Plan for Mentor Text Warm-Ups

Writing Like Authors…And Also Not Feeling Like a Fool Teaching Grammar


After reading Linda Reif’s The Quickwrite Handbook: 100 Mentor Texts to Jumpstart Your Students’ Thinking and Writing this summer, I knew I wanted to incorporate more mentor text work into my classroom this year. This was my ONE thing that I wanted to add that would change up a major system as to how I taught students writing. I also read other texts over the summer that supporting this mindset. It was clear to me: I want my students to call themselves authors.


Mentor Text Teacher Books

Teacher Texts:

  • The Quickwrite Handbook: 100 Mentor Texts to Jumpstart Your Students' Thinking and Writing by Linda Reif (2018)

  • The Write Thing: Kwame Alexander Engages Students in Writing Workshop (And You Can Too!) by Kwame Alexander (2018)

  • 180 DAYS: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle (2018)

  • In the Best Interest of Students: Staying True to What Works in the ELA Classroom by Kelly Gallagher (2015)

  • Writing with Mentors: How to Reach Every Writer in the Room Using Current, Engaging Mentor Texts by Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell (2015)

  • Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts by Kelly Gallagher (2011)

The other texts on my desk are from this summer too. They are YA books that I wanted to read to start finding those sentences, paragraphs, and pages that I can use for mentor texts.

The Setup

First, I moved reading workshop to the last part of class. Then, I setup my warm-ups so they weren’t broken down by a daily theme, but instead used the same theme of one piece of mentor text each week. I will provide follow insights on each mentor text chosen and the entire guide by the end of the year. For the first week, I chose Ghost by Jason Reynolds. Each day is designed to have a focus. I was inspired by the literacy coach’s blog, Buzzing with Mrs. B.

Mondays: Notice the writing.

Tuesdays: Name the writing.

Wednesdays: Write like the author.

Note: I go to library on Thursday and on Friday, we Friday Free Write. Therefore, you only see a 3-day sequence for warm-ups for my given week. You could stretch this out to include more teacher modeling or more individual student practice and sharing if needed. Here is the past week broken down by the day and the step.



Students are still establishing routines. I review expectations and have students get into the habit of grabbing materials before class.


Book Talk

On Mondays, I show students where I got the mentor sentence. I got this week’s sentence from Ghost by Jason Reynolds. I had 35 copies of Ghost, and by the end of the day I had only 2 left.

This day also included HOW we notice writing as an anchor chart that will stay up in my class. My goal is to have this anchor chart break down noticings by the six-traits of writing.



Today is name it day! This is one of the first times that teaching grammar felt authentic. I played a subject-predicate Flocabulary video, and then we labeled the sentence. We then created a class sentence together with the same setup as Reynolds’ sentence and labeled that sentence together.


My Board

For students absent, I keep a running list of the work we do with the mentor sentence every day. My board is pictured here.


Write like an author day! I repeated the phrase, “Get ready to write like Jason” in order to get them excited about imitating authors’ work.


Teacher Models

I first showed my two examples. I also provided a sentence frame for those getting ready to practice.


Author Share

Students got up and shared with each other. They also identified and reinforced the grammar component of this week. When we all went back to seats, we labeled our sentences together.

I then asked students to share out their “Write Like Jason” sentences.

Students Examples

Also, I wanted to point out that student work is only on a single page of a notebook. This makes grading much easier and it goes much faster for me.

Grammar Plan for the Year

Marking Period 1: First Six Weeks

Implementation: One sentence only

Week 2: Simple sentences, subjects/predicates (NOUNS, VERBS, ADJECTIVES, PRONOUNS)

Week 3: NWEA Testing




Marking Period 2: Second Six Weeks

Implementation: Two to three sentences -start moving to gluing mentors

Week 1: Compound sentences (NOUNS, VERBS, ADJECTIVES, PRONOUNS)

Week 2: Past tense

Week 3: Present tense

Week 4: Future tense

Week 5: Inserting adjectives

Week 6: Capitalizing and formatting titles

Marking Period 3: Third Six Weeks

Implementation: Two to three sentences-glue mentors

Week 1:Pronouns

Week 2:FANBOYS Conjunctions Week 1

Week 3:FANBOYS Conjunctions Week 2

Week 4:Quotation Marks

Week 5:Inserting Adverbs

Week 6:A vs. An

Marking Period 4: Fourth Six Weeks

Implementation: Quickwrites

Week 1:Its vs. It’s

Week 2:There, Their, They’re

Week 3:I and Me

Week 4:Because vs. Cause

Week 5:Than vs. Then

Week 6:Affect vs. Effect

Marking Period 5: Fifth Six Weeks

Implementation: Quickwrites

Week 1:Commas with an introductory clause

Week 2:Commas in a series

Week 3:Commas in dates

Week 4: THAMOS Conjunctions Week 1

Week 5: THAMOS Conjunctions Week 2

Week 6: SWABIS Conjunctions Week 1

Marking Period 6: Last Six Weeks

Implementation: Quickwrites

Week 1: SWABIS Conjunctions Week 2

Week 2:Complex Sentences

Week 3: Semicolons

Week 4:

Week 5:

Week 6:

I left Marking Period 6 so open because inevitably there will be weeks that get away from us. Testing will happen. Snow days will happen. This list is merely a loose plan of where I hope to head by June 2019.

Writing Mindset Reflection: How do you incorporate mentor texts into the daily classroom experience? Where do you find your mentor texts?

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