Mentor Texts for each investigation offer students examples of disciplinary argument writing. The example in each investigation is a model of the type of writing the investigation calls for, but the topic and focus are different from the investigation's topic and focus. This offers students an opportunity to review and consider the overall structure of the writing, but does not bias them toward any particular claim in their own writing.
For example, in the Ancient Inca investigation, students prepare to write the Field Museum about which sources to include in their exhibit to explain how the Inca maintained control over such a large empire. To support students' writing without providing an exact model of what they will write, the Mentor Text for this investigation is a letter to curators of an exhibit about the American Revolution that makes an argument for including particular sources in their exhibit. This Mentor Text has a similar audience, purpose, and structure, but leaves the intellectual work of constructing an argument about the Inca to students.
Mentor Texts can be used to have students identify the components of an Interpretation argument (claim, evidence, reasoning) and to explore the ways the author of the Mentor Text uses language to create a coherent argument. This is typically done as students review the writing assignment in depth on Day 4 (after an initial review on Day 1 to set a purpose for the investigation) and before students begin to plan and draft their own arguments. This activity enables students to focus on the overall structure of the texts they will write and models effective ways of stating claims, introducing evidence, and reasoning about evidence.
Sample Mentor Text from Interpretation, Investigation #3