[Mentor Text Monday] The New Culture Club

Okay, not really. The old Culture Club was enough to tide us over for a few more decades at least. Admittedly, I did just scour Culture Club lyrics for something witty. There may be a Culture Club mentor text coming soon.

For today, I want to thank one of my amazing siblings for this mentor text from OpenCulture.com.

OpenCulture’s Twitter Bio describes it most succinctly:

The site itself is mind-boggling and will require much more of time to explore thoroughly. I may have found a third favorite source (UPPERCASE Magazine and WIRED Magazine being numbers one and two). Expect to hear enough about this site to become bored and eye-rolly.

From an array of options so huge I cannot even rest my thoughts, I have chosen this article and video as my mentor text for today.

Forrest Gump Directed by Wes Anderson

What I imagine here is a mentor text for a book or film trailer, or a summary of an historical even to science topic. Because this is a specific “wes-andersonian” style, I’d have to decide if I was going to dive into both the trailer and the style, or focus on one or the other.

I’m fascinated by the way an entire movie can be portrayed using text and simple images–I see some great summary or synthesizing practice here. Picking out only the points that are most important, and then distill them down to text and one or two images.

I’m equally fascinated by Wes Anderson’s film style or, more to the point,  the concept of having an artistic style. How is a style developed. Students can examine the styles of favorite authors–create a book trailer that honors the style of the author. Students can examine their own style. How is style developed?  Can style change? Is your writing so very “you” that someone could try to mimic it?  I might segue into the figurative language concept of a synedoche during this discussion as well. Such infinite possibilities.

In my own planning, I start with a text or texts that strike my fancy, and then work to plan using the Common Core State Standards. I teach lessons in a variety of classrooms, and in this case I am planning something for 4-6th grade 1:1 technology classrooms. This video has so many options running through my head, that it was tough to narrow it down to one or two standards.

At first, I chose:


Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

After reading the standard as it progressed through the grades, I realized that this was not my most effective focus. In grade K-5, this standard lends itself to a more specific focus on word usage and connotation than I want to do with this text. 

So I changed my focus to:


Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.

I always use a writing standard as well, and will be focusing on:


Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

I read through each grade level of each standard to make sure I understood the intent and the progression. Click here for a documents showing the progression CCR.R.4 and CCR.W.4.

This post is getting long. I will post my next planning steps later this week!

While I’m at it, is this video something you could use in your classroom? Is there something else on OpenCulture.com you might be able to use? What Common Core Standards might you use?

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