(Arguably) The Greatest Free Writing Instruction Resource on the Internet

A Quick Note from Matt: Happy spring, everyone! I’ve got a short one for you today, as between a couple of very exciting writing projects (more on those really soon), the end of the quarter push, and a couple plagues descending on our house via my daughters’ day care, March hasn’t made much room for blogging. What today’s post lacks in length it makes up for in practicality, as the resource shared within it regularly saves me a lot of time. Thanks as always for reading, and I hope you enjoy!

I was talking to a regular reader of the blog yesterday and she reminded me about a topic I’ve meant to mention for sometime: Allison Marchetti, Rebekah O’Dell, and the work they have done concerning mentor texts. For those not familiar with the term mentor text, the basic idea behind them is that to grow as writers we need to write a lot and get direct instruction, but we also need to closely read both professional and student work on a regular basis in all of the genres we require students to write. Reading these “mentor” texts is essential because they teach our students lessons about form, audience, genre conventions, voice, style, and organization that can’t really be gotten through direct instruction.

I actually have a much larger post planned where I will share exactly how I use mentor texts and what some of my all-time favorites are, but for now, I simply want to share a mentor text resource that O’Dell and Marchetti created that has saved me untold hours. It is the called the Mentor Text Dropbox and it is on their wonderful blog Moving Writers. Here is a link to it. The dropbox is exactly what it sounds like; it is a massive public repository of curated and really strong mentor texts for every possible genre and secondary grade level. Here is what it looks like:

And here is an example of a category:

Arguably the coolest thing about the dropbox is that it is constantly being updated and expanded. I go to it all the time, and yet regardless of how often I open it, there seems to always be something new and topical.

I hope it saves you as much time as it saves me, and if you are interested in learning more about mentor texts, here is an article (from the dropbox!) by Katie Ray Wood that wonderfully captures the thinking behind them and their pedagogical uses.

Yours in teaching,

Matt

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