Mentor Text Planning Made Easy

Picking the perfect mentor text can truly turn a good lesson into a great one.  Literature is the heartbeat of the classroom.  Anytime we can use it to help explain, show, model, and teach, we should!  But with so many mentor texts to choose from, how do we know which one is right for our lesson?  Also, when we find the right mentor text, how do we make sure to use it in the best way we can?  Today, let’s chat about using a mentor text planning page to make this process easier!

mentor text planning

Reading aloud to students is one of the most enjoyable experiences teachers can have.  Sharing books, experiences, life skills, and lessons with students are what teachers yearn for.  And doing that through mentor texts makes it even more special and enjoyable  It’s important to remember that there are two types of read-alouds that teachers do in their classrooms.  The first is simply reading aloud for fun.  No purpose other than simply enjoying the book.  To quizzes, questions, or pressure.  Just sit back, listen, and enjoy.

The other type of read-aloud is one that’s planned for instructional purposes.  Teachers use data to identify an area of need, find a mentor text to help, and use it during the lesson.  Knowing the difference between these two types of read-alouds is important for both teachers and their students to understand.

Planning with a Mentor Text

  • Know your objective

Using a mentor text during a lesson means we have a true purpose for reading the book.  It’s not about the book, it’s about the reader.  What do your readers need to practice?  How can this specific mentor text help the readers practice that skill?  Use data to identify ONE reading skill or strategy BEFORE picking out your mentor text.  You want to make sure your mentor text will fit the objective and not the other way around.

  • Read the book completely ahead of time

Jumping into a lesson with a mentor text you haven’t read definitely isn’t smart.  Make sure to read the mentor text ahead of time to ensure that the book will work for the lesson and objective you’ve selected.  While reading, read the book slowly and be aware of your thinking.  Think about your students’ strengths and weaknesses.  How would they tackle different situations in the book?  While reading, find opportunities when your thinking matches the objective.  These will become points in the lesson where either you model the skill/strategy for the students OR stopping points to interact with students about the objective.

  • Alternate stopping points

In your lesson, you want to take the opportunity to model your thinking out loud for students to hear.  You also want to take the opportunity to engage your students and have them interact with the text in regards to the lesson objective.  While you’re reading through the mentor text ahead of time, think about which stopping points will be for you and which will be for the students.

  • Create deep thinking questions

After you’re done reading the text, stop and create at least 3 deep thinking questions about the story.  At least one of them should pertain to the objective.  This will help wrap up the story with your students and allow for more meaningful conversations about the story itself.  You will also want to head back into the story and find 3-4 vocabulary words.  When choosing the words, think about each word’s impact on the overall comprehension of the story.  There will be lots of words the students do not know the meaning of.  However, pick the words that impact the students’ comprehension the most.

There is a lot to think about when using mentor texts to help plan meaningful reading lessons.  Trying to remember everything and keep it all straight can be hard.  Make this process a lot easier by using a mentor text planning page!  They are super simple to use and even better, you can keep them for future years!  Grab your FREE mentor text planning page by entering your email below!

mentor text planning page

Tips to Make It Work

  • To help with time and comprehension, don’t be afraid to reread mentor texts you’ve previously read.  No one says every read-aloud lesson has to include a brand new book.  A strong mentor text can be used to teach many different skills and strategies!  When you find a strong one, use it multiple times to help save time, help lift the comprehension load, and allow students to focus more on the lesson at hand!
  • Some picture books are super long.  You don’t have to read the entire book during your lessons!  Instead, give students a quick intro/outro of information they need to understand the portion of the book you’re about to read.  This helps save time and keeps your objective focused on the portion of the text that you need.
  • Remember to make stopping points for students interactive.  Have them complete body motions, do a turn and talk, or help complete an anchor chart to engage them.
  • Keep everything connected to the objective.  As you can see in my example in the photo above, my overall objective is to have students identify the theme.  But then in my reading strategy boxes, I have written down things like making predictions, character traits, and cause/effect.  Is that really keeping everything to one objective?  Sure is!  My overall objective of the lesson is to identify the theme, but in order to do this, students can use other strategies to get there.  This allows students to see that strategies are not just linear.  But instead, strategies work together to understand each other.  They are connected.  So should you have one overall objective?  Yes!  But don’t be afraid to discuss other strategies if they can help with the overall objective.

I hope you found a helpful tip or two for using mentor texts and planning amazing read-aloud lessons!  I also have a detailed post about planning interactive read-alouds which would be a great follow up to this post!  Make sure to check that out!

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mentor text planning

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I’m a wife, a mommy of 3, blogger, and a full time teacher author and presenter. I love to read, shop, and spend time with my family! My hands are always busy, but my heart is so full!

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