This post is fueled by two of my Seven Elements of a Differentiated Writing Lesson:  1) Mentor Texts and 2) Helping Students Discuss Writing at the Ananysis & Evaluation Level
I am on a quest this year!  I want to create a library of amazing mentor texts to use when teaching expository writing.  They're proving hard to find.

A mentor text--as you probably already know--is a published piece of writing whose idea, whose structure, or whose written craft can be analyzed during a lesson to inspire your own students to write.

Narrative and persuasive mentor texts are no problem to find.  Why is it so difficult to find a published piece of expository writing that I can use to inspire my own students' expository assignments?

I've begun my search.  Before Winter Break, I crafted a new demonstration lesson that focused on revision skills for this expository prompt: explain how to play a game to someone who doesn't know how to play it.  I was thrilled to find The Dangerous Book for Boys gathering dust on my bookshelf.  It had voice-y explanations for playing games that ended up working really well when I taught the lesson to eighth graders.

My lesson based on this mentor text has been posted at WritingFix.  Click here to access it. 

One of my lesson's strengths, I believe, is the student discussion tool I created to go with it.  It has student writers analyze the mentor text's voice skills for practice, then analyze the same voice skills in their own rough drafts.

I honestly believe when you have a good mentor text top start with, it's fairly easy to foster a discussion about the writing skills the author has used.  Having students "rank" a mentor text's skills against themselves as a comparative thinking task immediately pushes students to a deeper level of Bloom's taxonomy.  Take a good look at my lesson to see how I have the students "rank" and discuss writing skills as part of the lesson.




  1. Hi Corbett! I agree that using authentic texts as mentor texts is so important in teaching writing. I created my own blog for sharing mentor texts as well! It is if you want to check it out.

    I've seen The Dangerous Book for Boys but I haven't read it, now I'm extra curious! I was just talking to other educators on Twitter about how I seem to read much more fiction than non-fiction and I'm going to try and change that this year. I'm on a hunt for good expository text myself. I find myself noticing how a narrative piece can get students thinking about something expository they can write. They wouldn't necessarily be a model of expository writing, but it would be a way to generate ideas for kids to write about. I'm excited about your blog and to share mentor texts!

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