Mentor Text: Knucklehead

Today is one of those days when I’m going through my blog stats…and I actually found a blog post that I started about 3 years ago.  What to do?  Do I throw this one away, or do I resurrect this post and put it out there.

If it was anyone but Jon Scieszka, I might consider tossing it.  But I have a soft spot for an author that makes me laugh so hard that milk comes out of my nose…well…who am I to withhold such a treasure?

Ok folks…if you haven’t yet shared Knucklehead with your upper grade kiddos, then what the heck are you waiting for?

Knucklehead gives the reader the opportunity to see what makes the genius behind The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales tick.  PLUS…it’s an awesome mentor text for student narrative writing!  Seriously.  Awesome.  Scieszka’s “Car Trip” is worth the cost of the book.

Who doesn’t love a station wagon full of 6 boys and a cat, traveling cross-country?

There are so many great books that can serve as mentor texts for writing.  What books are YOU using as writing mentor texts?


Favorite Winter Mentor Text Link Up

Oh…those Collaboration Cuties Amanda and Stacia don’t disappoint, even over the holidays!  They are having a linky partay where everyone shares their favorite “winter book.”

From the onset of my Readers Workshop, I share a book entitled Tracks in the Snow, by Wong Herbert Yee.  While this book isn’t phenomenally engaging for my thirdies, it does serve as the foundation for my students to leave their own “tracks in the snow” while reading.

I teach my students how to question the text, make notes on unfamiliar words, and take general notes using sticky notes and placing these notes inside the text.  These “tracks” allow students to return back to important places in their reading and get the answers they need to make sense of the text.

We also use the “tracks in the snow” strategy with our Anchor Texts.  Each child receives a book that they can mark up by leaving their own tracks directly inside the text.  The “snow” is actually the white spaces on the pages.  We are currently reading Frindle by Andrew Clements and the kids are lovin’ how many tracks they’ve made so far!

Why not check this book out and make your own “tracks?”


Must Read Math Mentor Text Linky Partay!

Oh yeah…I love this linky party.  It usually results in me amblin’ on over to Amazon to get me a book or ten, but…no apologies…I. LOVE. BOOKS.  Period.

Amanda and Stacia over at Collaboration Cuties have been giving us all a great spot to check out new books and I am fresh off of a Lucy Calkins Reading and Writing Project week in NYC, so I am inspired.  On fire even.

The question is…which book do I share out?  There are just so danged many!

After much thought and deliberation, I decided on this beaut:

Being able to truly conceptualize large numbers is very difficult for young learners.  Heck…it’s also pretty tough for much more sophisticated learners!
Andrew Clements (Frindle, The Janitor’s Boy, and many many other fine texts) and Mike Reed team up to create a book that addresses numeracy is such a concrete way.
It’s a long way to a 
million, right?
Of course it is.
But do you really know
what a million looks like?

This book truly shows a million dots with a ton of other really great facts that are provocative enough to get even your most skeptical critics thinking and learning!
One word…MILLION!
Check it out!

Mentor Text: 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore

Writer’s Workshop has taken over my school and my district and I’M LOVIN’ IT!  This soooo fits the way I teach and it is just thrilling to be able to use great mentor texts to model the best in writing.

I’ve decided that I’m going to set the bar high for myself and try to get in ONE BLOG PER WEEK on great mentor texts.  (Ok…that’s a pretty high bar and I’m pretty out-of-shape when it comes to blogging…I’ll admit I’m a slacker!  But I’ll give this a go and see where this goal leads me!)

So…enough pontificating…I’m ready to share!

17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter is one of my all-time favorite books for so many reasons.  What’s not to love about this book?  Great illustrations combined with some great retro mixed-media and an extremely imaginative main character make this book a natural read aloud.  (I know, I know…you aren’t supposed to read a mentor text in its’ entirety during a mini-lesson…but your students will be so intrigued that you’ll need to share the whole darned thing!  Really…it’s that engaging!)
Here are a few ideas I have for using this book for Writer’s Workshop:
  • Idea generating:  Every house and school has rules.  Heck…if I blow up a balloon at home and start batting it around with my son, we have a well-developed list of rules in a matter of seconds! I have my students write a list of things they aren’t allowed to do.  My favorite?  “I’m not allowed to pee on my sister’s toothbrush anymore.”  TMI  🙂
  • Capitalization:  The authors take a little bit of liberty with capitalization.  My kids catch these “errors” quickly and a quick and necessary mini-lesson on mechanics is born!
  • Show, don’t tell:  “I had an idea to give my brother the gift of cauliflower.”  “I’m not allowed to give the gift of cauliflower anymore.”  The pictures in this book are worth a thousand words.  How can we “paint” a picture using words and not drawings or graphics?  
Do you use 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore with your students?  If so, how do you use this book with your students?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Update for April 9, 2013:  I went back to this mentor text and linked it up with the gals over at Collaboration Cuties…check out some other great mentor texts that others have shared!

Make a wonderful week!