Welcome. My name is Corbett Harrison, and I have been an educator and a teacher-trainer since August of 1990. I specialize in teaching writing using differentiated instruction. I also focus on critical thinking techniques, especially during the pre-writing and revision steps of the writing process. Every year, I challenge myself to improve my instruction: I am curretly developing grammar and vocabulary lessons so that they're differentiated and promote deep, critical thinking skills, and I incorporate them into my classroom routines to promote a student-centered classroom environment.

The Northern Nevada district I serve has a "balanced calendar" that has me teaching from early August to early June, and during my 7 weeks of summer and during my two annual two-week breaks, I independently contract to present workshops to school districts and professional organizations around the country.

My next available week to present is the week of October 3, 2016. I have been booked to be in Montana the week of October 17.

Our spring break is March 20-31, 2017. As of yet, I have had no requests for either of my two weeks.

I have begun receiving requests for the summer of 2017, but nothing has been officially booked yet.

You can find general information about the cost of my workshops here.

If you would like to check my availability for 2016-17, please contact me at my e-mail address.

Always
Write

 
       Because writing--when taught right--can be the most enjoyable part of your teaching day, I created this website.

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I use mentor texts in just about every writing lesson these days. They allow me to teach ideas, structures, and authentic writing skills to my kids.

A mentor text is a published piece of writing a teacher uses during a writing lesson to either a) teach a writing skill or to b) motivate the students to want to write something creatively similar. I first heard the term in 2006 at a conference, and my immediate thought was, "Why, I've been using those in my lessons for years. How nice to know they have been given an official name!" I think a big part of recycling ideas in education is reinventing old ideas by disguising them with cool new names...like mentor texts. Those of you who've been teaching more than a dozen years probably know what I mean by "reinventing old ideas" in education. I've been teaching long enough to see some ideas come and go by the wayside three full cycles now, not just twice. I'm genuinely trying not to be cynical about it anymore.

When I encountered that term mentor text at in summer of 2006, I decided not to let my cynicism overshadow the opportunity. I figured if they'd bothered to name an old, nameless idea, they must have some fresh ideas about using them that they've recently discovered. I listened intently at each conference session, then processed the information by reflecting on my own classroom practices. What I discovered was that I already had three distinctly different ways I was using mentor texts to design my writing lessons, so I classified them into three groups. I did this to see if I could figure out which category of the three I used more frequently, and I used that information to help me decide on what technique I wanted to work on with my next set of lessons. I chose to design some new lessons inspired by the mentor text technique I discovered I used the least. I set it as a professional development goal with my evaluator, and I've been working on bettering my use of mentor texts ever since.

Besides being a well-liked 6th-8th grade teacher (though I've taught writing to 3rd-12th grades), I too am a presenter of professional development. I don't like traveling away from my wife and my dogs more than five or six times in a year, so even though I have presented over a dozen times at the national conferences, I have chosen not to do much of that over the past five or six years. Northern Nevada has several local teacher organizations that put on district-wide conferences here for teacher re-certification credit, and I'm a regular speaker at those local events. I turned my "classification of mentor texts" into a half-day session, and it has become a popular request when organizations are "booking" me to speak.

What you are finding on this page is the work I did around mentor texts as a presenter from 2006 until the present. I have posted my handouts and links to the very lessons I would have my participants analyze (and write to!) for how the mentor text is incorporated. I happily give all this mentor text stuff away for free, but I hope if you like it and make use of anything on this resource page, you'll also check out my work on Writer's Notebooks, Sacred Writing Time, and Vocabulary Workshop. These three subjects are the professional development topics I've developed into sessions for teachers, and they also continue to serve as a backbone for my students' weekly routines that teach reading and writing skills.

About our copyright: If you find something useful here, I hope you'll share it with others. If you have success sharing it, I hope you'll take the time to let me know about it. I genuinely appreciate the kind words I receive from teachers and trainers who've borrowed from this page. If you keep my page citations on all my handouts on this page, you have my permission to make as many hard copies of any mentor text resource for your own students or training sessions.

