I was in a first grade classroom today during writing workshop. The teacher has supported these young writers in many ways, and they have grown so much since the fall. As the teacher asked what each student was working on today, students shared a variety of writing projects in process. Since this teacher offers so much choice to her students, there was a wide variety of responses. One student with a tiny voice but a determined stature replied, "I'm using the book, 31 Uses for a Mom, as a mentor text to write my own book just like it."
This child has recognized that books can be a scaffold for her own writing. The word "mentor" is part of the shared language of this classroom. This young writer was engaged, motivated, creative, determined, and focused on her work. She created the text and began to illustrate. We talked briefly about how much her own mother would enjoy the book, so she has learned about audience. She never doubted that she could do it. In fact, she said that she had so many ideas in her head that she couldn't get them all down.
In writing workshop, even our youngest students can become writers with the support of a caring teacher, a classroom full of books, and the confidence to simply go at it.