by Jennifer Laffin
Before you send your students off to write, why not take a few minutes to write a Mentor Post together? Writing in front of your students can yield huge benefits!
Students Need to See You Write
It’s hard to learn how to swim if your swim instructor never gets in the the water, isn’t it? The same is true for writing! If we want our students to really learn to write, they need to learn from someone who writes. Writing in front of your students by creating a Mentor Post will not only show them that you write, it will show them that even teachers sometimes struggle with the complicated act of writing and that it’s important to stick with it!
When you write with your students, you show them what writing is for. You show them the "why" of writing and how to negotiate the journey from the germ of an idea to the final copy.
Mentor Posts as Mentor Texts
Some student writers will need a little more direction to get going. By using your Mentor Post as a model, their writing journey can be a little less bumpy. Students can refer back to your Mentor Post throughout their writing process for inspiration and as an example of what good writing looks like. (Similar to how we often look at the picture on the box of a jigsaw puzzle as we are putting it together.) They can also use your writing moves as a jumping-off point for trying something new with their own writing. Do not underestimate the power of showing students good writing and talking about it as a class. Together, you can discuss word choice, effective dialogue, figurative language, powerful paragraphing and much more! All of this can be done while you are writing your Mentor Post.
Writing a Mentor Post shows your student writers what you expect in to see in their writing. You can use the Mentor Post to show how you incorporated the day’s mini-lesson, what grade-level conventions are expected to be present in their writing, and what a good word count looks like. When students know what you expect before they even begin writing, they are more likely to deliver it.
Regularly writing in front of your students and sharing your thinking about your writing is a best practice we all can benefit from! Mentor Posts are a great way to do this. Start a habit today of letting your students see you as a writer. It’s time to get in the pool!
Research and Resources:
Want to learn more about the benefits of writing with your students? Check out these resources:
“Becoming Your Own Expert -- Teachers as Writers” (The National Writing Project)
“To Teach Effective Writing, Model Effective Writing” (Edutopia)
“Should Educators Be Writers?” (Two Writing Teachers)
Newkirk, T., & Kittle, P. (2013). Children want to write: Donald Graves and the revolution in children's writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Connect and Grow:
The #TeachWrite chat is a monthly Twitter chat on the first Monday of each month at 7:30 EST. This chat is led by teachers who believe that a teacher of writing should be a writer. Jennifer and the chat leaders want to encourage teachers in their personal writing lives. The chat helps teachers build a better classroom for the writers they nurture.
About the Author:
|Jennifer Laffin is a Write About Rockstar and owner of Teach Write, LLC, a company dedicated to helping teachers teach writers and become writers themselves. She is also a Teacher Consultant with the National Writing Project, taught 4th and 5th grades for nine years, and is an avid blogger and writer. She loves to connect with other teachers and teacher-writers. You can find Jennifer at www.sweetwritinglife.blogspot.com and www.teachwrite.org. She also loves to share her learning on Twitter at @laffinteach.|