Follow Sarah Speaks by Email

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mentor Text of the Week- A Cool Drink of Water

This week's text is...
A Cool Drink of Water by Barbara Kerley
You can click on the title above to purchase the mentor text from amazon.com
This text is a narrative nonfiction piece of text, most appropriate for students in the upper grades,
although it can be used in the primary grades as well.  

Possible Minilessons for Writing Workshop:

  • List structure
  • Use of font, capitals, italics to emphasize certain words/ideas.  
  • Use of ellipses to get reader ready for a list
  • ​Engaging photographs depicting the use of water all over the world
  • Vivid verbs start off each page
  • Specific adjectives/word choice
  • Repetition
  • Varied sentence lengths
  • Varied sentence beginnings
  • Content specific vocabulary introduced 
  • Conclusion that relates the topic to each reader and wraps up the text
  • Extra information about the topic ("A cool drink around the WORLD")
  • Maps
  • Clever title
  • ​Note from Scholastic at the back of the book about their effort to lessen environmental waste
  • Interesting quotes about water from various figures at various times in civilization
  • Letter at the back about water conservation from the President and C.E.O. of the National Georgraohic Society​

    Click here for a Teacher's Guide for this book

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mentor Text of the Week- What If You Had Animal Teeth by Sandra Markle

What If You Had Animal Teeth by Sandra Markle
You can click on the title above to purchase the mentor text from amazon.com
This text is a narrative nonfiction piece of text, most appropriate for grades 2-5.

Possible Minilessons for Writing Workshop:

  • Clever introduction
  • Close up photographs that let the reader really examine the subject
  • Interesting, shocking, and new facts presented to the reader
  • Repetition ("If you had..."
  • Analogies to the reader's own life helping them truly understand the information being presented 
  • Humorous illustrations that make the facts relatable to the reader
  • Illustrations of background reveal clever connections to the topic
  • Extra fact bubble on each page for additional information about the topic
  • Varied sentence lengths
  • Main idea and supporting details
  • List structure
  • Varied sentence beginnings
  • Varied sentence types (questions, statements, exclamations, etc.)
  • Content specific vocabulary introduced 
  • Conclusion that relates the topic to real life and wraps up the text
  • Extra information about the topic ("Where Do Teeth Come From?" and "Teeth Need Care")
  • Photo credits that show the validity of the photographs
  • Clever title

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mentor Text of the Week- Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino

Please feel free to check back each week as well as follow us on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/DEInstitute for updates.  Enjoy!

This text is a personal narrative piece of text, most appropriate for grades K-3.

Possible Minilessons for Writing Workshop:

  • Author's note reveals the inspiration for the idea (a perfect generating idea on "everys" in your life)
  • Two page spreads
  • Background details that allow the reader to get to know the characters and setting more fully
  • Repetitive beginnings "We..."
  • Patterns on clothing for extra detail in illustrations
  • Environmental print makes the scenes come alive (inspiration is from city in New Jersey)
  • ​Compound sentences
  • Commas in a series
  • Thoughtful and limited dialogue
  • Purposeful punctuation: em dashes, exclamation points
  • Small moment (entire event is probably 30 minutes long)
  • Movement through time is shown through events going on around characters
  • Facial expressions to show emotion
  • Variety of sentences
  • Illustrations tell more than what's on the page in text
  • Short amount of texts that makes for a perfect narrative






Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mentor Text of the Week- The Beetle Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta

In an attempt to get more minilessons into the hands of dedicated (but strapped for time) educators, I have dedicated a portion of my website/blog

to the Mentor Text of the Week (MTOW).  Each week, I will choose an accessible mentor texts and give you the following:

  • The tittle, author, and illustrator
  • The text type (as related to the Common Core) and genre
  • The grades to which it would fit met appropriately
  • Various minilessons that could be used at different stages of the writing process
Please feel free to check back each week as well as follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DEInstitute for updates.  Enjoy!



This week's text is...
The Beetle Alphabet Book 
by Jerry Pallotta, 
Illustrated by David Biedrzycki

This text is an informational/nonfiction piece of text, most appropriate for grades 2-5.




Possible Minilessons for Writing Workshop:

  • Clever dedication ("Thanks to John, Paul, George, Ringo…)
  • Titles of Beatles songs hidden on many beetle illustrations throughout the book                                                                                                                                        (Check out letter I, J, N just to name a few…)
  • ABC structure
  • Diagrams with labels
  • Introduction that speaks to the reader and excites them
  • Domain-specific words woven into the facts
  • ​Eye-popping, bold, close-up illustrations that hook the reader into the text and topic
  • Small topic, perfect for a selecting lesson on choosing topics that are interesting to a reader                                                                                                                   and also researchable
  • Analogies to help reader understand concepts/facts being presented
  • Added in thoughts/opinions of the author 
  • Two page spreads
  • Use of interesting and purposeful punctuation: exclamation points, question marks,                                                                                                             and commas in a series, 
  • ​Perspective in illustrations so the reader can see the world through the beetles' eyes
  • Varied sentence length, beginnings, and types of sentences (exclamatory, interrogative, declarative)
  • Voice/Humor/Talking to the reader that connects the facts on the page to everyday situations
  • Interesting, surprising, silly, and new facts about animals the reader may already know
  • Illustrations  that allow reader to truly comprehend the size of the beetles (actual sizes are shown in the shadow of each letter)