Literacy 7-12

Systems Change

Mentor Texts


By observing, rereading, and closely analyzing published writing, students see examples and learn the strategies of good writing that they can integrate into their own Composition. Exposing students to mentor texts that are written by professional writers from their own cultural and social backgrounds can help mitigate Stereotype Threat, and reading stories situated in similar experiences helps them develop their own aspirations to write from their cultural or personal experiences.

Use It in the Classroom

Starting at 3:06, watch how these eleventh grade teachers use a mentor text to develop students' abilities to select the most significant details in a text. As students reread their text to find evidence and quotations, they identify concrete techniques that they can try in their own writing, developing their Disciplinary Literacy. Through these discussions and rereads, students develop their own voice and confidence by seeing how the authors create their own voice.

  • Teachers can use mentor texts to highlight important aspects of writing for different content areas, such as structure, Vocabulary, and Syntax, and also help students make connections to what the author is saying. Mentor texts should be read multiple times and with proper scaffolds to challenge students to read with different purposes. Teachers should specifically name the techniques, like organization, imagery, or evidence to support their claims, that they want the students to imitate. Using digital texts with annotation capabilities, in particular, and modeling a critical lens when reading mentor texts can help students gain Critical Literacy skills.
  • Design It into Your Product

  • Developers can create libraries of multimodal books, stories, poems, essays, and other texts or allow teachers to compile their own collections of mentor texts. Providing options for adding questions and annotating for students can make deconstructing these texts more manageable and relevant for all students.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy