Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Upcoming Blog Series: Mentor Texts in the Digital Writing Workshop

Over the last few years, I have been doing a lot of thinking around the idea of Digital Mentor Texts. I believe strongly in Reading and Writing Workshops to move all students forward in literacy.  With the definition of literacy expanding, I believe that much of what we know of the writing process remains the same. The power of mentor texts in writing first hit me when I read Ralph Fletcher's classic book WHAT A WRITER NEEDS.  He gave us great pieces to learn from as writers and new ways to work with our student writers.  Another book that had a huge impact on my personal thinking about mentor texts in the writing workshop was STUDY DRIVEN by Katie Wood Ray.  In this important book, Katie reminds us that inquiry has to remain at the heart of writing workshop.  She says, "In an inquiry stance, teachers help children explore different alternatives for how to write something, and then let them do what writers really have to do and make decisions about how their pieces will go."  (p. 27)  Ralph Fletcher, Kelly Gallagher (WRITE LIKE THIS) , Aimee Buckner (NOTEBOOK KNOW-HOW), Lucy Calkins (THE ART OF TEACHING WRITING) Katie Wood Ray, Lester Laminack, Shelley Harwayne (LASTING IMPRESSIONS), Ann Marie Corgill (OF PRIMARY IMPORTANCE) and others have all given me so much to think about when it comes to the role of mentor texts in writing workshop.

As I've been playing around with digital writing in the library, I realize that the decisions our writers have to make are also expanding.  There are so many ways to write and create and so many decisions that writers make when creating pieces of digital writing.  There are several of us who have been informally talking about the idea of Mentor Texts in the Digital Writing Workshop and we thought we'd have a more focused online conversation around the topic--to try to synthesize our thinking.

Lots of us included our thinking in our sessions at NCTE 2011 but then followed up with conversations working through what the idea of mentor texts and inquiry-driven study mean for a digital writing workshop.

In the midst of one of our conversations, an idea formulated about focusing some writing around it.  So, during the week of January 8, we'll each be posting on our own blogs about the thinking we've been doing, the things we've learned from students, and our own writing.  We are hoping you'll join us by thinking along with us about this idea of mentor texts in the digital writing workshop. You can join in the conversation by reading our blogs, posting your own thinking to your blog, commenting, etc.  We thought this would be a fun way to have a larger conversation about ideas we are thinking about. We love the idea of pulling lots of voices together around one idea.

Participating in the series will be:

Bill Bass, Technology Integration Specialist in Missouri and author of the upcoming ISTE book on Film Festivals tentatively titled, "Authentic Learning Through a Digital Lens" will be blogging on his blog MR. BASS ONLINE.

Katie DiCesare, a primary teacher in Dublin who runs an incredible writing workshop will be blogging at her blog, CREATIVE LITERACY.


Kevin Hodgson, 6th grade teacher and author of TEACHING THE NEW WRITING will be blogging at his blog Kevin's Meandering Mind.

Tony Keefer, an amazing 4th grade teacher in Dublin, Ohio will be blogging at at ATYCHIPHOBIA.

And I'll be blogging here.

Each of us has committed to posting several times during the week of January 8 around the topic of Mentor Texts in the Digital Writing Workshop. I am hoping to revisit some of those staple professional books I mentioned above to reground myself in the role of mentor texts and what they mean for writers.
We hope you'll join us in thinking about this!


  1. Anonymous8:19 AM

    So looking forward to this Franki. It will be great to learn from you, Bill, Katie and Troy. Love the line "I realize that the decisions our writers have to make are also expanding." I think helping our students understand the thinking behind decision making will be a huge part of their success as composers of digital works.

  2. It is time we began this serious thinking, and also so exciting! Thank you for putting this together. I work with a number of teachers at my school and it will be a welcome addition to my sharing with them in 2012.

  3. Love this idea. Study Driven was a pivotal book for me. When I went to see Katie speak about that one I had never heard of the term "mentor texts" before. Gasp! I remember leaving that conference and driving the three hours home with my mind whirling. I don't have a few of these books, will have to look into them. And can't wait to see the series of posts on a Digital Workshop.

  4. This is exactly the kind of professional conversation I need. I'm teaching 2nd grade for the first time this year, and I want to get my students creating with technology. I'm looking forward to getting some new ideas!

  5. I will most definitely be tuning in to what you all have to say! This is such a great idea. Marking it on my calendar right now!!


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