Resources, Writing

Finding ELA Mentor Texts

You don’t need to wait until you are reading a great novel to talk to your students about great writing. No matter how you set up your high school English class (units or workshops) you can incorporate examples of great writing through the use of mentor texts.

Mentor texts can be used in your class to model reading: the use of reading strategies or analysis of literary elements. They can also be used to model writing (have students read as writers), where the text is used as a model students can use to guide their own attempts at writers moves.

Why reinvent the wheel when there are so many amazing free resources out there? You also do not have to round up a ton of great selections from what you have read (or if you are me, listened to-audiobooks are my BFFS). There are tons of resources out there that have compiled selections for yo, some even with suggested teaching activities. Here are some of my go toos:

CBC’s Canada Reads

“Canada Reads” is a yearly battle of the books that focus specifically on Canadian authors. It occurs at the end of March and is a great activity to follow along with for your class. Their website also posts past contenders. Click on the book title and you will get a synopsis as well as an expert from the novel.

CBC’s “First Page” Writing Challenge

The “First Page” annual writing challenge asks students to write the first page of a novel that imagines how a present day issues and trends (e.g. climate change) has impacted the future 150 years from now. The website has an archive of all past winners and finalists, useful for models for the contest as well as for use as mentor texts.

New York Times Learning Network

Includes many amazing resources (daily lessons, writing prompts, quizzes & vocabulary, Photo/Graphs/Videos and contents). Their large collection of mentor texts include the text, audio readings of the text and annotations explaining their writing moves by the authors themselves. Don’t have a lot of time, focus on a sentence.

Mentor Text Study: Essays & more collected by teachers & Penny Kittle & Kelly Gallagher

Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher are well known for their books on teaching high school English. They (with the help of other teachers) have created a padlet collection of mentor texts (of various types of writing). Penny Kittle also has a list of mentor texts on her website.

Mentor Text Database

A curated database of mentor texts.

Moving Writers

Allison Marchetti + Rebekah O’Dell are teachers passionate about writing (having written many books on teaching writing). They have compiled mentor texts but have also shared how they use them in the classroom to move students forward in their writing. They have also created YouTube videos to support teaching specific writing moves. You can also access the Moving Writers Mentor Text Drop Box (google drive).

The Pulitzer Price Winners

The Pulitzer Price is awarded to those who show excellence in journalism or the arts and has been give out since 1917. Excerpts from the 2006 winners. Focus on opening lines.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Includes excerpts from a variety of genres.

Google it!

Lastly you can google the type of writing or the specific writers move you’d like to find and mentor text. For example if you are looking for narrative writing mentor texts google: narrative writing mentor text and you will find numerous examples. You can even specify the age group for example: narrative writing mentor text high school. Here are some of the ones I found:

Personal narrative mentor texts

Essays mentor texts

Why not use the mentor text and then have your students write an entry and submit it to a contest or publication?

You can also google awards and contests (some of the examples above) they may be one of the best places to find mentor texts as they often share past finalists/winners.

You can google online magazines for the genra or type of writing you are looking for. Literary magazines/anthologies are a good bet for a wide variety of texts and also tend accept submissions from young writers.

Do you have an online resource that you go to to find great mentor texts? If so, share in the comments 🙂



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