Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Karen Vocke

Second Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Bush

Third Advisor

Dr. Ellen Brinkley

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Kia J. Richmond


Mentor Texts, Writing instruction, Teacher modeling, Teacher autonomy, Elementary classroom, Stories


In this dissertation, I investigate the way in which mentor texts are defined and implemented by four elementary classroom teachers within one school district, and how this mode of instruction allows for an increase in teacher autonomy while still addressing Common Core State Standards. This project focuses on each participant as they share a common goal in writing instruction while maintaining their teaching identity and curricular freedom.

One goal of this study is to provide the educational theory that supports mentor text instruction that is missing from the movement. Many teaching guides exist that explain the concept of mentor texts, but they do not explore the foundations behind the teaching practice. This study seeks to create this missing foundation to ensure that this practice becomes a permanent part of writing instruction, rather than a passing trend.

The second goal is to provide insight as to how teachers put this theory into practice. The same teaching guides are filled with detailed lesson plans and annotated bibliographies, but they do not examine how to make this practice a permanent part of writing instruction. Instead, they read as disjointed singular lesson ideas. This study also seeks to break down the implementation process so that it is accessible to all teachers. Although the concept of mentor texts is growing in the field of English Education, little has been said about the implementation of the practice into mainstream writing instruction. What are the critical features of a quality mentor text? Do they support Common Core State Standards? How do the criteria of mentor texts differ among lessons, or among teachers? How do students respond to mentor texts as a model of writing? This study examines how teachers are implementing mentor texts into a permanent part of their writing curriculum, how they discern which mentor texts to include, and how they facilitate the instruction with their students.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access