Mentor Sentences in Middle School

Mentor Sentences are not just for Elementary students!  Find out how I use them with grade-level texts in my Middle School classroom! #grammar #notebook

Have you ever taken a look at Mentor Sentences and wondered if they would work in Middle School?

I remember finding out about them from a video on YouTube and trying them out with my special needs English class.  The idea was to read a picture book and then pull out a model sentence.  Each day students would do something specific with that sentence in terms of grammar or writing conventions.  One day might be to notice the adjectives for example.  At the end of the week, the challenge was to re-write the sentence with new adjectives.  The activities were short, "do-able" activities that left my students feeling successful.  

So then I thought, how could I take this concept up a notch to begin to expose my students to longer, grade-level texts?  

Soon, I was looking for nonfiction texts since most of our classwork was fiction.  I longed to find texts that celebrated the season but still kept us learning.  This way we could stay focused on those key concepts, yet still have some fun.  The trouble was, I was struggling to find the "right" texts.  So I wrote my own.

What I did was create longer nonfiction texts and pull out a different sentence for each week of the month.  Then each day, I would ask a different question about things we had been learning.  Questions like:
"What is the complete subject and complete predicate of the sentence?"
"What is being compared in this sentence?"
"What do you notice about the sentence's punctuation?"
"What is the tone of the sentence?"

They were perfect for bell work!

On Fridays, I put together a little quiz of all the items we had reviewed that week.  For some students, these weekly quizzes were the first time they had scored well on an assessment for quite some time.

The students actually began to not only learn about various grammar concepts and writing conventions, but they were learning about topics such as perseverance, the history of the Poinsettia and more!  It was fun to hear them talk about these topics with interest.

In this way, mentor sentences were much more than just good models, they were causing my students to learn more about the topic as well as various grammar and writing concepts.  

Want to try them with your own class?  I have one set for each month of the school year, but here's my student's favorites about Walt Disney and perseverance and Poe's love poem "Annabel Lee":

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