4 Mentor Texts for Teaching Predictions & Inferences

Boy with hand on his chin looking up and thinking
Active readers are consonantly making predictions and inferences as they read. However, becoming an active reader that makes predictions and makes inferences isn’t an easy task. Students need practice and support in order to master this difficult skill. I love using engaging mentor texts to help my students transition to becoming more active thinkers. 

If you are interested in snagging any of these books, click the picture to find it on Amazon. 
Mentor text with the text "The Sweetest Fig" and graphic organizer with text "inferences"

The Sweetest Fig

I don’t know why I love this book so much, but I do! One day, as Monsieur Bibot is working in his dentist office, he is offered two figs for payment rather than money. He took them but wrote the old lady off as crazy as she told him that they would make all of his dreams come due. After he eats the first fig, he realizes that she was completely right! This book is so perfect for introducing the reading comprehension skill of making inferences. There are SO many things that are left to the imagination in this classic from Chris Van Allsburg! 

Mentor text with the text "The Stranger" and graphic organizer with text "inferences"

The Stranger

If you’re looking for a book that keeps you guessing, wondering, and questioning, The Stranger is seriously it. You could create and inference or a prediction after reading nearly every single page. To be honest, after reading the book year after year, I still don’t know exactly what happened. I am only left with my own conclusion.

When The Stranger shows up at Farmer Bailey’s, everything is different. This poor man can’t remember who he is or where he is from. The Bailey’s take him in for a bit and realize that things are quite unusual. Summer isn’t changing into fall. The leaves aren’t changing.

When The Stranger leaves, what will happen? What was the cause? Let your students make their own predictions and inferences! 

Mentor text with the text "The Giving Tree" and graphic organizer with text "inferences"

The Giving Tree

This book is perfect to use when your students are in the early stages of making predictions and inferences. While reading, you can infer what the characters are feeling and predict what each of them will do next. It is such a simple text with a simple story line. Yet the meaning and thinking are deep! 

Mentor text with the text "The Taking Tree" and graphic organizer with text "inferences"

The Taking Tree

Many of us have read the classic book “The Giving Tree“. We know it. We love it. But have you ever heard of “The Taking Tree“?

One year, after reading it aloud, a student asked if I’d read “The Taking Tree”. I quickly did a Google search and was able to read the book online. It was HILARIOUS! It is such a great parody that our upper elementary students enjoy so much! It also offers multiple themes and a great opportunity to compare and contrast. 

Disclaimer: I don’t allow my students to flip through this book on their own. There is one part where the boy pees on the tree. I didn’t want parents messaging me or emailing my principal about that part! I read it aloud and skip it. 

Click here for your FREE Mentor Text Cheat Sheet!

Do you love mentor texts as much as I do? Have trouble organizing them all?

Do you want to use mentor texts but you don’t know where to start?

I have a FREE Mentor Text Cheat Sheet for you! In this Google Sheet, you’ll find MY list of Mentor Texts and the reading skills that I use them to teach. You can add your own books, sort by author or reading skills, find shortcuts to my blog posts, AND

>>>my favorite feature<<<
>>>cue the drum roll, please<<<

Choose from a dropdown menu to show where you can find the book. For example, I use a boatload of mentor texts in my reading instruction. I can’t afford to buy them all. I find some in our school library, the local library, borrow from my teacher friends, and SOME of them, I do own!

Using the dropdown menu, you can easily remind yourself where you can find your mentor text when you need it! Click the image above OR click here to grab it.

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4 Mentor Texts for Teaching Story Elements

Boy lying down on the floor reading a book
Understanding story elements are important skills in both reading and writing. In lower graders, we often use the words beginning, middle, and end. We even briefly talk about describing the characters. But in upper elementary, we need our students to begin understanding that there is MORE than just these simple words. What is rising action? What is the climax of a story? What is the falling action? Help your students practice identifying each of these elements while using mentor texts! 
If you are interested in snagging any of these books, click the picture to find it on Amazon. 
Mentor Text with text "The Night I Followed the Dog" and Graphic Organizer with text "Story Elements"

The Night I Followed the Dog

Have you ever wondered what your dog does while you are sleeping? When this young boy follows his dog, he learns so much that he never knew! This story has a great plot structure that allows you to show students the components that all great stories should include.
Mentor Text with text "The Potato Chip Champ" and Graphic Organizer with text "Story Elements"

The Potato Chip Champ

The baseball team has a new player, Walter. Everyone loves Walter. Well, everyone loves him, expect Champ. Champ can’t seem to figure out why everyone loves Walter so much.

