Teaching Strong Conclusions using a Mentor Text

Today I'm sharing a quick post about using a Mentor Text when teaching Conclusions.  As a sixth grade teacher, I often am balancing the line between Lucy Calkins and Nancy Atwell in my writing program.  We sometimes fit in one place, and at other times are better fit for the other.  When I begin to teach strong conclusion writing with my students, I start with the easiest type first:  Echos.  I teach students to paraphrase what we have done with our lead paragraphs.  A simple mentor text to teach this is The Outsiders by SE Hinton.

The beginning and ending of The Outsiders shows how the book comes full circle all based on this powerful line:
"When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had two things on my mind:  Paul Newman, and a ride home..."  

When I use this book, I also continue to read the first paragraph which helps to make the connection to the echo at the end. I do not read the entire book as it is not really appropriate for the 11 year olds that I teach, but it does show a simple purpose, and it makes the kids feel a little more grown up.  

What books do you use to teach strong conclusions? Share with me a comment or two below so I can add to my book collection, and stop over to visit the Collaboration Cuties for more ideas of Mentor Texts for Language Arts.  Enjoy your Sunday!


  1. I remember loving that book in high school...but I haven't thought about it because I knew it's topics were too heavy for my 4th graders. I love the idea of sharing the very last line, with the beginning.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  2. I loved reading the outsiders and I think I identified with it so much because I wanted to become a writer and SE Hinton wrote The Outsiders when she was only a teenager!

    Fourth Grade Lemonade

  3. Thanks for the idea of using this book for echos! Great idea!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  4. I love that you share parts of a more mature texts. Great idea.
    Creating Lifelong Learners
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  5. I hadn't thought to use this book either...but I love how you do use it! Conclusions is definitely something I need to work on. I didn't even realize it was called echoes...maybe I need to learn more about that from you!

    We are using Lucy Calkins this year...it was her idea to start with realistic fiction. :O)
    Collaboration Cuties

  6. Several of my students read this book 2 years ago! It seemed to be really popular with a handful of my boys. Still on my list.
    Fabulous Fifth Grade Fun

  7. I loved this book when I read it and my daughter just read it last year and loves it too. What a great way to teach a writing skill. I wonder how many of your students have since read the book because of the way you used it!


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