Monday, March 30, 2015

Using Mentor Texts as a Guide to Help Teach the Six Traits of Writing

by S. Romero

As teachers, we all know how important it is for our students to learn to develop proper writing skills. Learning the six traits of writing is vital for our students to become good writers. Using mentor texts is also a great and fun way to teach and model these traits of writing!

When teaching the six traits, I select a picture book or mentor text in English or Spanish (depending on the language of the day) that my students will enjoy as a read aloud. We analyze the book together and review its ideas (theme), organization (story structure), word choice (descriptive words used and word phrases), voice (writer’s mood or personality), sentence fluency (review how sentences flow with good syntax and free of fragments), and conventions (correct use of punctuation, spelling, and capitalization). This allows us to use the author’s craft as a writing model.

When modeling the six traits, I focus on one trait at a time through a mini-lesson. For example, when I focused on organization, I read the book The Napping House by Audrey Wood, we analyzed and discussed the sequence of events in the story and how those events were structured.

I also created a story map as a visual for my students to see how the sequence of events take place in the correct order. We discussed why it’s important for our writing to be well organized and should have good flow.

After our mini-lesson, my students created a three-way foldable. In each square my students wrote the events that took place in each order and drew a picture to demonstrate each event. This activity allow for my students to break apart each major event from the beginning, middle and end. This activity also helped pave the way to demonstrate an understanding on how to identify a stories plot, since it usually takes place in the middle of a story.

I also modeled the other five traits through the use of this one mentor text! There are a plethora of mentor text in our libraries and bookstores that can be used to teach these traits and make your writing time fun and engaging!

Mentor texts have always been part of my writing instruction. This is why I was giving the opportunity to be part of the development of Blooming Writers/El Escritor Floriciente, which is a wonderful resource to use for teaching the Six Traits of Writing. It is filled with Spanish and English writing lessons that include mentor texts and examples of how to model each trait through the use of that text. What mentor text can you think of that would be great to model one of the Six Traits of Writing?


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  2. I'm a 2nd grade bilingual teacher and I'm in the process of collecting titles of great mentor texts in Spanish. I have a nice library of English books but I'm building my Spanish. Unfortunately not all my titles are available in Spanish translation. Do you have a list you can share of your go-to titles?



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