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5. Authors as Mentors
by Lucy Calkins and Amanda Hartman

A row of books is really a row of writing teachers. Lucy and Amanda lead us through a month of teaching children that they can learn to be better writers through studying the work of the authors they love. By studying three very short books by Angela Johnson, children learn to understand, and apply to their own writing, techniques they discover in the work of published authors.

  • PART ONE:
  • Crafting as in Angela Johnson's Books
  • PART TWO:
  • Working with a New Text Structure
  • PART THREE:
  • Finding Writing Mentors in All Authors
  • PART FOUR:
  • Preparing for Publication
    PART ONE: Crafting as in Angela Johnson's Books
    Session I: Discovering Small Moments, as Angela Might
    In this session, you'll help students notice that Angela Johnson finds tiny moments to write about, and you'll help them try to do that themselves, as they have in the past.
    View Session I
    Session II: Stretching Small Moments, as Angela Might
    In this session, you will point out what it looks and sounds like when Angela Johnson tells the whole story of a tiny moment, and then you will help the youngsters try to do the same with their own jotted notes by demonstrating the process for them.
    Session III: Finding Features of Angela's Writing: Ellipses
    Today is dedicated to coaching students to find and think about some of the obvious writing devices in Angela Johnson's stories.

    Session IV: Learning from Angela: Writing with Ellipses
    In this session, you will coach children to use a simple writing device in their own writing that they've noticed in Angela's: ellipses.
    Session V: Finding Features of Angela's Writing: Comeback Lines
    Today, using the same chart as before and going back to the same book, you'll coach children to notice deeper, more embedded traits of Angela's writing, in this case, "comeback lines."
    Session VI: Learning from Angela: Writing Comeback Lines
    Today you'll demonstrate trying to use a trait in your own writing that students have discovered in an author's writing, so that students can do the same.
    Session VII: Finding Features of Angela's Writing, then Learning from Them: Using Research Details
    Today you will ask the children to revise a piece of writing by re-examining an artifact they have written about and adding research details to their writing as Angela seems to have done in her writing.
    Session VIII: Studying One Text for Many Lessons
    In this session, you'll support children in filling out, on their own, a chart of observations about Angela's writing. Then you'll nudge the children to start applying what they have learned to their own writing.
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    PART TWO: Working with a New Text Structure
    Session IX: Noticing a New Text Structure: A Many Moments Story
    In this session, you will read the story and let children study it's new structure. You will start them thinking about how to make a story structured like this one.
    Session X: Trying a New Text Structure: Writing a Many Moments Story
    Today, with a discussion and a graphic organizer, you'll show children how different small moments are all connected in books like Do Like Kyla and Joshua of the Sea. You'll suggest they choose a unifying thread or a comeback line for their own writing.
    Session XI: Trying a New Text Structure: Writing a Many Moments Story with Details
    Today you'll show how one child in the class has included details in his many moments story, so that everyone can rely on his example as each has on Angela's.
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    PART THREE: Finding Writing Mentors in All Authors
    Session XII: Studying New Authors as Mentors
    Today, you will ask children to turn to a new author and begin to notice and think about characteristics of that book in the same way that they have looked at Angela's books.
    Session XIII: Choosing Mentors for Particular Reasons
    In this session, you'll demonstrate for kids what a haphazard addition of a new kind of writing can look like, and then you'll ask them to join you in adding a meaningful, revised addition to your writing the way author has.
    Session XIV: Letting Writing Purposes Drive Mentor Choices
    Today you'll demonstrate rereading your own writing to see what it is you need to do better, and then turning to authors who might give you ideas for how to do it. You'll ask children to help you do this and then to begin the same for their own writing.
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    PART FOUR: Preparing for Publication
    Session XV: Editing for Publication
    In this session, you will teach children how to make and use an editing checklist as a guide for editing.
    Session XVI: Writing About-the-Author Blurbs
    Today you will point out that published books often contain About-the-Author blurbs, and show children that they, too, need to include About-the-Author blurbs on their publications.
    Session XVII: An Author Celebration: Talking and Reading to an Audience
    In this celebration, your guests will turn and talk about what they notice after a quick read of Angela Johnson's book, and then you will dazzle them by having a few selected children speak, each pointing out something they notice in the text. Then your children can read their own writing to show how they have used their observations.
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