Classified Mentor Texts: My Three Categories
I just revised this popular, free-to-use handout that we share at Teachers Pay Teachers

We all have those favorite books (or poems or short stories) we absolutely love to read out loud with our students. When I start discussing mentor texts at my teacher workshops, I always like to ask my participants, "What are your best read-alouds? What author's words do you bring to life best?" Teachers love to share the story titles that captivate their students the most. I usually have to pry teachers away from that discussion question with a metaphorical crow-bar so we can proceed with the training, and this always reminds me of some true facts. True Fact #1: Teachers like to talk about their favorite texts to read. True Fact #2: Students like to be asked to write stories, poems, and responses based on something the teacher loves to read; they'd much rather do that than find inspiration in something the teacher doesn't enjoy sharing: like any five-paragraph essay, just to throw an example into the ring.

I have two things I read aloud the best. I guarantee you will not find anyone--yes, this is a challenge!--who reads the first chapter of Animal Farm out loud better than I do; I have the best 'Old Major voice' (plus, I wear a pig snout that day!), and when I sing the song Old Major teaches the animals, I actually achieve vibrato! My second read aloud came to light thanks to an inservice class my wife and I co-taught for many years. I had written this pretty good writing lesson based on chapter four of Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, which I read aloud to the class participants. On the drive home from class one night, she said, "I don't know what it is about that chapter, but when you read it out loud, it's like you become the author's voice." I don't argue when my wife compliments me, but it's amazing how--even after you've shared something aloud dozens of times--if you love the words and the way the author put them down, you can still make it come alive for others.

Now I absolutely must stress something here: a good read-aloud text for listening and a mentor text for writing are not necessarily the same thing. They might be, but there's no guarantee that just because your kids enjoy hearing the story read aloud that it will make a strong mentor text for writing. From experience, I have to warn teachers of this early on. Too many times I have seen my workshop participants really struggle to build a skill-based writing lesson from a story that makes a better read aloud than it does a text for teaching/inspiring writing.

A mentor text should ultimately be discussed by students for one of two purposes: 1) to showcase a writing skill found in the text that you want students to notice and then practice in their own writing; and 2) to motivate students to write something different-yet-similar that was inspired by the mentor text's idea or structure.

In 2006, when I made the decision to learn even more about mentor texts and how they affected my writing instruction, I spread out 15-20 of my very favorite mentor texts from my very best writing lessons on the carpet in front of my bookshelf. In Language Arts, I require my students do "sorts" all the time with words and sentences and quotes, and so I was immediately inspired to attempt to sort my mentor texts in an interesting way. I sorted them first by genre. I sorted them next by reading level. Neither of these sorts did much to challenge my thinking. However, when I asked myself, "How are you specifically using these mentor texts to teach writing?" something really interesting happened. I made a discovery that became very meaningful to me. The sort I ended up doing showed me that I had three distinctly different ways I was using mentor texts to inspire student writing. I was using some of my texts as idea mentor texts, some as structure mentor texts, and others as craft mentor texts. You can read about these three different categories I created by viewing the PowerPoint slideshow, which you can freely download at our Teachers Pay Teachers store or by clicking on the picture of my opening slide, which is at right. In my PowerPoint slides, I define each category, and I share a purposefully diverse selection of mentor texts that I have personally used while designing writing instruction to 3rd-12th grade writers. When I present to teachers about mentor texts, I explain how it's the writing task I have students complete after being exposed to the text that determines in which category I place the text. This is a pretty important concept to understand before you can start sharpening your own use of mentor texts, and so it deserves the discussion I set aside for it at my trainings. I usually place a pile of possible mentor texts at each table in the training room, and my participants like to sort them once they watch the Powerpoint. They discover that the same mentor texts can be used to teach a variety of things.

