Getting started – using mentor texts from Patricia Polacco

search-2It is another cool rainy day, to wet to go hide in my garden, laundry is done, dishes are done, there is a photo project in front of me but what I really should, want and am not doing is writing.

I have a list of projects but for some reason I can’t get started. I am hiding from writing. No real reason that I can think of – just not doing the work.  It is a perfect day – cool and rainy can’t really be out doing other things. But writing is work, hard work and I just can’t get started.

So – get busy and write isn’t as easy as it sounds.  “Just write – It is a perfect day.” Oh, how many times have I said that to a class of students. I would send them off with their notebooks and then wondered why they were looking at books, staring out the window and sleeping with their eyes open. They were doing what I am now doing.

A little bit of avoiding, a little bit of  story seeking – letting our minds wonder until we find that story.  Patricia Polacco, in My Ol’ Man, states this right at the first of her book. search

Anytime I want I get quiet and sit still and I am little again…   When I do this it isn’t now anymore , it is then again.

Using mentor texts to help our students and our selves begin writing is a perfect way to push us past that getting started phase.  We can begin by

  • reading an author we like (today it is Patricia Polacco)
  • choose a few lines from their writing

search-1( A voice that is slow like thunder and sweet like rain – Chicken Sunday

From where I sit only a brave person could have done all those things – Thunder Cake )

  • copy them into a notebook and
  • continue the sentences on our own

We are writing without that blank page, the I don’t have any ideas phase is gone.

Patricia Polacco is a perfect writer for this type of kick start.  She is writing personal narratives, short stories about her life as a child. She uses key phrases that repeat in her stories to help keep the story going.  She has short positive messages that early writers and older writers can connect to. Patricia is a perfect spring board for writing.

Give her a try the next time you or your students are stuck- she has lots of books ( I count 55 on her web site).  Following her on Facebook is another great way to kick off story writing.  She is constantly posting images from past or present books.  They are perfect for story starters.

Happy Rainy Day Writing!



About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in journals, writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Getting started – using mentor texts from Patricia Polacco

  1. K. Renae P. says:

    I just love Patricia Polacco. Pink and Say is my fave. I love when Say told Pink “Now you can say you touched the hand that shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln!”

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