When Champ hurts himself and Walter steps in his place, you can image the jealousy and problems that this creates. Will a simple act of kindness change the course of their friendship? It’s possible! The Potato Chip Champ is a great example of a story with a good plot structure that will help your students see each component, such as the introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion.

Mentor Text with text "Henry's Freedom Box" and Graphic Organizer with text "Story Elements"

Henry’s Freedom Box

In this real-life story of Henry’s experience with the Underground Railroad, your students can practice finding the elements that should be included in a story. Henry, desperate to escape slavery, mails himself to freedom. Will he make it? 

Mentor Text with text "Grandpa's Teeth" and Graphic Organizer with text "Story Elements"

Grandpa’s Teeth

Where are Grandpa’s Teeth?! This is a story with a clear problem and a great example of a plot. Plus, the conclusion is PERFECT!

At the beginning of this story, Grandpa realizes that his teeth are missing. They search the house. They call the police. They check out teeth from people all over the community. No one can find Grandpa’s teeth. At the end of the book, the mayor gives Grandpa a new set. Forget finding that old set. Once you finish the book, you’ll laugh out loud when you see who has the set of teeth…or at least I did! 🙂 

Click here for your FREE Mentor Text Cheat Sheet!

Do you love mentor texts as much as I do? Have trouble organizing them all?

Do you want to use mentor texts but you don’t know where to start?

I have a FREE Mentor Text Cheat Sheet for you! In this Google Sheet, you’ll find MY list of Mentor Texts and the reading skills that I use them to teach. You can add your own books, sort by author or reading skills, find shortcuts to my blog posts, AND

>>>my favorite feature<<<
>>>cue the drum roll, please<<<

Choose from a dropdown menu to show where you can find the book. For example, I use a boatload of mentor texts in my reading instruction. I can’t afford to buy them all. I find some in our school library, the local library, borrow from my teacher friends, and SOME of them, I do own!

Using the dropdown menu, you can easily remind yourself where you can find your mentor text when you need it! Click the image above OR click here to grab it.

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4 Mentor Texts for Teaching Making Connections

Girl reading a book
Making Connections can be as difficult or as easy as you make it for our upper elementary students. I like to use mentor texts to give my students a LOT of practice in order to help my students master understanding each type of connection, as well as help them provide a list of things that might help spark connections, such as movies, books, current events, and problems in our local area or throughout the world. 

If you are interested in snagging any of these books, click the picture to find it on Amazon. 

Mentor text with text "The Little Red Pen" and graphic organizer with text "Making Connections"

The Little Red Pen

I absolutely love to use The Little Red Pen for introducing my students to making connections. It is the perfect way for me to model my obsession with office supplies and the hours spent grading papers. The way that the characters talk to one another is entertaining and so fun to read!

Mentor text with text "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" and graphic organizer with text "Making Connections"

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

We’ve all had a bad day. We can all relate to the minor things that just rub us the wrong way on a bad day. This book is great for teaching your students that bad days happen and give them the opportunity to make connections. It is also great for discussing other books, movies, and real-life stories that stem from a bad day. 
Mentor text with text "Alexander, Who's Not (Do you hear me? I mean it!) Going to Move" and graphic organizer with text "Making Connections"

Alexander, Who’s Not Going to Move

I really like using this book to teach my students to make connections. I like to use it because many of my students cannot always make Text-to-Self Connections with this storyline. In this Alexander book, his family is moving across the country. He is NOT happy about it. In fact, he is refusing to move at all. This less-relatable book requires students to think of Text-to-Text and Text-to-World Connections. 
Mentor text with text "Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday" and graphic organizer with text "Making Connections"

Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday

Have you ever had a dollar and felt totally RICH?! I have and so has Alexander. When his grandparents give him a dollar he begins thinking about ALL the ways that he can spend his money. How long will it last? Well, about as long as a dollar lasts. Not too long. This is a silly book that we can ALL relate to! 

Click here for your FREE mentor text cheat sheet!

Do you love mentor texts as much as I do? Have trouble organizing them all?

Do you want to use mentor texts but you don’t know where to start?

I have a FREE Mentor Text Cheat Sheet for you! In this Google Sheet, you’ll find MY list of Mentor Texts and the reading skills that I use them to teach. You can add your own books, sort by author or reading skills, find shortcuts to my blog posts, AND

>>>my favorite feature<<<
>>>cue the drum roll, please<<<

Choose from a dropdown menu to show where you can find the book. For example, I use a boatload of mentor texts in my reading instruction. I can’t afford to buy them all. I find some in our school library, the local library, borrow from my teacher friends, and SOME of them, I do own!

Using the dropdown menu, you can easily remind yourself where you can find your mentor text when you need it! Click the image above OR click here to grab it.

