How to use Mentor Sentences in Middle School


Try this plan for using mentor sentences in middle school as models of grammar, good writing, and more!

Once upon a time, I convinced my team that mentor sentences are an amazing tool to teach grammar, writing conventions, and even review reading skills.   

My first exposure to mentor sentences was with using picture books but I knew I had to be creative and find grade-level texts to use.  I had trouble finding ones that were "just right" for the task and time frame we had to work with (bell work time) so I decided to make my own.

Here's how mentor sentences work in my middle school class:

I use them as bell-ringers and...

1. Each month, my students are given one new text.  

I wrote the texts to focus on themes such as perseverance or on the history behind holidays such as Earth Day.  I also had some fiction texts.

2.  Each week of the month, students study one sentence from the text as a model of good writing.

3.  Each day of the week students get one question to answer about the sentence of the week.

These questions would be about capitalization, punctuation, using commas, literary devices, and much more.

How much time does this take, you ask?  

Well, the very first day of the month takes the most time as I ask the students to read the text before I give them the sentence for the week.  But after that, students get into the routine and they can complete their question of the day in the time it takes me to take attendance. Then we go over answers in about 5 minutes (or less).  So it's quick and easy!  

What about assessment?

At the end of the week, I have been known to ask students to re-write the sentence of the week in the same style and using some of the same words but with various changes including new adverbs or adjectives or even taking one bigger sentence and making it two sentences.  At the end of the month, I have challenged my students to use their sentences to create a summary of the text for the month.

Ready to try them out?  Get this FREE sample:

Start off your middle school ELA class period with a quick and easy practice/review of key grammar and reading skills with the help of a model mentor sentence.

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