Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Adventures of Exploring Mentor Text Layers

The business of mentor texts, whether fiction or nonfiction, is analyzing different layers.  Even the funniest fiction can model important elements for writers. As you write your own stories, do you consider the learning opportunities that your text offers? Whether it is lap time, naptime, story time, school time, or anytime at all, learning takes place through underlying themes, messages, information, and modeled elements.

The end of the school year is near, but you absolutely must put Adventures to School on your radar for the beginning of the 2018-19 school year. Understanding our diverse world starts with exploring different cultures and environments. School is something kids can relate to in most places. But we don’t all get to school the same way, not even in the United States. So why not open this discussion as soon as school starts back up?

There are many unique learning points for Adventures to School, which gives it lots of layers.

1)    Fiction and Nonfiction Elements
This text is broken into mini first-person narratives of children from different countries as they journey to school. Side panels offer information on topics from landforms to transportation to capitals, families, and school. The combination of both fiction and nonfiction makes it extra engaging.

2)    Culture and Country Research
While the panels give us an information head start on some countries, this text is a springboard to additional inquiry about these and other countries, as well. As an educator, I plan to delve further into what students learn and do at varied schools and how their days are structured. I will also encourage students to branch into additional information about their chosen country, the villages, the climate, or any other areas that students find interesting. By presenting and sharing finished projects, students can teach each other about different school experiences around the world. I will likely strike up Skype connections with several different classrooms, as well.

3)    Comprehension through Compare and Contrast
Great stories create opportunities to make real-world connections. A evergreen topic like school will surely allow them to make connections each time they hear about a different school experience. Are there similarities to their experience? Are there differences? I will also encourage students to compare and contrast the illustrations in the book to real photographs. You can find some great comprehension resources on Miranda Paul's teacher resource page.

4)    Rich Vocabulary
There is no shying away from rich vocabulary in Miranda and Baptiste Paul’s books. This selection features many foreign language words, as well as contextual English words to grow vocabulary in unique ways. Check out some of the vocab here.

As you request this story from your library or find it in book stores, what additional learning opportunities can you identify with this book? Which mentor text elements stand out to you?

Thinking back to your current work in progress, what learning opportunities do you offer?


  1. I'd expect no less than a multi-layered deep dive into this fascinating topic from the Pauls. Thanks so much for peeling back these layers to help us explore them further.

  2. This one is heading for our school library. Yay!

  3. Thank you for sharing the layers of this book's heart.

  4. Can't wait to read it keeping an an eye out for all these layers.

  5. I can't access this book yet at my library, so I just went and requested they purchase it! It looks wonderful. I followed the link to the vocab, and I LOVE how big words are used. One of my favorite strategies to build language is to include rich vocabulary. I used to do that all the time with my preschoolers. People were always amazed at the words they knew! Of course, they are language learning kiddos!

  6. These continued ReFoReMo posts have been super for continuing to look at texts critically and for improving craft. Thank you!!

  7. This looks like an interesting format. I must look for it. I will re-examine my texts for their learning opportunities. Thanks for this post.