiting their classroom instructional time. She has a TPT store that I urge you to check out! All of her lessons are aligned to the AKS & they incorporate reading and writing lesson plans to go along with the sentences.
Each day has it’s own focus —
Monday: Notice. Students talk about what they notice about the sentence that makes it a good mentor sentence.
Tuesday: Label. Students will label the words in the sentence with their parts of speech.
Wednesday: Revise. Students will edit the mentor sentence to make it BETTER & MORE descriptive.
Thursday: Imitate. Students will follow the structure of the sentence (complex, vivid verbs, personificiation) and create their own sentence.
She offers webinars to show you how they work and the best way to implement them in your classroom!
Check her out on Facebook to attend one of her webinars and learn more about her products!