Growing Readers and Writers with Spring Mentor Texts

Mentor texts are critical pieces of any classroom with a strong literacy program. This post focuses on my favorite spring mentor text, The Best Part of Me by Wendy Ewald. April is National Poetry Month, so Spring is the perfect time of year to try using The Best Part of Me in your own classroom!

Let's get started!
The Best Part of Me is a collection of photographs and student writing pieces focused on the parts of themselves they love the most. The book is the result of a collaboration between award-winning photographer Wendy Ewald and Durham Public Schools in North Carolina. This text is a great way to use student writing as a model in your own classroom. You can click my affiliate link on the picture below or on this hyperlink to take a peek!


I'm sharing the first couple of lessons from a unit I have that are on based on this text. I've used this unit for over a decade in my own classroom, and I've seen great success with it. I love the way it scaffolds the steps of writing a poem for students.

The first lesson is simply an opportunity to share pieces of the book with your students and have them brainstorm a list of favorite parts of themselves they might like to write about.

This isn't really a book you're going to sit down and read with your kids all in one lesson. I'm a big believer in keeping a mini-lesson as "mini" as possible. We want our kids to spend the majority of their Writer's Workshop time writing, right?

On the first day, I introduce the text and choose a couple of my favorite pieces and photographs to share with my students. This is so they have an "end in mind" as they're working over the next few days.
First, I model the task of brainstorming a list of my favorite parts. Step out on the writing limb with me, friends! We have to MODEL what we want our kids to do during their independent work time. This means lots of thinking aloud, modeling recording our thoughts, and fixing a few mistakes along the way. You can do this with a document camera if you're lucky enough to be able to use one every day, or print the page out as a poster and do it on a larger scale.

I'm also including a Bonus Lesson today! In fact, I wrote the first two lessons and went back and added this one shortly afterwards. It will help your students "narrow their focus" before they begin drafting the next day.

You'll model the task by choosing one of 6 body part picture cards. Glue it to a piece of chart paper and make a list of adjectives and descriptive phrases underneath that describe this part on your body.

You could also use one of your students as a "model" and have the class describe that part of their body.

After the students repeat this activity in a small group, your students will practice the skill independently with a "Describe Your Part" work page. You can differentiate the levels of support your students will require with one of three work pages. This kind of tiered work is especially helpful for my ESOL and EC students.

To grab a copy of this lesson sampler for yourself, click HERE to grab it from Teachers Pay Teachers. To purchase the unit, follow this link!


I hope this encourages you to try out some poetry writing with your students! It's one of my favorite writer's workshop units all year long!

Don't forget to check out the other lessons in the link-up here:


  1. This is one of my all time favorite books! Thank you for the great resources!
    Reading in Room 11

  2. What an ADORABLE book and activity! Thank you so much for sharing :)
    The Techie Teacher

  3. Abby-Your post was fabulous! I LOVE teaching writing, and I am adding this book to my shopping cart. It looks perfect. Thanks for joining in with us this time!
    PS...see ya at the conference!

  4. When will this be published and put in your TpT store?