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Text Structures From the Masters

50 Lessons and Nonfiction Mentor Texts to Help Students Write Their Way In and Read Their Way Out of Every Single Imaginable Genre, Grades 6-10
By: Gretchen Bernabei, Jennifer L. Koppe

Foreword by Tom Newkirk

50 short texts written by famous Americans driven by “an itch” to say something provide students with mentor texts to express their own thoughts.

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Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781506311265
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Series: Corwin Literacy
  • Year: 2016
  • Page Count: 248
  • Publication date: April 05, 2018

Price: $39.95

Price: $39.95
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Gretchen Bernabei asks students to derive possible text structures from examining mentor texts. Instead of that one format students are given—the five-paragraph essay—she gives us fifty, and doesn’t pretend that’s a complete list. She changes the landscape students can work in from one of poverty to one of wonderful excess. She shows us that as writers we are playing a game with lots of moves. —Thomas Newkirk

School writing has nothing to do with my life…If that sounds like your students, then you need this book, because it will prove to your students that writing counts in our world— and always has.

In Text Structures from the Masters, Gretchen Bernabei and Jennifer Koppe provide 50 short texts by famous Americans who put pen to paper driven by what Peter Elbow described as “an itch” to say something. The book includes Sojourner Truth’s Speech (itch: join a heated debate), FDR’s Pearl Harbor message (itch: pick up the pieces), JFK’s inaugural address (itch: give a pep talk) . . . along with 47 more pieces and their explicit purposes.

By examining the structure of these mentor texts, students suddenly see that the itch is something they have in their own lives, too! And the 50 companion lessons invite students to use the text structure of each the famous documents to express that itch.

Each 4-page lesson includes:

  • A planning sheet that reveals the structure of the mentor text, giving students an X-Ray like device for looking at the piece of writing.
  • Brainstorming boxes that invite students to discover their “itchiest” topic
  • A method for “kernelizing” their own essay—making an outline of what they will write using the text structure as a guide.
  • Student examples of both kernel essays and finished pieces.
  • The bonus? Students report the historical document comes to life as they can see textual map that holds it together—and have used that map themselves.

Text Structures from the Masters shows students how writing can help get the work of their lives done. They don’t need to be poised to send someone into the battlefield to have the desire to express something to others—just the itch to say it well.



Gretchen Bernabei photo

Gretchen Bernabei

A popular workshop presenter and winner of NCTE’s James Moffett Award in 2010, Gretchen Bernabei has been teaching kids to write in middle school and high school classrooms for more than thirty years. In addition to four other professional books and numerous articles for NCTE journals, she is the author of National Geographic School Publications’ The Good Writer’s Kit, as well as Lightning in a Bottle, a CD of visual writing prompts.
Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Foreword by Tom Newkirk



Lesson 1

Structure: Stepping Up to a New Role

Source Document: Hippocratic Oath, 400 BCE

Lesson 2

Structure: Can't We Just Get Along?

Source Document: Speech to Captain John Smith, Chief Powhatan, 1609

Lesson 3

Structure: Team Promise

Source Document: Mayflower Compact, 1620

Lesson 4

Structure: Humble Request for Help

Source Document: Plymouth Plantation, 1624

Lesson 5

Structure: No, Thank You

Source Document: Letter to William and Mary College, The Indians of the Six Nations, 1744

Lesson 6

Structure: Lighting a Fire Under a Procrastinator

Source Document: Speech, Patrick Henry, 1775

Lesson 7

Structure: How Bullying Works

Source Document: "Journal of a Lady of Quality," Janet Schaw, 1775

Lesson 8

Structure: Problem-Solution Message

Source Document: Declaration of Independence, 1776

Lesson 9

Structure: Time for a Real Solution

Source Document: Common Sense (Excerpts), Thomas Paine, 1776

Lesson 10

Structure: Letter From Home

Source Document: Letter to Her Husband John Adams, Abigail Adams, 1776

Lesson 11

Structure: How Bad Is It? (A Description)

Source Document: Letter to George Washington, Benjamin Rush, 1777

Lesson 12

Structure: Reprimanding a Group

Source Document: Speech to Angry Officers, General George Washington, 1783

Lesson 13

Structure: Purposes of an Action

Source Document: Preamble to the Constitution, 1787

Lesson 14

Structure: Charm Check

Source Document: "The Star Spangled Banner," Francis Scott Key, 1814

Lesson 15

Structure: S.O.S.

