One Two of my favorite craft lessons to teach in writing are Leads and Endings.  The lead of a story is what captures our readers’ attention, piques their interest, and invites them to read more.  The end of a story closes the door, gives a sense of closure to the story as a whole, and leaves the reader a little bit smarter, compassionate, or simply entertained.  I have learned from some of the best mentors in the world, the power of two key things when teaching Leads and Endings:

1) Use a Mentor Text– It is this simple. Go pick up any book you love.  Read the beginning, read the ending.  Name what the writer did.  Try it in your own writing.

sandwich swap

{The picture above is a link to Amazon if you are interested in finding out more!}

2) Writing the Leads and Endings side by side.-  This is not ALWAYS necessary, but it is highly effective.  It is especially helpful for students who have difficulty with structure in their writing.  A really good example of this is with the book, The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania Al Abdullah.  The lead and ending are matchy-matchy so it gives a wonderful structure for students to play around with.

LEAD: “It all began with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…

… and it ended with a hummus and pita sandwich.”

ENDING: “And that’s how it all began with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…

…and ended with a hummus and pita sandwich.”

This structure is a tool for students to lift and try in their own writing.  For example.  “It all began with a trip to the beach…and ended with a box of treasures.”  As a reader, you want to know what happens in the middle? You’ve got the beginning and ending, so what’s the story?

Below you can see how I have my students set up their notebooks to try leads and endings side by side. I learned this strategy from two glorious summers at Writers Camp at the Poynter Institute here in St. Petersburg, Florida.   I like to say- Everything I learned about writing, I learned at Poynter.   That is a whole other post because I have to give credit where credit is due! 🙂

Back to the Leads and Endings in their notebook, I use post-its to the text we used that the structure came from.

Leads SidebySide

One of my current projects is gathering and organizing the mentor texts that I use ALL THE TIME and have some quick go-to charts for my students in the writing center and/or in their notebook.  I have started this process in my Narrative, Opinion, and Newspaper Article Writing Units.  It is so nice to have these charts in students’ writing notebooks.  This is so helpful for students to have charts at their fingertips, especially your strugglers or the kids who lack confidence-which can be the biggest hindrance for students.  So, I’ll leave you with pictures of the charts and some mentor texts for you! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!


-Jessica 🙂

Types of LeadsEffective Endings

Mentor Texts for Narrative Writing