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.

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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.


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

10 Mentor Texts for Young (and Older!) Authors

by NJCTE board member Oona Abrams (originally posted on her blog, ELA in Permanent Beta)

OA 1

Picture books are such an enjoyable avenue for teaching fiction and nonfiction writing. After attending Pernille Ripp’s session on the power of picture books for all grade levels at #NerdCampMI, I realized that as a high school teacher, I, too, can use picture books meaningfully to teach my students. Tone and irony are tough to teach in isolation, but if we want our students to write clever and original stories, they’ll need to appreciate and practice how these skills are executed. Below is a list of picture books that my kids enjoyed thoroughly this year, and that I believe could be used to coach writers and use as examples. Happy reading and writing!

OA 2 I Wanna Iguana by Karen Orloff. Great for teaching: argument, letter writing, point of view.





OA 3Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker. Great for teaching: point of view, irony, tone.





OA 4Where Are My Books? by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Great for teaching: story mountain, irony, foreshadowing.





OA 5Snapsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!) by Julie Falatko. Great for teaching: point of view, tone.






OA 6


Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett. Great for teaching: writing process, revision, point of view, irony.





OA 7Dylan the Villain by K.G. Campbell. Great for teaching: point of view, suspension of disbelief, irony.





OA 8Long Shot: Never Too Small to Dream Big by Chris Paul. Great for teaching: process analysis, point of view.






OA 9Manners Are Not for Monkeys! by Heather Tekavec. Great for teaching: irony, point of view, suspension of disbelief.




OA 11How to Clean Your Room in 10 Easy Steps by Jennifer LaRue Huget. Great for teaching: process analysis, irony, point of view.




OA 12


Counting Lions: Portraits from the Wild by Katie Cotton. Great for teaching: repetition, description, research.




New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

10 Mentor Texts for Young (and Older!) Authors