Writers need mentors Part II


In a third grade classroom two students modeled a peer conference. They used the Notice, Question, Polish model: Notice what the author did successfully; Ask a question (to clarify, to add information, etc.); Polish (word choice, sentence variety, etc.).

The writers had been drafting an opinion piece. “Hey, Little Ant” was the inspiration for one writer’s opinion: Don’t step on ants; it’s not right! She read her piece and shared it on the visualizer. Her partner noticed the hook and her use of strong opinion words. She asked, “What more can you tell us about how ants cooperate and share their food?” She suggested that the writer might try adding more description to the ant’s struggle to lug the food back to the colony to help the reader feel sorry for the ant.

An “aha” moment occurred when the other writers in the class offered their comments. The class had been working on sentence variety, but some writers continued with the Subject-Verb structure. One student pointed out how that the piece on the visualizer had “good sentence variety.” When the teacher asked him to expand on that comment, he pointed out that there was a good mix of long and short sentences and that two sentences began with prepositional phrases and one began with an adverb (it was actually a complex sentence which began with an adverbial clause, but that was a conversation for another day!).

A piece of student writing (and a draft at that) became a mentor text for sentence variety.


11 thoughts on “Writers need mentors Part II

  1. Diane! I found you…. I saw you were slicing, but had trouble finding you among all the slicers. So happy to connect through SOL. Love this example – we are finding that student writing is often the best mentor text. Since it looks like their writing – students seem to connect to it quickly and feel like, “I could do that.” It somehow changes their stance a bit. This is a great example of using student writing to mentor. Thanks


  2. I love your Notice, Question, Polish technique. It’s great to hear that 3rd grade students can put it into action! I use mentor texts in the classroom and I even use them for my own writing! It shows the writers must be readers!


  3. I really appreciate the “notice” step in your peer revision format. This fits nicely with what I ask students to do as we read–to notice how the author organizes his thoughts, to notice the language the author uses to convey his message, to notice the details the author chooses to include (and omit). I think I will borrow this noticing step for looking at a classmate’s writing.


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