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PLOP: What Most People Are Getting Wrong!

I’ll be honest. I am an IEP snob. I’m not saying all of my IEPs are perfect. Far from it, honestly. I’m also not saying that every IEP I have ever written has been top notch. Not at all. I’v learned a lot through the years and have worked to correct my errors.

BUT…there are a few things that just drive me crazy when I see them in IEPs. Some of my biggest pet peeves are in the present level of performance and progress monitoring areas of IEPs.

Grades

Ya’ll, grades aren’t present levels of performance. They just aren’t. What if my teacher is the hardest grader I’ve ever had? What my teacher is the EASIEST grader I’ve ever had? What if grades are based on participation, and I never say a word? What if homework is a huge factor in a teacher’s grading, and I never turn in my homework–better yet, maybe my mom does my homework for me? Grades are subjective. I’m not saying they can’t be mentioned in an IEP. I’m not saying there is never a way or a reason to use them to progress monitor a student, but they don’t tell me what a student CAN do. 

Standardized Testing Scores

First off, who cares? Thanks for letting me know a student did or didn’t pass a standardized test. Unless you are breaking down scores to tell me what their areas of strengths or weaknesses are, that information isn’t useful. It doesn’t occur frequently enough for me to progress monitoring, and I have no idea how they performed on individual questions. 

School Wide Assessment Scores

At my school, we take NWEA and use the programs iReady and Lexia. At my previous school, we did STAR Reading and Math. While those scores are fine to include, they still aren’t the most useful when setting goals. Instead, look closely at the data and find patterns, strengths, and weaknesses.

So…what IS a Present Level of Performance?

Well, this picky-pants-SPED-teacher likes to read a present level of performance and know exactly what group to place a student in. I should be able to read a present level and know what types of words can they read? CVC? Blends? Multisyllabic? Do they read fluently? Can they answer comprehension questions? What type of math can they do? Basic math facts? Regrouping? Multiplication? What does their writing look like? Do they need graphic organizers to get started? Do they need help with spelling? 
Present levels of performance are are critical to guiding a well written goal. They should read like a narrative. It should tell me exactly what a student CAN do with numbers and data supporting it.

How to Assess Present Level of Performance

If assessing your students sounds overwhelming, I understand! I have a blog post just for you. You can read it by click the image above.

I have a course for writing IEP goals. If this sounds like something you might need, click the picture above to take a look at my inexpensive, quick course for crafting IEP goals that are tailored for your students. 

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EASY to Use Main Idea Anchor Chart and FREE Printable

Finding the main idea of a passage is critical for upper elementary. My third grade students and I have been hard at work using a reusable anchor chart to help us decide the main idea of a passage.

Main Idea Anchor Chart with text "What was the WHOLE thing about?"

Create a Reusable Anchor Chart

I created this anchor chart (which isn’t something I enjoy 😬…I hate my own handwriting) with a specific purpose. I wanted to have something that could be laminated and used over and over throughout the year. 
Using a dry erase marker, we’ll be able to recycle the anchor chart as we read through many passages throughout the school year.
Main Idea Anchor Chart with text "What was the WHOLE thing about?" and "Keywords"

Determine Key Words

After reading a passage from our leveled reader, we choose a handful of keywords that would tell us about the WHOLE thing. These words might be about a person, place, thing, idea, animal, topic, or something we learned. We also look for words that were used more than two times. 
Main Idea Anchor Chart with text "What was the WHOLE thing about?" and "Keywords" and "Main Idea"

Write a Main Idea Statement

After we brainstorm keywords, we begin to see if we can use some of the words in a sentence that tells what the whole thing was about. If we can use ALL of them, that’s even better. 
This part has taken a LOOOOOOOOTTTTT of practice! Forming sentences is really hard for my special education students–using “big” words makes it even harder. 
Student holding a clipboard with mini main idea anchor chart

Mini Student Anchor Charts

We’ve been working on this for WEEKS! I finally felt like it was time to start making this a little more independent. Together, we brainstormed keywords and my students recorded them on their own mini anchor chart. 
Students using a textbook to fill in their main idea mini anchor charts

Main Idea Statements

I couldn’t wait to see what sentences they generated using their keywords. These two students came up with:
“Animals camouflage from [their prey].”
“Animals hid from [their prey].” 
I snapped this picture a little early and their sentences weren’t quite finished! Either way, these sentences are SPOT ON when it comes to describing the passage that we had read, which shared several examples of how animals hide from their prey in their habitat.  
Click here to get your FREE main idea mini anchor chart
Want to grab this mini anchor chart? Click the image above or click here to download it! 
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