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We celebrate teachers who have created their own websites about teaching writing:

Always Write
(Grades K-12)

Start to Learn

(Primary Grades)

Making Mathematicians

(Grades K-12)

Learning is Messy

(Grades 4-6)

Write in the Middle

(Grades 6-8)

WritingFix Project: Our Mentor Text of the Year Network
celebrating books by authors about the craft of writing

Occasionally a great classroom mentor text is about a topic we're very fond of here at WritingFix: how to write better. A mentor text on this topic deserves to be brought out again and again (and again) in a school year.

Our Mentor Text of the Year program chooses a different book each year that shares advice on writing from a published writer. Teachers users of WritingFix are invited to purchase the text, incorporate it into a writing lesson, then share how they used the book at our Mentor Text of the Year Network. Our favorite ideas submitted to the network will be published here at WritingFix, and teachers whose ideas are published will be sent a complimentary copy of one of the Northern Nevada Writing Project's Print Publications.

We're asking teachers to post any of the following at the Mentor Text of the Year Network.

  • Activity write-ups inspired by the mentor text of the year;
  • Complete lessons inspired by the mentor text of the year;
  • Handouts inspired by the mentor text of the year;
  • Student writing samples inspired by the mentor text of the year.

For the 2009-2010 school year, we've actually chosen two Mentor Texts of the Year, both by Ralph Fletcher. The first is Ralph's wonderful, student-friendly handbook on memoir and personal narrative writing: How to Write Your Life Story. The second is Ralph's own autobiography, where he skillfully follows his own advice as he pens his life story: Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid. By purchasing either of these text (through Amazon) using the links on this page, a small portion of the sale will be sent to WritingFix to help us continue to post free-to-use resources. Please consider purchasing these two texts by clicking on the pictures at left and at right.

Then, start devising ways to use Fletcher's marvelous advice and his wonderfully crafted passages to show your students how to create great writing about themselves. Throughout the 2009-2010 school year, we will be accepting ideas from teachers at our Mentor Text of the Year Network.

On this page:

Share how you used the Mentor Text of the Year at our on-line Network!

Join our Writing Lesson of the Month Network by clicking here, and start enjoying this free feature.

Already a member? Click here to join in on (or spy on!) the discussions among members!

Looking for books that inspire student writing?

Click here to see our favorite books.

2009-2010's Mentor Texts of the Year:
How to Write Your Life Story & Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid by Ralph Fletcher

A Newly Posted Lesson:
Borrowing Narrative Skills from Mr. Fletcher

Mentor Text: Marshfield Dreams, the First Pen Chapter

Focus Trait: Idea Development

Support Trait: Voice

This lesson was inspired by a suggestion left at our Mentor Text of the Year Network.

Announcing our "Heart Map" Contest for Teachers!

One of Ralph's best ideas in How to Write Your Life Story is to have students create "heart maps" as a pre-writing strategy before they write personal narratives. Be one of the first ten teachers to send us a photograph of the best heart map from one of your students, and we'll send you one of the NNWP's Print Publications.

Post your student's best heart map at the Mentor Text of the Year Network. We'll let you know if you were one of the first ten submissions!


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2008-2009's Mentor Text of the Year:
Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter

A Great Picture Book with Solid Advice for Writers!

Here's a great book that cleverly offers advice for student writers!

In Roni Schotter's Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street, the main character--Eva--is struggling to write in her writers notebook until four of her neighbors stop by and give her four excellent pieces of advice on how writers write. Eva uses each piece of advice, and she is off both composing and revising. We selected this book as our very first Mentor Text of the Year because we felt the four pieces of advice were good enough to be used in any writing lesson throughout the school year.

