Developing reading and writing connections is the purpose of mentor texts. I have found that explicit instruction on the use of literary devices in mentor texts impacts the quality of student writing, particularly narrative writing. The third anchor standard of writing in Common Core has to do with writing narratives that use effective, well chosen details. To help students learn to use effective details, this lesson focuses on the literary device of predictable text. Predictable text is a style of writing that uses recurring language patterns. Predictable text uses repetitive phrases throughout the story and engages the reader with literary devices such as rhyme, repetition, and sequence. These devices invite the readers to chime in as they become involved in the story.
I ask students what makes a story predictable. Some will say the illustrations, the title, or the hints the author gives (foreshadowing). For today, we will focus on repetition of words within a story to generate predictable patterns. We discuss further that the author's purpose in using this technique is to create a mood, add rhythm, or stress something that is important.
I share my Repetition Flip Chart to discuss important elements that make repetition effective in literature. We also analyze a few examples on the flip chart. Video examples of literature using this technique are also embedded in the flip chart. I like to point out the picture books that use this technique because students have prior knowledge of the author's work and this concept builds on prior knowledge. It is sometimes more effective for students to start from familiar beginnings before they wander into unfamiliar, more complex concepts. The videos of familiar stories that I use as examples are: ▶ Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? , ▶ Polar Bear Polar Bear, What Do You Hear video, and Tikki Tikki Tembo video.
I model writing that incorporates repetitive text so that students can see another concrete example. We write a story together incorporating a repetitive phrase such as that used in "The Three Little Pigs." Instead of "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down," we transitioned into, "You get what you get and you don't get upset." We begin writing a story about a baby boy who had tantrums. One of the student seemed to be describing his little brother as he contributed the idea of this story about a boy who complained about each gift he received for his birthday. The family repeated the phrase after he complained each time. After reviewing the pattern of this story, we discuss the final writing. After the discussion, I inform students that they will create their own writing, similar to the one I modeled, but on a topic of their choosing.
Students work in pairs to brainstorm ideas for their own writing using the mentor texts or videos as examples. Pairing students give opportunities to discuss new ideas and give feedback to one another.
Once students have discussed their plans, they work together on writing a picture book that imitates one of the mentor stories. As I observe their work, I see their creativity as one team creates their work on the take off from Brown Bear and Polar Bear books: cover of book , beginning of book, middle of book, end of book.
Students share their ideas and final products as they read the book they wrote. Feedback from peers is vital for improvement. Feedback focuses on the effectiveness of this specific literary technique: repetition. We also discuss other experiences students have been exposed to in literature and media that involves repetition. Applying real world experiences into the lessons develops a purpose for learning.