Being a Reading and Writing classroom, we enjoyed using mentor text in our writing. Every year we would study certain authors. They were authors that would touch the lives of my second graders. We did author studies starting with the first day of school and by the end of the year, each student had their own author that became their personal mentor.
On Day One of the school year, we would read Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. That began a study of our own names, where they came from and why we were given our names. The rest of that month we would study Kevin Henkes. I would do a read aloud and we would discuss the traits of writing and if the author was also the illustrator, we would talk about those traits, too. We would then chart what we discovered. We called the chart: The Fingerprints of______. Each day they would write a response to the read aloud book. During Independent Reading time, they would also read books by that author. At the end of the month we would do an activity where they would name a title of one of the author's books and then prove how we knew it was his book. These second grade writers would then write like the author....standing on the shoulders of the author, as Katie Wood Ray says.
Each month we studied another author. Some of the authors we used were: Patricia Pollacco, Cynthia Rylant, and Tomie dePaolo. At the end of the year, each student had their own fingerprints which we could also pick out because we knew each other as authors so well.
I think this was a favorite part of Douglasville, the name of our second grade classroom, for me!