Original student samples inspired by Roni's book
(these students used WritingFix's on-line assignment that goes with 90th Street)

The Courageous Warrior
by Kirsten, fifth grade writer

Person/Character: a warrior
Place/Setting: a bridge
Thing: a sandal

Swish!! Swish!! You could hear the fighting noises from miles away as the warrior and the enemy brawled on the old, rickety, wooden bridge that arched over a long, skinny river. The bridge was a squeaky mouse as they clashed their heavy feet, battling over the treasure. Dressed in her bleach-white ghi with a pitch-black belt wrapped around her thin waist, the warrior karate chops the enemy. “HOI YA!” she shouts. All of a sudden the enemy flips the warrior and she lands on the ground next to a nearby bush. Searching around for a rock, the warrior reaches back and finds something solid in the bush. She pulls it out and notices it’s a sandal. She wonders for a moment until she sees her enemy approaching. Knowing that she has no time, she quickly throws the sandal forcefully. Flipping in the air and spinning and spinning like there’s no tomorrow, the sandal knocks the enemy over, onto the bridge. The force of his fall causes the bridge to break. Suddenly, the enemy and the sandal fall into the river. At the same time, the treasure is catapulted into the air and the warrior watches it land on the other side. The enemy sinks into the water and floats downstream with the skinny sandal. While she watches the enemy float away, the courageous warrior thinks, “What if the enemy comes back for revenge?”

The Creature
by Tommy, seventh grade writer

Person/Character: a sailor
Place/Setting: a boat
Thing: a monster

Captain MacLeod had been sailing the oceans ever since he was a wee lad. This night was different; it was darker and deeper than ever before. Captain MacLeod was standing on the bow of the boat in his yellow rain suit. He had no use for it tonight, but he just loved wearing it. The black waves silently hit the side of the slippery hull, making the boat rock back and forth, back and froth. The sea spray scorched his eyes, but he didn’t care. The waves started to grow larger, rocking the boat violently. Then, a huge black mass arose out of the water. It had red eyes and smelled of rotten flesh. Suddenly, something crashed into the side of the boat. Captain MacLeod reached for his rifle. He aimed at the creature’s eye. “What if?” he thought. “What if I miss?"

WritingFix's Popular 90th Street Lesson!

Lesson: Using 90th Street's Advice

Overview: After cleverly playing with the four pieces of writing advice from the book, students compose a paragraph about a character with an object in a setting. Students attempt to use all four pieces of advice from the book as they create a paragraph that might launch a longer story. After revising their paragraphs, students should be challenged to turn their paragraphs into longer stories.

An e-mail message from Roni Schotter
author of 2008-09's Mentor Text of the Year:

Dear Corbett and WritingFix,

Some time ago a teacher told me about your website and I checked it out and actually linked it to my website.  I felt honored and delighted to read what you wrote and shared about my book.  Now when you tell me that you have named 90TH STREET a "Mentor Text of the Year," I am truly honored!

When educators appreciate my books it is so special for me.  You are the gatekeepers--the people who introduce children to the world of words and literature--a sacred trust, if you ask me.  So, again, it is such an honor for me to know that you and other teachers consider my book of help and interest.  I wrote it out of my passion for words and story, and out of my desire to share that passion with children and encourage them to recognize the stories in THEIR lives, and be inspired to write about them.

--Roni Schotter

Just a Few 90th Street Ideas shared by Teachers during 2008-2009

"I love this book, but I find it to be a long story to read aloud in one sitting with my fifth graders. The first third of the book is about Eva getting writing advice from her neighbors, then the last two-thirds is about the story she creates. I break it up so that on the first day we read up to her getting the fourth piece of advice (from the soup lady).

"For a few days we just talk about the advice and try it out in our own journals. A few days later, we review the advice and then read the rest of the story."

--Dannie P., Texas


"What a great choice for your book of the year!  I have used this book for the past four years at the beginning of the year to kick off my picture-book writing lessons! 

"After reading the book to the students, I tell them that for homework they have to pick a spot by their house, inside or out, where they can sit quietly for fifteen minutes observing everything around them.  Their assignment is to write down every thing they see, hear, feel, smell, etc. in fifteen minutes. 

"The next day in class we revisit the characters in the story and their writing tips for Eva.  Then the students read over their lists, eliminating any thing that they don’t think will fit in their 'Nothing Ever Happens…' stories.  (The title of their story will be their address put in place of '90th Street.' This really seems to personalize the story for them, as everyone likes to write about themselves!)

"Next, we talk about the elements of the story that they should include….a bit of poetry (alliteration seems to work best for fourth graders!), a hint of romance (usually they choose to have animals fall in love at this age!), stretching the truth to make the story better, and finally using 'spicy' words to make their story come alive! 

