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Mentor Texts: Literature-inspired Lessons
using literature excerpts to inspire skilled, thoughtful writing from students of all ages

WritingFix features several very popular collections of lessons, all of which are categorized by the type of mentor text that is used to inspire the students' writing; our picture book collection is the most popular, but so too are our collections inspired by chapter book exerpts, poetry, and song lyrics.

As we built these popular collections through our work with teachers during workshops, we kept asking ourselves, "What else could serve as a mentor text for a writing lesson?" The idea of using great literature to inspire a skill-based writing lesson is the thought that built the lesson collection housed on this page.

A mentor text is a published piece of writing whose idea, whose structure, or whose written craft can be analyzed andd discussed as a means of inspiring their own writing. During our Northern Nevada teacher workshops, we help our participants explore all three of these purposes of a mentor text. Here is a link to a Powerpoint slideshow used by one of our trainers, Corbett Harrison; it explains the three categories of mentor texts we ask our teachers to think about. As you explore the lessons posted on this page--alone or with colleagues--here are two discussion questions to help you think about these lessons' design: "Is the mentor text being used to inspire an idea, a structure, or a craft skill from student writers? What's an additional mentor text that you might incorporate into the already-written lesson that would add another opportunity for students to think about ideas, structures, or writing skills?"

These lessons are just for high school and middle school literature teachers. Traditionally, teachers use the great works of literature during their college preperatory literacy programs and for those literary analysis writing assignments. The lessons on this page are purposely different. They ask the student writer to imitate the ideas, structures, or writing skills used by the greatest authors of our time. Students do not write literary analyses here; they write narratives and poetry based on their analysis of writing skills used by these great authors in excerpts or single chapters.

The lessons on this page can certainly be used during teaching units based on any of the great novels featured below. But think beyond that too. Most of these lessons here can be used without having to read the entire text being cited, so the lessons are appropriate for both the college bound and the non-college bound. The Tale of Two Cities lesson, for example, focuses students just on the writing style in the famous first paragraph from Dickens' novel; teaching this writing lesson requires no further reading of the novel. But might just using the lesson well with a non-college bound student inspire him/her to someday pick up the book and read it independently? And couldn't a fifth grade teacher use the lesson well, piquing the interest early on of a student who may someday be assigned the entire work in high school?

Please...think beyond your traditional view of using literature when you look over these lesson. Don't avoid these great lessons just because you don't teach the great books that serve as their mentor texts. Excerpts from larger works make superb writing lessons that can be considered use-able by any teacher.

Propose your own Literature-inspired Lesson! Join our WritingFix Family!

Propose your own literature-inspired lesson to be posted at WritingFix! Here is our template for literature-inspired teachers' lessons. If we end up using your lesson at WritingFix, we will send you any two of the NNWP's Print Resources as our way of saying thank-you for sharing your ideas with the thousands of teachers who use this website.

On this page:


Looking for books that inspire student writing?


Click here to see our favorite books.

Fourteen Model Writing Lessons that Use Literary Excerpts as Mentor Texts:
Three Lessons Inspired by John Steinbeck's Craft Skills and Ideas:

Lesson:
Painting Places with Words

Mentor Text: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (excerpt from chapter 1)

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Sentence Fluency

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Madelyn Read.

Lesson:
A Monster of a Metaphor

Mentor Text: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (excerpt from chapter 5)

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Sentence Fluency

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Tamara Turnbeaugh.

Lesson:
Tasting an Oxymoron

Mentor Text: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (excerpt from chapter 17)

Focus Trait: Organization
Support Trait: Idea Development

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Corbett Harrison.

Two Lessons Inspired by Lord of the Flies:


Lesson:
Same Setting, Different Moods

Lesson's Mentor Text: Lord of the Flies by William Golding (excerpt from chapter 3)

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Sentence Fluency

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Tamara Turnbeaugh.


Lesson:
Just Because Poems

Mentor Text: Lord of the Flies by William Golding (excerpt from chapter 2)

Focus Trait: Voice
Support Trait: Idea Development

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Rob Stone.

Two Lessons Inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird:


Lesson:
"I Never Knew That!"

Mentor Text: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (excerpt from chapter 10)

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Organization

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Phil Harriman.


Lesson:
Mob's Voice vs. Hero's Voice

Mentor Text: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (excerpt from chapter 15)

Focus Trait: Voice
Support Trait: Word Choice

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Jamie Priddy.

Lesson:
Antonyms and Comma Splices

Mentor Text: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (excerpt from chapter 1)

Focus Trait: Conventions
Support Trait: Word Choice

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Corbett Harrison.

Lesson: Writing About a First Impression

Mentor Text: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (excerpt from chapter 2)

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Word Choice

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by Nevada middle school teacher Teresa Gil.

Lesson:
Showing Creative Problem Solving

Mentor Text: Call of the Wild by Jack London (excerpt from pages 17-18)

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Word Choice

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Lisa Larson.

Lesson:
A Poem for Two Voices for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Mentor Text: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide by Robert Louis Stevenson (short excerpts from chapters 1-6)

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Voice

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Temoca Dixon.

