Writer’s Tea Preparation – Ideas for Mentor/Model Texts

Here are some ideas for creative writing in preparation for the Writer’s Tea and in the name of having a little fun (click for links to the works mentioned):

* Show some spoken word poetry and invite students to write their own.  We can also use many of the tips we got from Phil Kaye & Sarah Kay in March.  Bonnie did this and her kids wrote some great stuff!  Like Bonnie’s students, yours could even use the model of “When Love Arrives” to compose a spoken word piece together (as Phil & Sarah did).   Shane Koyczan, Phil Kaye, Sarah Kay, and Daniel Beatty (especially “Knock Knock”) are among my favorite poets . . . and all available on youtube.  There was also a list on the back of our materials from Phil & Sarah.

* Complete an author study of one author (i.e. Sandra Cisneros) & model.  Include 2-3 works and identify the moves the writer makes consistently.  Then, have students choose one to model.  I’ve done this with Cisneros’s “Eleven,” “My Name,” and “Salvador Late or Early – Reading.”

Have students create a series of model poems from mentor texts.  One year, Dottie Deich did this with great success with Allen Ginsberg’s “Supermarket in California” (link includes an audio reading by Ginsberg)  Another fun idea to steal, is Wallace Stevens’s Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird . . . thirteen ways of looking at anything (each way in a small stanza).   I love the possibilities here!  Another good model poem/mentor text for American Literature would be Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” and Langston Hughes’s “I, too, Sing America.”  Students could write a modern version using one of the two titles.  Here’s a document-link to both: I hear America Singing 1.

* Invite students to write a short expository piece based off of a great mentor text.  Mentor texts could include Leonard Pitts (I’m a big fan of “Cruel As It Is“) or any of the texts from the This I Believe series (for even more, check out this link – click the “explore” tab).  You can engage in an annotation & discussion of the structure/language /”moves” of the piece and then invite students to use writing workshop to write their own.

* Use what’s already in the Writer’s Notebook as fodder for something new.  Refine narratives written earlier in the year or have students take an idea started and develop a new work/poem/story etc . . . based on it.

* Skim through the National Poetry Month postings to see if any post, poem, or idea moves you.  Check back each day for a new addition.

Please consider leaving ideas in the comments or emailing/sharing them with other teachers.  We have our best resources among us!

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