Of Picasso and Mentor Texts

It’s Tuesday and The Two Writing Teachers are inviting you to join them on their Slice of Life blog.  Feel free to join in!  

Of Picasso and Mentor Texts

I spent this past weekend exploring the city of Portland, Maine with my daughter.  She had visited the city previously and told me it was a wonderful city filled with great restaurants to explore. Despite mother nature’s first blast of winter air, we enjoyed three days of foodie heaven, eating our way through the sea-side city. 

We also made time to visit the Portland Museum of Art and was wowed with the exhibits of some great artists including children’s artist Dahlov Ipcar, Winslow Homer, and Pablo Picasso.  I thoroughly our time at the art museum and was especially in awe as I looked at the Picasso painting. I was emotionally moved with happy feelings as I looked at the colors he chose for the painting.  I was intrigued at his use of shapes to represent a face, and I marveled at what seemed to be simple brush strokes that made this painting so elegant and magnificent. I walked away from the painting so inspired to paint something – anything. Picasso inspired me so much that I simply wanted to paint. I left the museum with high hopes of picking up a brush soon.  

It was then that I began to wonder about the power of a mentor text.  Much like the Picasso painting created an urge in me to paint, my hope is that the stories I read become tools to produce better and more writing.  I hope that my use of mentor texts create an emotional reaction in my children, causing them to include deep feelings in their stories.  I hope that mentor texts I use include colorful language that the children can mimic in their texts.  And I hope that the mentor texts that I use are powerful in their words yet simple in their message so that that I create an urgency to keep at the work of writing.  I believe I use mentor texts in these ways but the experience of looking at a Picasso has left me with a resolve to ensure that I make better use of mentor texts in writing workshop.  Picasso inspired and moved me to paint, and I would like to create opportunities to do the same for my writers! 

2 Replies to “Of Picasso and Mentor Texts”

  1. Great Slice of Life! The term, “mentor,” caught my eye because I had a great mentor when I started teaching Developmental Writing as an adjunct instructor back in the mid-90's. Lew Sayers had already written a textbook for his DWRI course, and I'd written a few teaching materials. I found myself including edited student essays with the subtitle, “The Students Take Over.” A veteran wrote about driving a tank in the Bosnian conflict because it was his favorite job. Later as a full-time instructor, I got a favorite music essay explaining the “chopped” feature in the Dirty South rap of Houston. I received a funny short narrative entitled, “On Chicken,” in which the amusing student explained just how much he loves to eat chicken. My textbook ballooned to 350 pages by the time I retired.

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