The Teacher Tip

Use Students’ Writing as Mentor Texts

October 5, 2017

Adapted from Learning from Classmates: Using Students’ Writing as Mentor Texts by Lisa Eickholdt

Mentor texts are wonderful, but children’s literature is the polished work of adult authors. Try working students’ writing into your mentor-text mix, and your students will identify themselves as writers, take more risks with their writing, and help other students. But how do you work them in?

  1. Immersion. Immerse students in an upcoming genre by reading lots of great writing to them. Choose writing that is filled with the qualities of writing you value so that you may return to this writing again and again throughout the unit.
  2. Assessment. Assess students’ writing throughout a unit of study, looking for common needs. Set writing goals and target these concepts in upcoming lessons.
  3. Conferences. As you confer with individual students during the unit, keep in mind the writing goals you have set. Search for student writing to use as mentor texts in upcoming lessons.
  4. Lessons. Use student writing as mentor texts to help you teach key writing strategies and techniques in your lessons.

To learn more about Learning from Classmates: Using Students’ Writing as Mentor Texts and to download a sample chapter, visit

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