It’s always exciting to have an author visit a school, and of course the students appreciate it more when they are familiar with the author’s work and know a little about him. The students in all the classes were given opportunities to study some of Sneed’s books and make discoveries about the books and the author’s interests and craft.
One fifth grade class noticed that some of Sneed’s books followed a predictable format. Wings, Beaks, Teeth, and Leaving Home all had text that was more poetic in nature and served as a focused idea that was explained further with a short informational piece on each page. Leaving Home in particular served as a mentor text and inspired these fifth graders to work collaboratively to write their own informational picture book about the different ways animals eat. They conducted research with books, internet resources, and personal observation to expand on a focused idea. In the process, they became a writing community, helping each other to brainstorm ideas, find information, and revise their paragraphs for interest and accuracy. The finished book was presented to Sneed as a thank you for his visit.
Mentor texts, a real-world audience, collaboration – motivation for young writers that will serve them well all year.