Source Document: "Victory or Death" Letter From the Alamo, William B. Travis, 1836

Lesson 16

Structure: Sightseeing

Source Document: "Observations on a Steamboat Between Pittsburg and Cincinnati," American Notes, Charles Dickens, 1842

Lesson 17

Structure: Tour of an Unfamiliar Place

Source Document: "Factory Life," Labor Reformer, 1846

Lesson 18

Structure: Breaking Into a Heated Argument

Source Document: "Ain't I a Woman?" Speech, Sojourner Truth, 1851

Lesson 19

Structure: Controversial Decision

Source Document: Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln, 1862

Lesson 20

Structure: At the Moment of a Milestone

Source Document: Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln, 1863

Lesson 21

Structure: We're Both Wrong; We're Both Right

Source Document: Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln, 1865

Lesson 22

Structure: Letter to an Author

Source Document: Letter to Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, 1868

Lesson 23

Structure: Fighting Unfairness With Logic

Source Document: “Women’s Rights to the Suffrage" Speech, Susan B. Anthony, 1873

Lesson 24

Structure: Valuable Advice

Source Document: "Advice to Youth" Speech, Mark Twain, 1882

Lesson 25

Structure: Comforting a Friend in Pain

Source Document: Letter to a Friend, Henry James, 1883

Lesson 26

Structure: I Want More (While I Have the Chance)

Source Document: Letter to Professor Baird, William G. Hornaday

Lesson 27

Structure: First Earnings

Source Document: Hard Times Cotton Mill Girls (Excerpt), Bertha Miller, b. 1890

Lesson 28

Structure: My Symbol

Source Document: The Pledge of Allegiance, 1892

Lesson 29

Structure: Narrative: Just the Facts

Source Document: On Lynchings (Excerpt), Ida B. Wells-Barnett, 1895

Lesson 30

Structure: Letter of Recommendation

Source Document: Letter to Jessie Gladden, Clara Barton, 1898

Lesson 31

Structure: Why Something Goes Viral

Source Document: "A Modern Day Devil Baby" (American Journal of Sociology, 20(1), (117–118), Jane Addams, 1914

Lesson 32

Structure: Understanding the Scars of Our Elders

Source Document: "Remembering Slavery" (Excerpt), Tonea Stewart, 1930

Lesson 33

Structure: Objects of Affection

Source Document: "The Pleasure of Books," William Lyon Phelps, 1933

Lesson 34

Structure: True or False? Neither

Source Document: Letter From Phyllis, Albert Einstein, 1936

Lesson 35

Structure: How an Experience Changed Me

Source Document: It's a Great Life, Robert L. Miller, 1937

Lesson 36

Structure: A Bad Situation a Lot of Us Are In

Source Document: "I'd Rather Not Be on Relief," Lester Hunter Song, 1938

Lesson 37

Structure: Picking Up the Pieces

Source Document: Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1941

Lesson 38

Structure: Heads Up From Your Wingman

Source Document: Letter to Her Husband, Eleanor Rooseevelt, circa WWII

Lesson 39

Structure: What Do I Mean? Well . . .

Source Document: "I Love You" Letter, Ayn Rand, 1948

Lesson 40

Structure: My Advice About Your Strong Feeling

Source Document: Letter to His Son Thom, John Steinbeck, 1958

Lesson 41

Structure: Pep Talk

Source Document: Inaugural Address, John F. Kennedy, 1961

Lesson 42

Structure: Memory Reflection

Source Document: Black Like Me (Excerpt), John Howard Griffin, 1961

Lesson 43

Structure: Parting Advice to Your Replacement

Source Document: "Duty, Honor, Country," General Douglas MacArthur, 1962

Lesson 44

Structure: Bon Voyage

Source Document: Letter to His Astronaut Son, Scott Carpenter, 1962

Lesson 45

Structure: I Feel Your Pain

Source Document: "Ich bin ein Berliner" Speech, John F. Kennedy, 1963

Lesson 46

Structure: Flashpoint Moment of Truth

Source Document: "And We Shall Overcome" Special Message to Congress (Excerpt), Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965

Lesson 47

Structure: Walking the Walk to Make a Difference

Source Document: "Lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," Cesar Chavez, 1990

Lesson 48

Structure: Using a Story to Make a Point

Source Document: Nobel Lecture (Abridged), Toni Morrison, 1993

Lesson 49

Structure: New Perspectives From a Photo

Source Document: "Pale Blue Dot" Speech, Carl Sagan, 1996

Lesson 50

Structure: So You'll Know Me After I'm Gone

Source Document: Letter to My Sons (Preface), Lieutenant Colonel Mark Weber, 2012


1. Complete Collection of 50 Text Structures

2. Text Structures Useful as Promises to Others

3. Text Structures of Our Identity

4. Text Structures for Travel

5. Text Structures for Important Moments

6. Text Structures for Desperation

7. Text Structures Useful as Persuasion About Some Needed Change

8. Text Structures Useful for Bad Times

9. Text Structures for Times of Conflict

10. More Ways to Use the Lessons in an English Language Arts Classroom

11. More Ways to Use the Lessons for Academic Play in a Social Studies or History Classroom

12. Character Project Assignment and Tracking Sheet



Price: $39.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.

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