The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing

The Writing Thief Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing It s been said that good writers borrow while great writers steal Writing thieves read widely dive deeply into texts and steal bits and pieces from great texts as models for their own writing Ruth C

  • Title: The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing
  • Author: Ruth Culham
  • ISBN: 9780872070998
  • Page: 299
  • Format: Hardcover
  • It s been said that good writers borrow while great writers steal Writing thieves read widely, dive deeply into texts, and steal bits and pieces from great texts as models for their own writing Ruth Culham admits to being a writing thief and she wants you and your students to become writing thieves, too A major part of becoming a writing thief is finding the right mentoIt s been said that good writers borrow while great writers steal Writing thieves read widely, dive deeply into texts, and steal bits and pieces from great texts as models for their own writing Ruth Culham admits to being a writing thief and she wants you and your students to become writing thieves, too A major part of becoming a writing thief is finding the right mentor texts to share with students Within this book, discover than 90 excellent mentor texts, along with straight forward activities that incorporate the traits of writing across informational, narrative, and argument modes Chapters also include brief essays from beloved writing thieves such as Lester Laminack, David L Harrison, Lisa Yee, Nicola Davies, Ralph Fletcher, Toni Buzzeo, Lola Schaefer, and Kate Messner, detailing the reading that has influenced their own writing Ruth s beloved easy going style and friendly tone make this a book you ll turn to again and again as you guide your students to reach their full potential as deep, thoughtful readers and great writers There s a writing thief in each of us when we learn how to read with a writer s eye

    One thought on “The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing”

    1. “Learning how to be a writing thief and spot the texts that show students a particular writing skill in action is an effective instructional strategy that supports deep reading, which in turn leads to deep writing.” (p. 30) Ruth Culham the author of, The Writing Thief, eloquently describes how to use rich mentor texts when teaching the craft of writing. In the opening of the book she enlightens the reader on how to use the mentor text intertwined with the use of the Common Core Standards and [...]

    2. As a fourth grade, ELA teacher looking for ways to spruce up my writing instruction, I absolutely adored this book. It was a quick, summer read that got me back into the teaching mind-frame (despite the fact that my body was on a beach!), and gave me some fresh ideas and resources with which to revamp my writing block this upcoming school year.In "The Writing Thief," Ruth Culham describes how and why she uses mentor texts in the classroom to promote higher level writing skills and strategies, an [...]

    3. Great ideas for anyone looking for new ways to teach writing. I really appreciated her explanation of the writing traits and their key qualities. I was familiar with the writing traits before, but then her explanation of the key qualities really helped to hammer out the traits in my mind. I would recommend sharing that information explicitly with students, as well. Rather than just talking about having voice in writing, talk with the students about the qualities of voice and what to be looking f [...]

    4. While this book may not have all of the answers, it certainly did plant enough seeds of inspiration in my mind to help me become a better writing teacher to my children (I homeschool 2nd and 5th grade). My big picture take-away is that READING is the key to writing well. Significantly reduce your dependence on all of those time-honored, traditional writing practices of five-paragraph essays, diagramming sentences, memorizing lists of spelling words and completing pages and pages of grammar and v [...]

    5. Although this book is tailored toward elementary students, it expounds upon important truths about teaching writing at any level. Culham discusses the significance of using excellent writing models to help students analyze writing for "tricks" and then apply those tricks to their own writing. While she delves into informational writing, narrative writing, and opinion writing, I personally found her chapter on narrative writing to be most beneficial and borrowed several ideas to use in the high s [...]

    6. I want to like this book more than I do. For starters, I disagree with Culham on what a mentor text is. To me, a mentor text is a text that you can return to again and again to learn many things from. You may read a text with students and talk about how the author revealed the character; later you might go back to look at strong verbs or use for literary devices or examine something else this text can teach. Culham has many, many resources, but many of these I would call touchstone texts, or tex [...]

    7. This was a book I had mixed feelings about way before I read page one. I have years of experience providing PD on The Traits, and have done extensive work over the past three years on the ELA Common Core State Standards. I questioned if the two could play well together. Ruth Culham does a wonderful job of highlighting how the traits and the Standards intersect. Teachers will find loads of ideas for using mentor texts in all three types of writing. I think any teachers who teach writing would do [...]

    8. I enjoyed this book on using mentor texts to teach the craft of writing. The title reflects the same idea as Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist. The concept is that great writers steal from great works. Throughout the book, guest authors write about who and what have inspired them. Culham also provides many specific mentor titles for various kinds of writing traits within modes of writing. "By using mentor texts, the reader can virtually position him-or herself to sit beside the author and stud [...]

    9. Despite the fact that I'm a high school teacher, I can totally see myself using the majority of these elementary-focused activities. Culham has really thought out the 6 Traits of Writing and has found good, interesting quality texts to match them. What's better, she provides suggestions for discussion questions and extension activities to get the students to really think about the examples and their purpose within the traits of writing. My book is also FULL of notes, marking things I want to do, [...]

    10. I really enjoyed how Culham turned on the "well, duh!" Light in my head. I've been using mentor sentences and texts for two years, have used the 6 traits of writing even longer. I firmly agree that the best way to learn anything is to find someone who does it well and learn from them. Why should writing be any different? Why have I been attacking each of these things in isolation and not integrating them more fully? This book is a very handy read and great resource for using mentor texts in the [...]

    11. Wow! As a resource teacher I don't teach writing, but I work with teachers who do. My original purpose for reading this was to get a "refresher" on writing instruction so I could more effectively assist my colleagues. I am definitely now prepared for that, but I gained so much more: A more thorough understanding of how to push students for better work, along with many, many examples of mentor texts and exactly how to use them. I have to give this a five-star rating because I couldn't put it down [...]

    12. This book is a nice resource to have in our professional library, especially insofar as Culham offers a pretty current list of mentor texts along with lessons with which they might be productively matched. I was hoping, however, for something new or inspiring to push our writing instruction, and while the ideas in this book certainly reaffirm those that our writing department holds dear, I did not see much in this book to push us to a higher level of sophistication. Yes, we learn how to write by [...]

    13. This was a fast read for summer idea gathering. Ruth Culham provides so many text examples to use with children to practice their own craft of writing. I love that she uses menus, signs, online reviews of video games as well as current and classic literature. She has laid the information out in a way to easily implement her strategies into my writing block. The strategies also are tuned to teaching students how to cite evidence from text in order to formulate their own written response.

    14. This book offered practical ways to structure writing curriculum with many examples of informational, narrative, and argumentative writing from published works. I would have preferred solely practical help - so less theory - as well as more excerpts from chapter books. Although still applicable for the secondary classroom, the vast majority of excerpts came from picture books, making me think The Writing Thief would be better suited for an elementary teacher than a secondary teacher.

    15. This book was exactly what I needed - a reminder that what is worthy of rereading in a piece of text can become the content of a pretty amazing writing minilesson. I loved the list if mento texts and how to use them, and I loved reading about the traits and how to diagnose writing issues with kids.

    16. This was a great read for elementary teachers. She gives lots of examples of mentor texts to use when teaching writing, why they should be used and the specific examples from each. I like how she included not only books, but fliers, posters, websites, reviews and more. I will go back and reference this many times!

    17. This book came recommended from teachers who follow a reading / writing workshop approach in their classroom. I found this book very organized and helpful for K-8 teachers. I am not sure I would use many of the resources shared in a high school class (many are picture books) but I appreciated these examples to help me understand how to teach the skills.

    18. I absolutely loved the writing ideas in this book! It was very well written, and the strategies mentioned will definitely be worthwhile to implement in my reading and writing classes. Great professional development book!

    19. A sharp, critical focus on the craft of writing. Our summer TAR group read a chapter each week and discussed and reviewed the mentor texts cited. There are a lot of ideas to ponder and activities to share.

    20. Ruth Culham breaks down the 4 components to writing and then presents the reader with a starting list of mentor texts, as well as lesson suggestions. A good resource as I work to develop my writing instruction.

    21. Lots of good ideas but the highlight of the book is the loads of mentor texts included. So many books to go check out!

    22. Excellent Resource! This book is going to be my go to for lessons this year on teaching writing! There is a plethora of wonderful ideas on teaching writing using mentor texts!

    23. Transformative text: discusses clearly how to use close reading with close writing, integrating mentor texts.

    24. The idea of teaching with trade books and imitating writers isn't new. This book renews your idea of looking/ planning lessons with a specific lens.

    25. This is a reference book for the teaching of writing. It is more appropriate for elementary grades than middle school.

    26. Kind of the book i want to write! Lots of picture books and ideas for how to use them toteach writing. Ruth Culham, so the writing is effective, too.

    27. Felt like kismet to find an author so aligned with my own teaching philosophies. If only I knew as much as she does. At least I've still got time.

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