"After editing and revising, the students add they own touches to the cover and we present the stories for everyone to read!  They remember these writing tips all year in all of the other writings that they do, especially that the whole world is a 'stage' and there are stories everywhere!  This book is also a great way to introduce the writing traits, beginning with 'ideas.'"

--Christine L., North Carolina


"I teach 6th grade.  I planned on having the kids 'map their neighborhood' to get ideas for writing personal narratives.  I modeled the neighborhood where I grew up.  The class was excited as they drew their own neighborhoods and label events within those areas.  One kid drew a great map and then said, 'I can't think of anything that ever happens in my neighborhood.'

"I jumped to grab the book and read it to the class as they finished up their maps.  After a little more prodding and questioning, he realized that every home, vacant lot, and street had a story he could tell. 

"The book is longer than most picture books but really helped my class see the "story" in everything.  I will go back to this book several times to help illustrate points as I have the kids working in writer workshop."

--Liz R., Utah

"After reading Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street, I had my students form groups based on which advice they liked best. Students worked in small groups to paraphrase the advice onto sentence strips, or write a quote from the book about the advice. I placed the sentence strips on the bulletin board along with each character's picture.

"Now after students finish a piece of writing, they highlight their favorite part. Students place their best writing excerpts onto sentence strips, which are added under the advice from the book."

--Nicole F., Nevada


"Let me first say that your website has been an inspiration to my teaching and to my work with colleagues!  Thank you!!

"I used your lesson for Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street with my 6th Grade students this school year.  This book truly was a mentor text for Writing Workshop in my classroom throughout the year.  We often referred back to the different pieces of advice during peer collaborations/revisions, mini-lessons, and writing discussions.  But, I felt like this text could play a larger role for writing beyond the walls of my own classroom.  I kept playing around with the idea until almost the end of our school year and then it hit me.  I have been asked to leave the classroom and step into the role of academic coach for our K-6 building.  The first action I took, after signing my contract, was to order a copy of this book for every classroom teacher. 

"My plans are to utilize this text as an anchor piece in facilitating writing workshop for our entire school building.  During our back to school in-service, I will provide the teachers with this text and the lesson plan from your site.  We will then spend some collaboration time discussing ideas for utilization in their individual classrooms.  Once the teachers have gotten Writer's Workshop underway and have utilized your lesson, I am making plans for the students in our school to receive advice from the various faculty and staff employed on our campus.  The students will take a 'field trip' around the building to see if Nothing Ever Happens on Ouachita 88.  Visits will include a stop in the cafeteria to receive advice from the food service staff about putting flavor into your writing with word choice.  Another stop will be in the principal's office where students associate discipline and guidance and they will hear advice on using structure to build a good solid piece of writing with content and remembering to follow the mechanical rules when editing.  Students will also visit with the art teacher who will advise the students to use their pencil to paint with words like an artist paints a beautiful picture on a canvas.  One stop will include a visit to our school music teacher who will talk to the students about rhythm and beat and our unique voice in writing to make music in our ears. 

"When I spoke to our principal about this project, she was thrilled at the idea.  I've also spoken to the other various faculty members who will be playing key roles, all are excited and on-board.  I can't wait for school to start again next fall!  I am anxious to see the results in our student writing!  Talk about a learning community!

"Thank you for all of the wonderful tools and resources you provide!"

--Terri D., Arkansas

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Nominate a Title for 2010-2011's Mentor Text of the Year!

Our Mentor Text of the Year is selected based on how practical it would be for a teacher to refer back to the book's ideas, structure, or craft techniques throughout an entire school year. There are plenty of great mentor texts that work for single lessons. We're looking for a book with elements that deserve to be visited and re-visited multiple times in these nominees. To nominate a title, send us an e-mail at webmaster@writingfix.com.

Already nominated for 2010-2011:

The Boy Who Loved Words
by Roni Schotter

Written Anything Good Lately?
Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman


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Please, share the resources you find on these pages freely with fellow educators, but please leave any page citations on handouts intact, and please give authorship credit to the cited teachers who created these wonderful lessons and resources. Thanks in advance for honoring other educators' intellectual property.

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