Saturday, September 21, 2013

I'm Back and Mentor Sentences

Wow!  I can't believe my last post was in June.  My goal was to post several times a week over the summer but that definitely didn't happen.  I'm not completely sure why, but I was very unmotivated to do much this summer.  There were many things that caused this lack of motivation, but that is the past.  Now I'm back and excited about the new things that are happening in my world.

The first bit of big news is that I am now teaching third grade.  I really can't explain how excited I am about this.  After teaching fifth grade for the last four years I am now back to my beloved third grade.  Fifth grade had its advantages, but my passion is working with kids that are a bit younger.  And I must say that I lucked out with my group of 22 students.  I am in love with my class and can't wait to continue their third grade journey as their teacher.

Now to the main purpose of this post...

I ventured into the world of mentor sentences.  I first read about mentor sentences last spring from Ideas by Jivey.  I made the decision then that I would give a try this year.  When I found out that I would be teaching third grade I questioned that decision, but after thinking about it this summer, I decided to jump in.  

I used a sentence from the book, Julius, the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes.  The sentence was Lilly's parents were amused when Julius blew a bubble.

I chose this sentence because of the plural noun and possessive noun.  I have already noticed that my students have been mixing up when to use the apostrophe and when not to.

On Monday when the students walked into the room I had them glue the sentence into their notebook.    Together we did the Invitation to Notice.  This is where they notice all of the elements that make this sentence worthy of being a mentor sentence.  This is what we came up with.

I was shocked that one of my students came up with the fact that blew was a homophone.  (He didn't actually use the word homophone but he explained what he meant.). If I hadn't introduced mentor sentences I wouldn't have known that he knew that.  My students have also found several other homophones over the last week which tells me that they are already connecting to what they are learning.

On Tuesday we did the Invitation to Notice-Parts of Speech.  I had the students copy the sentence in their notebook, skipping lines.  Today was very informative for me.  I realized that they knew vey little about the parts of speech.  In fact, they only really knew what nouns were so that is all we labeled this week.  This is what we did.

I will introduce the other parts of speech starting next week.

On Wednesday we did the Invitation to Revise.  I spent some time explaining what it meant to revise.  I don't think many of my scholars had heard the word revise before.  I showed them my example.

Overall I was satisfied with what they came up with.  Most of them just added an adjective to describe the bubbles but that works for me for now.

On Thursday, we had the Invitation to Imitate.  I spent some time explaining what it meant to imitate and that writers imitate others all the time.  I showed them my examples.

We talked about what parts of the sentence was imitated and then I had them get started.  I was very nervous of what they would come up with, but I was extremely surprised by what they came up with.  I checked them as they finished and selected four of the best ones and had them write them on sentence strips. 

Then I hung them and the mentor sentence in our classroom window.

On Friday, I gave them an assessment where they had to correct the sentence and then circle the nouns in other sentences from the book since we focused on nouns this week. We completed this first assessment together so that they knew exactly what I expected.

I can't believe how well my first attempt at mentor sentences went.  I'm excited to see the growth of my students as we venture further into our mentor sentences.  

You can learn more about mentor sentences from Jivey here.   


  1. Good job! I was searching for some ideas to help my daughter and I saw this excellent post. It is so pleasant to see the work of such enthusiastic teachers who don`t come to the classroom just because it is their have to do it. Unfortunately, we had to get help from essay help service as I couldn`t help my child and I didn`t want her to be the worst in her class (it is very important for her self-esteem) So, this year we have decided to work hard at home.

  2. Thanks so much for this post! I've been looking for resources to help out with teaching with mentor sentences.

    1. I'm so glad that this post was helpful as you venture into mentor sentences. I found it extremely effective with my group of students that year and their writing grew exponentially because they were constantly trying to mimic the sentences that we were studying. Throughout the year, I made sure that I pointed out when students were using concepts that they learned from mentor sentences in their own writing. I'm not longer teaching literacy, but if I ever return to this content area I will definitely usr mentor sentences as a part of my instructional day.