Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mentor Text - Determing Importance, Text Features and Summarizing and Linky - What Will I Do Differently Next Year

Hello All!

Today I am linking up with Collaboration Cuties for their Must Read Mentor Text Linky.  This week’s linky requires mentor text related to any language arts lessons. 

The rule is to select ONE text each week, so I am asking for forgiveness right up front.  The two books I am recommending truly go hand-in-hand.
“Forest Explorer: Life-sized Field Guide” and “Backyard Detective: Critters Up Close” are both written by Nic Bishop.  He writes all kinds of awesome nonfiction book for children.  Year after year, I learn something new to add to my lessons through these two books. The photographs are truly remarkable, too!
Here are the two books that I would like to share this week and their book description from Scholastic’s Book Wizard.

Explore the exciting world of the forest, where more than 125 different bugs, worms, and small critters play out the drama of life in miniature. Seven different life-size forest habitats, exploring the leaf-litter to the tree-top canopy through all four seasons, are vividly depicted in enticingly lush photographic scenes. Each scene is followed by "field notes" which identify all animals, relate intriguing facts about survival in each habitat, and share the excitement of discovery. Includes forest exploration hints, essential safety information, and a "picture index" for easy reference.

Explore the fascinating mini-wilds of your own backyard with this dramatic photographic exploration of the natural world. Award-winning photographer and natural scientist Nic Bishop has combined more than 200 detailed, stop-action images of common backyard animals into seven lush, life-size environments that are literally crawling with critters. Young nature detectives will spy more than 100 different spider, snakes, wasps, and beetles busy hiding, prowling, eating and getting eaten. Inviting informational spreads identify all the animals in an appealing, contagiously enthusiastic text that lets readers in on neat tips and facts. With kid-friendly natural science projects and a stunning pictorial index, this fact-filled, visually exciting book invites both sharp-eyed search-and-find fun and real nature science inquiry. Bugs have never been so much fun!

I use both books as a weeklong unit that focuses on determining importance in nonfiction books, using text features, and summarizing. 

Each book has eight two page spreads with factual information followed by two page spreads of wonderful, brightly colored, life-size photo collages.  (Warning:  My students spend A LOT of time just taking in the pictures.) 

I began my lesson by introducing the books and how they are organized.  We discuss the table of contents and the picture index.  I partner the students up and each set of partners tackle a different section of the book.  They must read the text, identify the most important information, and then present it to the class.  Students use highlighters to mark the important information and then they use a graphic organizer to summarize the text. (I first model what the expectations are with one section of text before sending them to work with a partner.  If not, they tend to highlight the entire text.  Fourth graders have a difficult time identifying the main idea and essential details in a text.)

Here are two pages from “Backyard Detective: Critters Up Close”:

I do believe I have a few of the student made flip books and the anchor chart we made in class during this week’s lesson.  I will add them to the post tomorrow if I am able to round them up.

What are some of your favorite mentor texts to use to teach determining importance, text features, and summarizing?

Be sure to stop by Collaboration Cuties to learn about other Must Read Mentor Texts for language arts.  I have added so many books to my “to buy list”.

Next I am linking up with Kim at Finding JOY in 6th Grade.  She is hosting a linky titled "What I Will You Do Differently Next Year?"

Stop by Finding JOY in 6th Grade to see what changes other bloggers are deciding to make for next year.


  1. Teaching about non fiction text features, determining importance and summarizing are SO important with Common Core! I do a slightly simplified version of the determining importance piece with my 1st graders through modeling and a graphic organizer. I'm always amazed at just how much they love non fiction stories!
    Learning to the Core

  2. Perfect books for the skills you listed and your descriptions are wonderful and very clear. Thanks so much for sharing.
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  3. What excellent book suggestions! I am always on the hunt for new non-fiction books. These look great! :)
    I love the idea of letting partners read a section and present on it. I know exactly what you mean about highlighting entire paragraphs at a time :)

    My list to buy is ever-growing as well. I'm praying for lots of B&N gift cards at the end of the year :)

    Joy in the Journey

  4. These are great skills to work on for the Common Core! I love how you really explained how you use the books with your students. Pinned for reference this summer:)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  5. These both look great! Thank so much for sharing how you used the texts with your students. Great post!

    Sarah @ Hoots N' Hollers

  6. I am so glad that you linked up some nonfiction! I need to do better about that for LA! I usually hit it within science and SS. As soon as I read this I thought, I need to try to find some nonfiction to link up myself!

    These books look so engaging! I love all of it. These will definitely have to go on my wishlist!!

    Thanks for linking up!
    Collaboration Cuties