Tech Tuesdays: The Hunt for the Perfect Mentor Text — Using Mentor Text Database

by Kathryn Nieves

Don’t forget to join in on Twitter with your technology questions Wednesday 8/22 at 8:00 p.m. EDT. Follow #NJCTEtech to join the discussion, and in the meantime, send us your questions! You can post them as a comment below.

It’s always a hunt to find the “just right” mentor text to fit your lesson. It has to be attainable for your students with just the right amount of difficulty to give them a challenge. It should fit into the lesson you are trying to teach and be appropriate to the age level of the students. Mentor Text Database is a website that offers an alternative to endless searching. It is created, and updated, in order to provide writers with inspiration for their own work. This website is extremely easy to integrate into the ELA classroom.

Mentor Text Database is a website, so it is accessible across devices and web browsers. Immediately users are met with a search bar to look for key words and ideas or a genre dropdown menu, where users can choose the exact type of writing they prefer. There are thirty genre or purpose options to view.

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Further down the homepage is a chronological list of the mentor texts that were added, beginning with the most recent. The genre can be seen at the top alongside the title. In the right sidebar is a “craft moves” word cloud. It is in alphabetical order, but users can see what craft moves are most common across all mentor texts.

Mentor Text Database 1

When you select a particular genre or craft move, the database shows a list of related pieces of writing, with the most recent at the top. Users get a preview of the piece and can click on the title to read the entire mentor text. The original author, publication date, and place of publication are included at the top for reference.

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Teachers could look through and share these mentor texts with their students. The database provides four uses for the text on the website, including examining the impact of text structure, incorporation of ideas and details, sentence structure and variety, and word choice and tone.

While it may seem like a small technology tool, Mentor Text Database is a resource that teachers can use to find new texts to inspire their students. The ability to filter searches by specific criteria, such as figurative language or text evidence, is helpful for finding appropriate texts for students based on the lesson itself. Before you spend all your time scouring the internet for interesting texts to match your lesson needs, consider searching through Mentor Text Database first.


Don’t forget to register for the NJCTE 2018 Fall Conference: Approaches to Writing, K-12! Featuring keynote speaker NCTE President Jocelyn Chadwick, the conference will take place September 29 at Kenneth R. Olson Middle School in Tabernacle, NJ. Register today!

Tech Tuesdays: The Hunt for the Perfect Mentor Text — Using Mentor Text Database

One thought on “Tech Tuesdays: The Hunt for the Perfect Mentor Text — Using Mentor Text Database

  1. Teachers whose students’ essays are consistently recognized in the NJCTE Writing Contest tell us that they use mentor texts. The NJCTE prompt usually offers a model, but having this easily accessible site is a great boon to success.

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