Lesson:
Ulysses: Time Traveler

Mentor Text: The Adventures of Ulysses by Bernard Evslin

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Organization

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by Nevada middle school teacher Ruth Oxborrow.

Lesson:
A Time Traveler's Log

Mentor Text: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (excerpt from chapter 4)

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Voice

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by Nevada middle school teacher Teresa Gil.

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WritingFix Teacher-Users' Ideas Inspired by this Page
Review your Favorite Literary Classic for WritingFix
WritingFix Teacher-Users' Ideas Inspired by this Page
Review a Classic Poem for WritingFix

Northern Nevada Writing Project Teacher Consultant, Dena Harrison, is inviting teacher-users of WritingFix to share ideas inspired by the lessons we've posted on this page.

Dena said, "I think every good writing teacher out there has a favorite excerpt or chapter from a literary classic that they like to share with their students. I hope people will share their favorites, if we set up a place for them to do so."

We have set-up a forum on our Writing Lesson of the Month where teachers can freely submit:

  • Directions on finding the excerpt in the larger work, as well as a personal review of what makes it worth reading and sharing with your students;
  • plus, a brief explation of how you use the excerpt with your students, especially if you use it to inspire a piece of writing.

To share, click here, and post a write-up in the "Reply to this" box below the post. If you do not see the "Reply to this" box, you'll need to click on the "+Join Book Reviews!" in the upper right-hand corner of the page.

If we like the idea you post, we may contact you to see if you might be interested in creating a longer write-up that can posted at this resource page.

 


What great poems from literature do you use to inspire your students to write their own poems or stories? We want to know about them! We hope you'll share.

We're not looking for Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein reviews here. We're looking for reviews of poems written by the great modern or historical poets. The "classics," if you will.

We have set-up a forum on our Writing Lesson of the Month where teachers can freely submit:

  • A review and persopnal interpretation of the poem you use with your students, helping us understand why you think it is a greta poem;
  • plus, a brief explation of how you use the excerpt with your students, especially if you use it to inspire a piece of writing.

To share, click here, and post a write-up in the "Reply to this" box below the post. If you do not see the "Reply to this" box, you'll need to click on the "+Join Book Reviews!" in the upper right-hand corner of the page.

If we like the idea you post, we may contact you to see if you might be interested in creating a longer write-up that can posted at this resource page.

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Eleven Lessons inspired by Twelve "Classic" Poems
Two Lessons based on the Wonderful William Carlos Williams
Two Lessons inspired by our Webmaster's Favorite Poet: E. A. Robinson

Lesson:
Poems of
Apology

Mentor Text: Williams' poem, "This is Just to Say," as well as This is Just to Say by Joyce Sidman

Focus Trait: Sentence Fluency
Support Trait: Idea Development

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Todd Herman.

Lesson:
So Much
Depends Upon...

Mentor Text: Williams' poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow," as well as Love that Dog by Sharon Creech

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Sentence Fluency

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Dena Harrison.

Lesson:
CSI: The Cory
Crime Scene

Mentor Text: E. A. Robinson's poem, "Richard Cory" as well as Simon and Garfunkel's song "Richard Cory"

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Word Choice

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Corbett Harrison.

Lesson:
The Butcher's
Tale

Mentor Text: E. A. Robinson's poem, "Reuben Bright"


Focus Trait:
Idea Development
Support Trait: Voice

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Corbett Harrison.

Lesson:
Poems of
Condition

Mentor Text: "If" by Rudyard Kipling

Focus Trait: Sentence Fluency
Support Trait: Idea Development

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Rebekah Foster.

Mentor Text: "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love" by Christopher Marlowe

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Word Choice

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by Nevada teacher Matt Fockler.

Lesson:
HATE to LOVE
Sonnets

Mentor Text: "Shall I compare Thee..." sonnet by William Shakespeare

Focus Trait: Word Choice
Support Trait: Conventions

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by Nevada teacher Crystal M. Johnson.

Lesson:
How Do I Love
Sonnets

Mentor Text: Sonnet #43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Focus Trait: Sentence Fluency
Support Trait: Word Choice

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Amie Newberry.

Share How You Use a Great Poem to Inspire Student Writing!
Click here!

Lesson:
Serendipitous
Personification

Mentor Text: "The Railway Train" by Emily Dickinson and "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer

Focus Trait: Word Choice
Support Trait: Idea Development

This lesson was one of the original twenty-one writing prompts that began WritingFix in 2001.

Mentor Text: John Donne's poem, "Death Be Not Proud" as well as Markus Zusak's The Book Thief.

Focus Trait: Voice
Support Trait: Idea Development

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Rob Stone.

Lesson:
Lost Toy Friend
Poems

Mentor Text: Robert Louis Stevenson's poem, "The Dumb Soldier"

Focus Trait: Idea Development
Support Trait: Voice

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Consultant Regan Ringler Hartzell.

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© Copyright 2015 - WritingFix- All Rights Reserved.
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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