What is a mentor text anyway?
A mentor text is any text used to model the type of writing your students are learning. Mentor texts are the backbone of writing workshop because students need to see what the pros do, to get inspired in their own writing. Mentor texts can also be called writing samples, or examples.
One of the most challenging parts of being a writing teacher is finding mentor texts. So I’ve curated a list of my go to places for mentor texts online below.
Before you dive in, I think it is important to remember mentor texts can be found in many, many places. Sometimes I’ll roam the class library for my favorite books or use writing from previous years done by students. I also write my own writing samples. You might think about using these strategies too.
But teachers are busy, so having a go to list can help!
Another thing you should definitely do is check out this post about How to Use Mentor Texts.
You can also check out this quick video reviewing ten of my favorite places to find mentor texts…
Mentor Texts by Kids
This is one of my favorite places to find writing samples written by students because there are many samples for each genre of writing and from students in 1st-12th grade. I link this site to my class website so that students and parents can refer to it throughout the year.
Achieve The Core
This site is an incredibly comprehensive and well organized resource created by non other than the writers of the Common Core! It not only has samples for grades K-12, it also has prompts, lessons, assessments and much more! I highly recommend you peruse this one.
Reading and Writing Project
I love this site because it is organized and run by none other than my hero…Lucy Calkins. You can find information, narrative, realistic fiction, poetry and opinion writing samples written by K-8 students here.
This site has Pre-K through 3rd grade writing samples (both hand written and typed). There is also a thorough analysis of what each writer does well and needs to learn next provided with each sample.
Scholastic Write It
This site has loads of writing samples for poetry, essays, short fiction, memoirs, humor and journalism. It is also a place for student writers to connect through a bulletin board chat feature! Students can even publish their work here too!
Mentor Texts by Adults
Completely free and full of high interest nonfiction and fiction for 5th-12th graders. You can sort by lexile level, themes, genres, devices or standards too!
This site provides many writing samples to teach information writing in grades K-12 and the articles are even organized by Lexile level!
Awesome site with tons of nonfiction articles written about topics kids care about. Students K-8 can comment or even mail each other articles they think their friend may like. Sort by current events, science, social studies, sports, world, environment or fun. Students can also write book and movie reviews. This feature is for students K-12.
Sign up for a 30 day free trial and have access to tons of online texts. Not only that you can insert questions, polls, notes and other links for students to interact with. You can also grade student answers and collect data on how long they read, words they looked up, notes they took and parts they didn’t understand. Students can listen to texts being read aloud too!
You have to sign up to read full articles but there are a plethora of information articles to choose from and you can have access to the premium version for 45 days. You can add your classes, assign specific articles and track student progress.
New York Times The Learning Network
This site is mainly for middle and high schoolers and has lots and lots of resources. There is a writing competition every year and the pieces written by the winners and runners up are featured here. Showing your students really incredible and powerful writing done by kids can be just the inspiration and motivation your class needs.
Middle School Mentor Texts for All Genres
This is a blog post right on this website. What’s awesome about this post is that all the mentor texts are directly linked within the post and every genre is included (except poetry).
There are so many writing samples on this site it is overwhelming! This site does cost money and is definitely worth it if your school or district decides to go for it. My recommendation until then? Sign up for the 14 day free trial and download as many samples as you can!
This is an awesome site that provides access to a shared Google Drive with many, many mentor texts. Just click the button that says “Click Here to Enter the Mentor Text Drop Box” and you will be transported to mentor text heaven.
PBS Kids Writers
Super fun website for K-3 that hosts a writing contest and features the winners too!