Mentor Text Thursday: Editorials.
This week I thought it would be fun to focus on some mentors of editorials. This genre, which is typical for middle and high school writers, is among my favorite to teach. The primary reason it is my favorite? Because of these outstanding editorialists!
(Note: I try to pull articles that represent both sides of current issues in the world. In this way we can focus on the craft and development of editorials as opposed to the political stances.)
- Penny Kittle introduced me to one of the mentor texts she uses for editorials, “Three Innocent Teenagers Were Killed When a Druken Driver Made a . . . a Deadly Decision.”
- Since then, I have used some of his other works. In fact, one trimester, a group chose The Five People You Meet in Heaven as their literature circle book.
- Here are some of Mitch’s thoughts “On Writing.” It is well worth the read!
Leanard Pitts Jr. — Way back in 2000, during my rookie year of teaching, Katie Wood Ray introduced me to the idea of using mentor texts, and in the same day, shared this editorialist for the Miami Herald as one of her favorites. He has refined the craft of writing editorials. Every time I read his work, I learn more about the craft of this genre. Check out his recent articles, as well as his archives here.
Rick Reilly — I love his poignant articles, as well as his humor. I am always impressed by the way he can be going along in a light-hearted manner and then turn the tables and make a serious point. It’s like a left-hook that comes out of no where, hits you hard, and leaves a mark, forever changing the reader.
Andy Rooney — When my students had trouble writing an ending to their editorials, we turned to Andy Rooney. I would also think there could be possibility for using Andy Rooney as a mentor to turning an editorial into a speech.
Of course, the local newspaper is also an excellent source of editorials. Since many of the issues discussed are community issues, students often have a strong connection. Several years ago there was a series of editorials about building a skate park. Whenever a “Skate Park” article appeared on our board, students hovered around it. They were interested in the issue and happily read the articles. In fact, many submitted editorials to the local paper on this issue.
Which is the other reason this genre is my favorite to teach — often they are easily published outside the classroom walls. Simply submit to the “Letter to the Editor” feature in local newspapers and they are almost always published!
We’d love to hear your favorite mentors of editorials. Please share in the comments!