model text

Model Texts in Conferences

As you review the conferences in Strategic Writing Conferences, you'll notice that most of them include model texts. Some of these model texts are excerpts from children's literature; others are excerpts from my writer's notebook or drafts of pieces I wrote.

It's crucial to show the student model texts during the conference. Model texts help the student "see" what it looks like when a writer uses a strategy or craft technique. It helps the student envision putting the strategy in practice in his own writing. Also, when you use a model text, you are providing guided practice with what Frank Smith (1988) and Katie Ray (1999) call "reading like a writer." When a writer reads work by other writers, she notices the strategies and craft techniques used, then tries the same technique in her own writing. When model texts are used routinely in conferences, students learn that they, too, can learn from other writers—something they can do for the rest of their lives.

Whenever a conference includes a model text, have the excerpt handy before you confer with the student. To help you prepare for your conferences, each model text is embedded in the conference at point of use, so you can read when and how to use it. The model text is also included as a reproducible on a separate page at the end of the conference. Of course, when you are using an excerpt of a published piece of children's literature that you have access to, feel free to show the excerpt in the text itself. Many of the model texts are well-known children's books, which can be found in most school libraries or bookstores; you may have several of them in you classroom library already.

When you refer to a model text during a conference, place the text between you and the student so that the student can easily see it. Take the time to read the excerpt aloud, and ask the student to follow along as you read. (Read the excerpt aloud even if you've already read the whole text or an excerpt to the class during read-aloud time or minilesson. Writers often read a favorite text over and over when they are studying a technique.) As you teach, point to the features of the text that illustrate what you're explaining so that the student matches your teaching to the appropriate part of the text.

Not only will the conferences in Strategic Writing Conferences help you teach writing strategies and techniques with more clarity and precision, they will help you become more comfortable in general with the method of using model texts to teach—an important skill for every writing teacher.

Model Texts Used in Strategic Writing Conferences

Brinckloe, Julie. 1985. Fireflies. New York: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.

Butler, Dori Hillestad. 1995. "New Kid." Cricket 22 (12).

Condor, Bob. 1994. "Operating with Spare Parts: Peek at Your Body's 'Extra' Pieces." Chicago Tribune: Kid News 1 (May 3).

Crews, Donald. 1996. Shortcut. New York: HarperTrophy.

Downey, Charles. 1998. "The Grossest Things You Can Think of May One Day Save Your Life." Boy's Life (December).

Fletcher, Ralph. 2005. Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Hesse, Karen. 1999. C'mon Rain. New York: Scholastic.

Lawler, Janet. 2005. "Cami's First Soccer Game" Highlights for Children 60 (7).

Little, Jean. 1987. Little By Little. New York: Penguin Books.

Long, D.S. 1990. "Cat Talk." Originally published in School Journal 3 (1). Reprinted in Cricket 21 (2).

Macaulay, Ellen. 1998. "The Rattler Tattler." Boys' Quest 3 (5).

MacLachlan, Patricia. 1991. Journey. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers.

Meds Maps, Inc. Cape Cod Guide. Meds Maps, Inc.: Harwich, MA.

Musselman, Kelly. "Clean Up Your Act."

Myers, Jack. 2006. "How Does My Glow-in-the-Dark Stuff Glow?" Highlights for Children: Science Letters (November).

Polacco, Patricia. 1994. My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother. New York: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.

Polacco, Patricia. 1999. My Ol' Man. New York: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.

Purdom, Candace. 1994. "Peer Pressure: Afraid You'll Cave?" Chicago Tribune: Kid News 5 (August 23).

Purdom, Candace. 1994. "So a Big, Bad Bully Is Coming After You . . ." Chicago Tribune: Kid News 1 (August 23).

Quinlen, Anna. 1994. "17 Going on 18." The New York Times (November 30): A23.

Reifsnyder, Cheryl. 2006. "Quick-Thinking Meerkats" Highlights for Children 61 (9).

Rylant, Cynthia. 1993. The Relatives Came. New York: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.

Sendak, Maurice. 1988. Where The Wild Things Are. New York: Harper Trophy.

Soto, Gary. 2000. "The Marble Champ." In Baseball in April and Other Stories. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Children's Books.

TIME For Kids. 1999. "Hooked!" TIME For Kids 4 (March 12).

Yolen, Jane. 1987. Owl Moon. New York: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.

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