Mentor Text Activity for Teaching Grammar

Mentor Text Activity for Teaching Grammar
1. Find a sentence from an authentic source that incorporates a grammar construction you would
like your students to learn about, use, and/or use correctly. Draw your sentence from a source
with which all of your students would be familiar or provide them with the opportunity to read the
source material. (Note: Articles are good in this regard because an entire class can become familiar
with an article in a short period of time. Books or stories that the class is reading together are also
good sources for mentor sentences.)
2. Once the class is familiar with the context, present the mentor sentence.
3. Ask students to make observations about its construction. There may be several grammar
aspects to the sentence worthy of examination. (Note: You can return to the same sentence at
another time to examine another grammar aspect. The advantage of this practice is that students
are already familiar with the source material.) Guide their attention to the aspect you wish to focus
on at the moment.
4. Ask students what effect is created by the construction, what information is provided by the
construction, how the construction functions to assist a reader’s understanding, etc.
5. Have students rewrite the sentence using a different arrangement, construction or format.
Compare the results with one another and with the mentor sentence. Consider advantages and
disadvantages of all versions. Consider why the writer may have chosen the construction in the
source material.
6. Send students to materials they are reading in class to find examples of the construction in other
contexts. They could record their examples in their Writer’s Notebook and share them with each
other or a partner.
7. Have students imitate the mentor sentence in sentences of their own, perhaps in their Writer’s
Notebook. Note any features of the construction such as appropriate punctuation, capitalization,
8. Once students have thoroughly examined the construction and manipulated the mentor sentence,
they are better prepared for introduction of technical terminology and/or any rules that apply to
the construction.
9. Invite students to create informative posters, sentence strips, etc. for constructions they are likely
to use in their own writing and post them in the classroom for reference.
10. Draw students’ attention to examples of construction over the next several class meetings as it
occurs in their reading and writing.
11. Consider returning to the construction at a later time using a different mentor sentence to review
and reinforce the construction.
Teaching Grammar One Sentence at a Time – Patti Slagle, 2012