Literacy Lenses

Focusing on The Literacy Work that Matters

Micro Mentor Texts: Using Short Passages From Great Books to Teach Writer’s Craft

By Brent Gilson

For a record of this chat, please check out the Wakelet archive here

Last week the #G2Great community had the absolute pleasure of having Penny Kittle join us to share her new book Micro Mentor Texts. To say folks were excited would be an understatement. On a personal note, Penny has been a mentor of mine, and as a past Book Love Grant winner, I always look forward to the opportunity to visit with her virtually.

Today I sat with my students as we looked at a passage from King and the Dragonflies, an example from the early pages of Penny’s book focused on how authors craft settings with the use of sensory details.

As an early teacher, I was introduced to the importance of sensory details in writing and have always focused on it with my students. We use some of the early pages of Nightmares: The Lost Lullaby.

The lesson has always been more powerful with the example in my hand as I read, pause, think aloud, read, and question. The scene comes alive with the beautifully creepy crafting of a swampy setting; students left hanging as the mystery noise is waiting to be revealed. I have always focused on just the use of sensory detail. The conversations were energetic but essentially just an exercise in naming— outside of appreciating craft.

With Micro Mentor Texts, Penny provides a nudge, a blueprint for teachers to begin a more purposeful journey in exploring craft with our students. Using the example Kacen Callender supplies, readers can explore the use of sensory details, experimentation in sentence formation, figurative language, and voice, and how all of these elements interact to provide the reader with a new experience. Today in Room 157, student discussion was rich as we worked through this example. Noting simple things that authors do to elevate a text, the wheels started turning as they began to plan their own writing. This book will certainly enhance my teaching; it will provide little sparks of text that will light fires of wonder as students ask to read the rest as they did today, “dying to find out what happens next” books do that for our students. They provide us with endless opportunities to explore new worlds, and Mirco Mentor Texts, with Penny’s thoughtful guidance, will help teachers guide students to explore in new ways.

As for the chat, it was a lively one, with book suggestions being shared.

A fantastic collection of titles was shared, and TBR lists grew as teachers explored how one might determine what makes an excellent micro mentor text.

The purposeful way in which we decide on the texts is crucial to the success of this practice. The purposeful way teachers plan gets a new layer but one that ultimately provides even more support to our growing writers. What is the saying… There’s a book for that.

As the chat continued to buzz, the topic of balance came up. Much like we see discussion on reading instruction, we also must ask ourselves how much of the study of a text is the “drone view” vs the Micro mentor text level. Penny provides great guidance.

The chat moved to the close as teachers shared different micro mentor texts our students may encounter in the “wild” outside our classrooms. Podcasts, Instagram, and TikTok, were all suggestions. I was delighted to see Penny suggest obituaries, as a past student preparing to graduate spent a Project-Based writing round exploring that form of writing a few years ago. Those same students are now wondering how to write their “Last Will and Testament” for their yearbooks. Perhaps tomorrow we will dig some old ones out and study.

As I mentioned earlier, Micro Mentor Texts will provide students and teachers with new and engaging ways to explore writer’s craft. It will spark interest in more books and serve as a foundational piece to a growing reading community.

This is a great thing!

#G2great is grateful to Penny for joining us for the chat, sharing her work, and being such an incredible example of book love. As many of you know, The Book Love Foundation works to support classroom libraries and awards grants to teachers every year. Check them out. If you have not yet done so, order a copy of Micro Mentor Texts. It is immediately helpful in the classroom. Signed the teacher of room 157.

One thought on “Micro Mentor Texts: Using Short Passages From Great Books to Teach Writer’s Craft”

Comments are closed.