I find a lot of my teacher workshop participants expect the incorporation of mentor texts into writing instruction to be easy, but it really isn't. Just because you have a well-written or engaging text to discuss before students begin writing does not guarantee you have a better writing lesson. Allow me to explain this opinion I have with an example mentor text that I know many already teachers know about: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg.

Now, I'm being serious here...if ever there was a perfect idea mentor text, it's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. An idea mentor text--and I say this assuming you've already watched my explanatory PowerPoint slideshow from above--is one whose purpose is to push students to brainstorm and pursue an original idea inspired by an author's original idea. What Van Allsburg creates so beautifully with this picture book is an imaginary story that there are these dozen or so "lost stories" that were created by this fictional illustrator/writer named Harris Burdick; all that currently remains of each story is a single (and beautiful!) captioned illustration and a story title. The book's twelve illustrations, captions, and story titles, when shown to student writers, genuinely excite them to want to create what they believe one of the lost stories must have been. See how this author--Van Allsburg--had this original idea that launches original ideas from student writers? That's an idea mentor text, and as I said, this one is pretty much perfect. By design, it is an idea mentor text; my other mentor texts are usually inspired by accidental ideas that occur to us.

Genuine excitement from writers is a good thing, and mentor texts often provide this type of excitement. But my "Seven Elements of a Differentiated Writing Lesson" Workshop isn't simply about exciting students to write; rather, it's about exciting them and then providing them with high-quality instruction so that writing their Harris Burdick-inspired tales teach them some genuine writing skills that real authors know about and practice and perfect as they go through a writer's workshop inspired by the story they are writing. Over the years, I have seen some pretty mediocre (as well as some dreadful) pieces of student writing inspired by The Mysteries of Harris Burdick; it takes a great mentor text and a great writing lesson to help students excel past mediocrity. Ideas alone do not create good pieces of writing; good ideas and good instruction are what it takes to inspire great student writing.

I'll conclude this section on this resource page by reiterating what I said a few paragraphs back. Good writing instruction has never been never easy; it involves many purposeful elements (seven of them, according to my most requested workshop) coming together as the writing process unfolds, and use of mentor texts is but one of those elements. If what I've said on this page intrigues you, I invite you to explore the entire set of materials for my "7 Elements of a Differentiated Writing Lesson" Workshop (available at Teachers Pay Teachers) and begin categorizing your mentor texts for writing. Or--better yet--have your school or district's professional development coordinator contact me about coming and presenting the idea to your staff in the future.

I also invite you to send me the names of favorite mentor texts you use in your classroom that fall into one of my three categories of mentor texts: idea, structure, or craft: corbett@corbettharrison.com.

Mentor Text Recommendations: One Idea, One Structure, and One Craft
The mentor text at left is a great mentor text, but it's not a very unique recommendation on my part. I hope I'm not the first teacher who has shown you The Important Book as a tool for writing instruction. Step #1: Read the book; Step #2: Have students impersonate the obvious structure of the book while writing about other things you've learned (or are learning) about recently.

I strive to be unique in my students' eyes. I want my kiddos to remember unique things about me, like how I am probably the only teacher they had who actually showed them pages from his own writer's notebook, or how I am probably the only teacher who taught them to sing (loudly!) Emily Dickinson poems aloud to the theme song from "Gilligan's Island."

I mentioned Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick above as a superb idea mentor text, which it is. That book was first recommended to me by a college professor, and I used it (albeit pretty badly) my very first of teaching based on the recommendation. Over the years, I became better at using it as a mentor text, so I am always grateful for that professor who first made me aware of this amazing book to use to enhance my writing instruction. Because that book has been around for so long, I know that well-over 75% of the teachers using this webpage have already heard of it. I know it's not the most unique idea mentor text I could share.

I also assume that Margaret Wise Brown's The Important Book is not the most unique title I could share as a structure mentor text. I certainly hope 95% of you already own this little gem and are using it as a structure mentor text. Same thing with me trying to recommend any passage from John Steinbeck as a unique craft mentor text, right?

