Kids Need Mentors

Cassie Thomas – WSE
5th Grade Reading & Writing



“I want my students to know that they can be writers of amazing stories, they can be illustrators of the next best graphic novel, they can be authors and illustrators if their hearts desire.” – Cassie Thomas

At some point in your life you have probably had a mentor.  Maybe it was your Dad when you were a small child, a favorite teacher in school, a colleague, or a friend.   Whomever it was, it was someone that you learned from, received advice from, and turned to for help. Everyone needs a mentor at some point in their life, especially kids.  Cassie Thomas, 5th grade Reading and Writing teacher at Walnut Springs Elementary, believes this as well. She believes in this so much that she has brought a mentor into her classroom and into her students lives. At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, Ms. Thomas decided to sign her class up to be a part of the movement #KidsNeedMentors.  She was introduced to this movement through her friend Kristen Picone, an educator from Long Island, NY whom she connected with through her Personal Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter. The goal of #KidsNeedMentors is simple, pair a classroom of students with an author to learn from and collaborate with. Ms. Thomas’ class was paired with Melanie Sumrow, author of The Prophet Calls, which will come out November 6th.  Ms. Thomas and her students will have the opportunity throughout the 2018-2019 school year to ask specific questions and work hand-in-hand with Ms. Sumrow to grow their writing.  Not only do they ask questions and get advice from Ms. Sumrow they also receive care packages. At the beginning of the year they received a box of books by Texas authors for their classroom library.  Students were so excited to receive these books for their classroom and are looking forward to receiving Ms. Sumrow’s book when it comes out. During the year, the class will be using Flipgrid to ask questions and get responses from Ms. Sumrow and other authors who want to respond.  Students have already started to pose questions and are receiving responses from Ms. Sumrow and others via Flipgrid.

Some specific questions that have been asked are:
How do you get your ideas and get them down on paper?
What do you do when you are out of ideas?
How do you stay focused during your writing?
How do you get to know your characters?

Not only are students hearing from Ms. Sumrow via Flipgrid they have also had opportunities during class to Skype with her and other authors. During their Skype sessions students are able to get immediate feedback and advice from the author they are talking with. By participating in #KidsNeedMentors, Ms. Thomas’ students are getting to see, hear, and learn first hand what goes into being an author and are able to apply what they are learning to their own writing.

“I think it’s really cool to talk to a real author because you get to talk with an author who wrote real books.  It’s cool to ask them questions to get help for your own story.”

Addison, 5th Grade

“I love getting to talk to authors because it gives me faith that I can take something super small and make it really big like your own book.  It’s great to get their perspective and hear what they go through and what it took to write their own book.  It’s really cool to share our stories too so that we can get advice.”

Effie, 5th Grade

“It feels good to talk with authors because I’m able to share my ideas and get help on my story.”

Ethan K., 5th Grade