Writing workshop teachers design their year-long curriculum with a series of units of study. Sometimes, these units of study are of a specific genre. During this 4-6 weeks, students read, study, and write in this genre. As in all units of study, mentor texts, or published texts used to exemplify writing craft, are excellent ways to show students examples of choices authors make to convey a message and affect audiences.
Here are links to support teachers’ search for mentor texts to support genre units of study.
At the above link, you can access a list of biographies for children that can be used to support a unit of study on the genre. Through students’ deep reading of biographies we can integrate social studies into the Language Arts and introduce students to important historical figures who have fought for justice and equity. In the teaching of writing of biography, it is most effective and authentic to have students write biographies about people in their lives, people to whom they have regular access. When students write biographies about famous people or people in history, they don’t have much choice other than to simply summarize what they learn in books. However, when students write biographies about people they know, they engage in first-hand, authentic research. This is also a wonderful chance for a strong home-school connection. The writing students do bring their families’ stories, strengths, and culture into the classroom.
See Katherine Bomer’s Writing a Life: Teaching Memoir to Sharpen Insight, Shape Meaning–and Triumph Over Tests
*See a complete list of Katherine Bomer’s books here.