So here is what I am attempting to do with the following three book recommendations: I am attempting to share with you the most unique mentor text title I've thought of for all three types of mentor texts. I suspect the books-as-mentor-texts I am about to recommend are known, but that few have thought about how to incorporate them as an inspiration for writing. I share this with you in hopes that you'll share it with others. If you want to share a unique mentor text idea with me...you may: corbett@corbettharrison.com.

A Unique Idea Mentor Text:

Homer Price

by Robert McCloskey
A Unique Structure Mentor Text:

Caves

by Stephen Kramer
A Unique Craft Mentor Text:

All the Places to Love

by Patricia MacLachlan
So I expect most of you have likely heard of this classic chapter book, but I'm now throwing it to you as a unique idea mentor text. Enjoy that famous donut chapter by reading it again. McCloskey read-alouds beg for audience participation, and this is no exception.

Then, a few days later, use it to inspire the following unique writing idea from your students: invent and write about an automated machine that you wish existed to make your life easier. If they like the machines they "invent," they can go further, and tell the tale of their original machine going haywire, as it does in the mentor text.

Click here to access this lesson at WritingFix.
Don't make the mistake a lot of teacher I work with do by thinking structure mentor texts have to have structures as obvious as the one found in Margaret Wise Brown's The Important Book. Structure can-- and should, in fact-- be so subtle you might almost miss it . Good writing has structure, but it doesn't sound formulaic. Hamburger paragraphs and Jane Schaffer essays don't exist outside of the classroom.

Subtle structure is the case with Stephen Kramer's introductory two pages to his non-fiction picture book, Caves. Kramer begins with a paragraph that shares things you would never find in a cave; then he describes what you would see in a limestone cavern. Borrow this two-part, subtle structure to describe any setting: your bedroom, your classroom, your refrigerator. Your students can/will produce some interesting writing by focusing on what isn't there before they focus on what is. Trust me.

Click here to access this lesson
at WritingFix.
Some authors have the ability to write what sounds like poetry even though they're writing prose; it's a craft skill. Jane Yolen does it. Angela Johnson does too. MacLachlan is a master at it, as evidenced in this beautiful book. What I love about MacLachlan is that students notice crafty things she does that they can impersonate. In this text, have them note how often she begins sentences with prepositions, and have them discover her "sets of three." They're there. When they write about a special to love, have them impersonate these craft tricks. It works!

Click here to access this lesson at WritingFix.

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Explore Mentor Texts alongside Six other Research-based Practices

Like what I have to share about "Mentor Texts" on this page?
Wish you had the ability to attend one of my face-to-face workshops?

I very much enjoy presenting to groups of teachers about mentor texts. It is such an amazingly fun topic, upon which one can set so many personal and professional goals.

And yet...alas, I can only present so many times in any given year and still teach full-time Language Arts. There is, however, an alternative solution: I invite you to consider purchasing any of the PowerPoints and Workshop materials we sell at our Teachers Pay Teachers Store. When I create slideshows and a booklets for all my teacher trainings, I try to do something unique: I go out of my way to design them both in such a way that any teacher or teacher-trainer could independently navigate the slides at their own pace, complete the activities in the booklets, and learn independently from my materials. I know face-to-face is much more effective, but this is an alternative for those of you who are interested in some self-paced learning.

Which of my Products focus on Mentor Texts? Over the summers of 2008 and 2009, I designed one of my most ambitious two-day workshops ever; I wanted to combine all the best techniques research and practice had taught me about authentic writing instruction with the best things I'd learned about differentiated instruction. The result of this synthesis of best practices became my "7 Elements of a Differentiated Writing Lesson" Workshop. Over two days, we examine seven different elements that--when applied well and with a differentiated philosophy-- strengthen any writing lesson to work with a wider variety of students and learners. Mentor texts are one of the seven elements we explore with great detail during this workshop.

If you'd like to acquire my PowerPoints on all seven elements as well as the booklet used by participants during that two-day workshop, please know that they are available. Click here for details.

The Six Mentor Texts for Teachers that Inspired Four Popular Inservice Classes
My work with the Northern Nevada Writing Project, which began for me way back in 1996, gave me the confidence to create and teach somewhere between forty and fifty in-service classes and teacher workshops over the years. Some of these classes I designed with fellow NNWP colleagues, and some I designed my with my wonderful wife, Dena; other workshops I designed completely on my own.

I often base any new inservice workshops on a brand new professional book for teachers that I've discovered and enjoyed reading and implementing from. Below, I share the six mentor texts that I have used when designing six of my most successful and popular inservice classes for teachers and administrators.

When the economy was good for education in the past decade, the NNWP was often generous enough to purchase copies of these books for all our class participants. Over my many years of designing and delivering teacher workshops, I am fairly certain I have put well-over two or three hundred copies of each title below in the hands of my fellow Nevada educators. I'm proud of that fact; these six titles are books that I believe have the power to transform reluctant writing teachers into confident writing teachers, or to at least begin a journey down that path.

If you have copies of these texts available to you, start mining them for great new ideas to bring to your classroom. If you don't, encourage your librarian or administrator to allocate some budget money to put these into your staff's professional library.

Four Books for Teachers that Inspired Great Professional Development Classes
Revising!

Reviser's Toolbox by Barry Lane

I don't know the year it happened, but I remember so well the room where it took place and the person I was sitting next to. My Writing Project--the NNWP--brought author Barry Lane in for a Saturday workshop. We all received copies of the book pictured above, and we all enjoyed Barry's presentation that whole Saturday. It was the first time I'd met Barry, who is now a good friend of our family.

My Teaching Revision & Editing in-service: Because so many teachers I work with find revision terribly difficult to teach well, I created a new teacher workshop back in the 2008-2009 school year that focused on authentic scaffolding techniques and resources for two distinct steps of the writing process: revision and editing. Each participant received a copy of the wonderful resource pictured above.

You can access many of this workshop's resources by visiting the Revision Homepage at the WritingFix website.

Persuasive Writing!

Why We Must Run With Scissors by Gretchen Bernabei

I love the spirit behind this book of lesson ideas: teach and write persuasively with a good sense of humor. I was lucky to have several teachers from my past who were simply fun teachers with fun ideas for lessons. The lessons in the book pictured above remind me of those fun teachers.

My Persuasive Writing Across the Curriculum in-service: I created an inservice during the 2009-10 school year that focused on teaching persuasive voice in all curricular areas. Participants not only received a copy of the book pictured above, but they also designed R.A.F.T. writing prompts and other persuasive formats that helped students think deeply about classroom content.

I now offer this course as a Writing Across the Curriculum professional development experience for 4-12th grade teachers struggling with Common Core State Standards' W.A.C. requirements. Visit the Persuasive Writing Homepage at WritingFix for some of the class's resources.

Writer's Workshop & Writing Philosophy!

The 9 Rights of Every Writer by Vicki Spandel

Many summers back, I spent an incredible three days attending a 6-trait workshop put on by Vicki Spandel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the time, mere words could not describe the powerful philosophical discussions about writing we experienced at the guidance of this incredible thinker and author.

It was a philosophy-changing experience for me as a writing teacher. Several years later, Vicki published an amazing book--The 9 Rights of Every Writer--which so perfectly captured some of those epiphany-causing discussions that I had experienced in New Mexico during that summer.

Since then, whenever I have been asked to facilitate a "book study"-styled class for a group of teachers, this is the first text I recommend. Dozens of groups have since analyzed this book's thought-provoking messages with me. Each discussion, I walk away with something totally new too!

Vicki Spandel is truly a wise teacher and author.

Writing Across the Curriculum!

51 Wacky We-Search Reports by Barry Lane

I am so lucky to work on a team of educators who all make use of this little gem of a book. There are 51 fun ideas inside that help students write about non-fiction topics in their own words. My science colleague, my math colleague, and my history colleague all have their favorites lessons from this collection.

