Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Improve Student Writing With Mentor Text Journals

If you are looking for a way to help students take their writing to the next level, consider using mentor text journals.

What is a mentor text journal? It is a journal that students keep to record examples of creative word and language use. My students really enjoy keeping this type of journal. How does it work?

Each student gets a blank journal.  A notebook can also be used.  The top of the journal is labeled.  Headings include things such as:  vivid verbs, metaphors and similes, characterization, etc.  As a student reads books and magazines, they record words or sentence structures that they like.  When students create their own narrative stories or informative essays, they insert some of the words from their journals in their own writing. Students eventually move on from emulating the techniques of professional writers to thinking of their own ways to write creatively.

Mentor text journals are a great tool to use when interpreting text.  During this lesson, we reviewed figurative language.  After learning what similes, metaphors, hyperboles, etc. are, we evaluated how authors use language to convey ideas.

This also works well for learning about characterization.  As students read, they can record how authors let a reader know about characters.  This could include indirect characterization techniques such as through a character's actions, dialogue, etc.

With mentor text journals, students have a reference book at their fingertips that they can use to improve their own writing.  It is an effective tool and a great way to get students to pay close attention to what they read.

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