Friday, October 2, 2015

flipping for fall blog hop: reading with a writer's eye

Hi and welcome to BigTime Literacy! If this is your first time landing here, I'm Michelle, a Literacy Coach, advocate for Reading and Writing Workshop, and a writer myself. I'm really excited to be joining a group of amazing Reading Specialists and Literacy Coaches to share some mentor texts for the fall season!

Do you love fall as much as I do? It's been beautiful here in Chicago - 60's and 70's and sunny even! The leaves aren't falling yet, but I'm excited for that, and cool nights sleeping with the windows open, college football with friends, watching the Bears lose every week (grrr!), and sweaters and boots. I actually moved back to Chicago from Phoenix in 2009 for this season, if that is any indication of how much I love it!

With fall on our minds, each blogger from our tribe, The Reading Crew, has chosen a favorite fall mentor text to share with you. I've chosen is Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant.

In this text, Rylant very thoughtfully and deliberately has described Scarecrow, and so it's the perfect mentor text to study with students who are working on personal narratives or fiction stories, so they can learn to craft characters just like she has. Rylant repeats one thing over and over, how even though the materials used to make Scarecrow are borrowed, it really is all about what is inside that counts.

Close Reading with a Writer's Eye
Many people often think of Close Reading as reading a passage or short text multiple times and annotating it. While those are some of the steps we go through as we close read, I believe it's more about looking through varying lenses to study what the author is saying. In the case of this text, as I kept reading, the word borrowed was repeated over and over, I began close reading to determine the significance of that word, which in the end, led me to theme. I was also looking closely for ways that Rylant revealed the Scarecrow, through his feelings, actions, physical traits, words, and thoughts. What close reading is really about is studying an author's craft and wondering she wrote in the way she did. This lesson, while about writing characters, is also naturally about close reading.

The Freebie!
Now that you have a fabulous recommendation for a Mentor Text, I have created a Characterization freebie for you to take and use with it! In this document, you can find the mini-lesson directions, the complete text of the book to use for close reading and study, a handout to model your anchor chart after, and a handout for students to sketch and rehearse ideas for the characters in their stories. I hope you will find it useful with your students!

If you like what you've read here at BigTime Literacy, be sure to keep in touch, here on the blog, or on any of my social media outlets! I love to collaborate with anyone who engages with my blog!

Did you find my secret word? If you missed it, it was the word in orange: borrowed. Be sure to record that to be eligible for our amazing prize package, copies of all the mentor texts we're sharing! You can find the details for the challenge and prizes on Gay's blog, The Book Units Teacher. Click over there if you want to go back to the beginning of the hop!

But, if you're ready for the next stop on the blog hop, it's time to head over to Pawsitively Teaching and see what Lisa has for you! 

Fall is my most favorite season, hope you enjoy yours this year!      



  1. Thank you for sharing, Michelle. Good luck with the hop. Sandy

  2. This is one of my favorite books, and I love the lesson you laid out. Thank you so much for the freebie. I will add to my collection of Cynthia Rylant ideas.

  3. I don't know this book, but it sounds like it would also be a great one to use for teaching the author's message.

    Literacy Spark


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