My Writing Across the Curriculum in-service: Back in 2006, I created a brand new inservice as part of my Writing Across the Curriculum Coordinator duties for the Northern Nevada Writing Project. Participants were thrilled to receive not only the book pictured above, but they also received copies of the NNWP's Going Deep with Compare & Contrast Thinking Guide.

This class ran regularly between 2006 and 2011, but I have now retired it as an inservice. Schools may still request the content if they are willing to commit to three professional development days at their sites. Check out the Wacky We-Search Homepage at WritingFix, where many of the workshop's resources are featured.

Expository Writing!

The Story of My Thinking by Gretchen Bernabei

Gretchen was kind enough to send this book to me, and I was immediately inspired to create a new version of my Expository Writing In-service class.

Before I had this wonderful book in my hands, I'd been using Gretchen's Reviving the Essay as my go-to text for fantastic ideas for teaching both expository and organizational pre-writing skills. This book takes the best ideas introduced in Reviving the Essay and explodes them into so many new ideas.

Just the appendix alone in this book--which contains dozens and dozens of 'essay maps' that will help your students understand structure without having to rely on an essay formula--is worth the price of the book. I can't tell you how many schools and PLCs have become excited to improve their expository teaching techniques after simply looking over those essay structures.

The 6 Writing Traits!

The Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide by the NNWP

In 2009, the NNWP inexplicably stopped supporting both WritingFix and the Lesson of the Month Ning, so Dena and I decided we would pay for these two websites to stay online out of our own pockets, and then through user donations starting in 2015. Back in 2006, the NNWP had finalized this guide to accompany all of the 6-trait inservice classes and workshops that focused on the WritingFix website's resources (which was over a dozen different classes!), and the LotM Ning inspired teachers from all over the country to purchase this guide. The NNWP benefited financially during the three years this guide was linked to both of those websites.

In 2015, I was thrilled to learn the current leadership of the NNWP figured out how to put this print guide back on-line and for sale through Amazon. I wish the NNWP luck with their sales.


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Clever Uses of Mentor Texts from our "Lesson of the Month" that We're Proud of...
If you haven't joined our Writing Lesson of the Month Ning, you're kind of missing out. Each month, we share a free-to-access lesson that is mentor text-inspired. Years after discovering the term "mentor text," I still continue to find new and exciting texts to inspire my students in completely different ways. Below, you can find fast access to some of my favorite mentor text-inspired lessons that have been featured as "Lessons of the Month" recently.
Normal or Nuts?
a writer's notebook task

inspired by Reader's Digest's
"Normal of Nuts?" regular feature


I've taught my students to borrow both the idea and structure of this regular and wonderful feature from "Reader's Digest." I teach middle school, and this is a perfect writing task for middle school-minded students!

Historical Tour Guide Scripts
an expository skill-based lesson


inspired by Cathy Morgan and Holly Young's Help Wanted at Mount Vernon


This is definitely an idea mentor text, which means I teach my students to appreciate the idea that inspired a real and published piece of writing; then, they are required to replicate the idea with an original piece of writing that does something original.

The borrowed idea: animals as tour guides for historical places. The expectation: write about a different historical place borrowing the idea of the animal tour guide


Fix Dickens' Comma Splices
a grammar and style lesson


inspired by the opening paragraph of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities


Common Core Standards stress the importance of using advanced texts with our students, but no where in the standards does it say you must share the entire text; excerpts work too! I love how this lesson uses just an excerpt and becomes a solid grammar lesson.

Inferring a Narrative Story-Board
a story board we draft, revise, and publish, then decorate our hallway with

inspired by David Guetta's music video for the song Titanium


Be creative and inspired with your sources for mentor texts. I was fascinated by the story being hinted at in this wonderful 4-minute music video. My students were too. This is one of my favorite lessons, and my students explore their inner worth and power as they create a piece of writing inspired by this video's message and story.

