Using Mentor Texts in a Second Grade Classroom

Oh! My!  Teaching grammar and writing can be difficult, hard to understand, boring, and well let's face it NOT FUN!  
This year, I decided to change up how I teach grammar.  I needed a new way to keep my sanity, to make it fun, and let the kiddos take ownership of their writing.  After doing research and reading blogs, I decided I was going to try Mentor Sentences.  
Of course, I had to come up with mentor sentences and activities for the books I enjoy and like to read to my class.  These books also go along with our weekly reading and grammar skill.  Everything Language Arts related is integrated in some say.  This makes it more meaningful for the students.  So, I started creating my Mentor Sentence Packets.
Below, I will show you how I incorporate Mentor Sentences in my classroom.  How my students use them, and how we transfer our sentence structure into our writing activities.

1.  I begin each week by writing the mentor sentence on chart paper.  I generally use the typed version that can be found in my Mentor Sentence Products.  I pass out smaller versions of the typed sentences for the students to glue into their interactive writing/grammar notebooks.  
2.  When it is time for grammar, the students bring their mentor sentence (in notebook) to carpet.  I read the book to the students.  As you can see, the above mentor sentence is from Dex, The Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Buehner.  I begin by reading the book to the kids.  When I am finished, we begin talking about the mentor sentence.  I will go back to the spot in the book that contains the mentor sentence.  I will read the sentence again, we will read the sentence together, and then my students will read the sentence.  I will ask the students to tell me what they notice about the sentence (grammar/writing wise).  This is really the gist of day 1.  Of course, each week I think to myself "Are they going to notice anything about the sentence?"  Each week, they surprise me.  Usually they notice all that I have picked out of the sentence and more!!!  It is truly amazing.  We make a list of their notices on the chart paper under the sentence.
3.  I pass out our daily grammar, and we complete Monday together.  The students put their daily grammar paper in their desk folder for the next day.  They will keep it here until the end of the week.


1.  The students will complete Tuesday's daily grammar as part of their morning work (They will complete each day's daily grammar for morning work for the rest of the week).  When it is time for grammar, they will bring this and their grammar notebook to the carpet.
2.  On Tuesday, the mentor sentence is all about labeling the sentence (parts of speech).  Generally, we only label the parts of speech that we already know and are currently working on.  I will use highlighters and highlighter tape to label parts of the sentence.  I keep an anchor chart of the parts of speech we know up in the room for an easy visual.  The students help label by labeling the sentence in their notebook.

3.  After labeling the sentence, we go over the daily grammar.


  1.  (Students complete step 1 from Tuesday).  On Wednesday, the mentor sentence is all about creating a like sentence together (or imitating the mentor sentence).  We will create a sentence TOGETHER that is similar to the mentor sentence making sure we are focusing on the grammar skills for the week.  We also try to incorporate all of the other parts of speech (we know) into our imitated sentence.  
As you can see, these are the sentence we came up with together to match or mimic the mentor sentence.  This activity will lead into Thursday's mentor sentence activity.


1.  (Students do daily grammar before coming to the carpet area.)  On Thursday, we review the sentences we made from the day before.  Next, the students create their own imitation sentence in their notebook.  I still get nervous when they have to create their own sentences.  I always wonder if they are going to do it right.  But yet again, they never cease to amaze me.  After a few minutes of creating their own sentences, it is share time.  Of course, some kiddos miss the mark.  This is when I take time to teach and work with them during small group instruction on our grammar skills (this is usually why they miss the mark).  We also help them fix the sentences together, so their sentences contain the grammar skills I am looking for.  I write the kiddos sentences on the chart paper.
Here are a few of the sentences my kiddos came up with.  I also let them write their sentences on sentence strips and they can take them home.

2.  We review our mentor sentence and talk about the things we should know (focusing on the grammar skill(s) for the week).


1.  On Friday, we take our mentor sentence assessment.  This is where my students have a chance to prove to me what they know.  We will review the skills in more mentor sentences throughout the year.  This will not be the only time they will see the skills we work on.

Q and A:

1.  How do I select my mentor texts?  Honestly, the books are the books I am using during my reading instruction.  I already have the books picked out for this.  I just transfer this over to grammar to integrate all parts of my language arts around a mentor text.

2.  How do I choose my mentor sentences?  I select my mentor sentences based on what I want to teach in grammar that week or based on something that stands out in the text.  I try and follow a scope and sequence for second grade and of course, the standards.  I make sure by the end of the year all grammar standards have been covered.

3.  How can I teach the lessons in 4 days?  If you don't have 5 days to teach a mentor sentence, you can combine Wednesday and Thursday into one day.  If we have a two hour delay or something comes up during my grammar time, I will do this.

4.  How do my students use these lessons during writing time?  We generally write about our reading (mentor text) each week.  I expect the students to use what we are learning about in grammar in their writing.  For example if we are learning about commas in a series, I expect them to use this skill at least one time in their writing.

5.  What have I noticed after doing mentor sentences?  I have notices that my students are noticing these skills and concepts in text and others' writing.  Before, they would never notice these concepts.  But now, they are even excited when they find a skill we have covered during grammar.  It is like they are detectives.  They love it and I LOVE IT!  This has been one of the best parts of doing the mentor sentence daily routine for grammar.  The students are loving grammar and using it in their writing

You can check out my mentor sentence lessons by clicking on any picture above or clicking here

Have a great week! God Bless!

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