photo of teacherLiving the Life of a Reader and Writer

, Barrett Elementary
Morgan Hill, CA

Setting Norms: Rituals and Routines to support the Workshop Approach Readers and Writers Workshop Touchstone Texts: Revisiting Favorite Books for New Lessons

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Teaching Touchstone Texts

A touchstone book is a book that I’ve read out loud to the kids, that I’ve used to specifically teach a writing craft move.  So for example, I really enjoy the book Short Cut, by Donald Crews. So with Short Cut,  I might use it one day for a good lead, or on another day I might come back to it and say, “Remember Short Cut?  We’re going to re-read it.  Hm, I’m noticing all the descriptive words Donald Crews uses for the setting.” And then we talk about it, and then they go back in their writing and they try to add descriptive words for their setting. It’s a book that you use over and over again for different craft elements within the genre study.  Some of my writers workshop books carry over into my readers workshop, so I intermingle the two.

Myers reads "Strega Nona" (Tomie de Paola) and alerts students to be looking for text-to-text connections.
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In the book Wondrous Words by Katie Wood Ray, she has a chapter called, “Books I know and Love.” And she has this huge list in there.  So teachers can say, “I use this book, but it’s also one that I love too-- One that I’ve become so comfortable with, I know, this is one that I want to use to convey, this mini-lesson to my kids."  My coworkers in second grade will say, “I love this book”  and I might try that one, and it might not work well for me. 

Touchstone and Mentor texts really help teach the mini-lesson. They are extremely critical. We talk about how sometimes, our touchstone texts, we re-read them, and we use them for different mini-lessons. It really helps because all of the kids become familiar, and they get to know the book very well, or a few books very well. I always leave them out, I have a bookshelf for the Touchstones, and I tell them, “Go back! Re-read the book! If that helps jog your memory, if it helps you, please feel free to use it.”


This page will be updated during 2005-2006 with examples of how I revisit certain touchstone and/ or mentor texts in my classroom.






Site last updated November 3, 2005