Four Complimentary Mentor Text Resources:
In addition to the resources and ideas found on this page, you can freely access the following collections that Dena and I helped to create:

Classification of Mentor Text materials -- a free download at Teachers Pay Teachers.
My Mentor Text Pinterest Board -- with links to free online lessons!
The Writing Lesson of the Month Ning -- create a profile to have a mentor text-inspired lesson or resource emailed to you every month.
WritingFix's Picture Book as Mentor Text Lesson Collection -- you'd be hard-pressed to find a better collection than this completely free one! Be sure to check out the website's other Mentor Text lesson collections too!

On This Page:
Mentor Texts on Mentor Texts:

Mentor Author, Mentor Texts
by Ralph Fletcher

Yes, clearly, I am a devoted Ralph Fletcher fan! When I saw this book was coming out, I can safely say I was one of the first to place my order. It's a thoughtful read that will inspire wonderful lesson ideas!


Nonfiction Mentor Texts
by Lynne Dorfman & Rose Capelli

My boss (thanks to Common Core State Standards Nevada has adopted) is forever asking, "What are you having them read that's non-fiction?" This collection of ideas is truly a blessing to have!


Writing with Mentors
by Allison Marchetti & Rebekah O'Dell

A bit pricey, I'll admit, but if you're looking for 9-12 grade ideas for mentor texts, this is the book that has them.


Mentor Texts
by Lynne Dorfman & Rose Capelli

Mentor Text lessons and ideas exclusively for K-6. Even though I am a secondary teacher, I still find ways to adapt this book's ideas for my writers.


My Mentor Text of the Year Program
At present, I am still permitted to choose my own professional development path as part of my annual evaluation. I always focus on areas of writing I know I can still become better with, and I always choose a published mentor text that helps me achieve my goal. Since 2008, I have been selecting a mentor text every year that inspires me to newly design or revise multiple writing lessons during that school year.

I select my mentor texts carefully, and though they are based on my current needs for improving writing, I invite other teachers to join me in exploring them. Eventually, I begin posting lessons based on them as part of our Writing Lesson of the Month Ning.

My Mentor Text of the Year for
2015-16


Written Anything Good Lately?
by Susan Allen & Janet Lindeman

How using this mentor text changed my teaching practice: My students' portfolios now contain so much more than formal papers. See this lesson for inspiration!

My Mentor Text of the Year for
2014-15


Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary
by Brenda Overturf

How using this mentor text changed my teaching practice: I gave my students more control of my regular vocabulary routine. See this information page for ideas!

My Mentor Text of the Year for
2013-14


The Story of My Thinking
by Gretchen Bernabei

How using this mentor text changed my teaching practice: This book helped me develop my "build your own graphic or advance organizer" expectation.

My Mentor Text of the Year for
2012-13


The Boy Who Loved Words
by Roni Schotter

How using this mentor text changed my teaching practice: Ah, 2012! The year I formally launched my vocabulary routine, and this book served as our go-to metaphor for collecting words.

My Mentor Text of the Year for
2011-12


Show; Don't Tell: Secrets of Writing
by Josephine Nobisso

How using this mentor text changed my teaching practice: Idea development was our trait of focus this year, and we kept coming back to this book's message. Here's an example lesson this book inspired.

My Mentor Text of the Year for
2010-11


A Writer's Notebook
by Ralph Fletcher

How using this mentor text changed my teaching practice: Ah, 2010! The year I formally launched my sacred writing and writer's notebook routines, and this book blessed my classroom with its great strategies.

My Mentor Text of the Year for
2009-10


How to Write Your Life Story
by Ralph Fletcher

How using this mentor text changed my teaching practice: We read this book alongside Fletcher's Marshfield Dreams, and my students learned every little thing that happens to them is worth writing about.

My Very First Mentor Text of the Year:
2008-09


Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street
by Roni Schotter

How using this mentor text changed my teaching practice: This wonderful picture book gave us four pieces of advice about writing and revising that we returned to all year long!

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