Here’s the thing: Finding engaging mentor texts, whether to integrate current events into lesson plans or use them to teach reading and writing skills, requires us to be readers of the world.
“I don’t have time,” I hear some thinking. Yeah, well, finding the time to read ourselves is the best professional development available.
Want to engage students more in independent reading? Read a wide variety of engaging and inclusive YA literature. Want to shake up literature studies? Read more diverse and award-winning literature. Want to bring real world events into the classroom for some critical discussion? Read a whole bunch of news.
There’s no secret to finding mentors that will work. We just have to do the work to find them.
We can rely on others to help. Kelly Gallagher posts the articles of the week he uses with his students — a good resource. Moving Writers has a mentor text dropbox — also good. However, what works for some students may not work for others. We know this.
We also know our students. We know the instructional goals we have for them, and we know what they need from us in terms of interest and ability (at least we should.)
So — read more. Read with a lens that will best meet your needs and the needs of your students. Sometimes we find treasure.
For me treasured mentors, particularly for informational texts — because they often get a bad rep — are those that are not boring. (In my experience, most students think info texts are boring.) Voice, format, and style = engaging real world informational writing.
I’m sure there’s more out there, but here’s three sources I read regularly. Sometimes I pull long excerpts, sometimes paragraphs, sometimes sentences to use as mentors.
The Hustle. “Your smart, good looking friend that sends you an email each morning with all the tech and business news you need to know for the day.” You can sign up for the newsletter here. Here’s a sampling of a great piece with imbedded graphs and data: How teenage hackers became tech’s go-to bounty hunters. This is a mentor I would love to use with high school classes.
The Skimm. (I’ve shared this before.) “Making it easier for you to live smarter.” Sign up for the newsletter here. The women who started this site are all about promoting and advocating for women. I like that. Their podcast is interesting, too.
Robinhood Snacks. “Your daily dose of financial news.” I’ve been teaching myself about investing for the past couple of years, so this one just made sense to me — the newbie-tentative investor. What I like is how the writers make the information so accessible — and they post a “Snack fact of the day,” which will often work as an interesting quickwrite prompt. Sign up for the newsletter here.
What about you? Do you have favorite resources to stay in the loop of the news or to find treasured mentors for informational reading and writing? Please share in the comments.
Amy Rasmussen spends a little too much time reading daily newsletters and checking her most recent stock purchases. Her favorite investing apps: Robinhood, Stash, and Acorns. Really, if she can do it, you can, too. Amy lives, writes, and loves her family in North Texas. Follow her @amyrass