Friday, July 12, 2013

I Like to Prove It, Prove It!

Opinion writing is one of my favorite types of writing to teach each year.  When students get choice in what they are writing about and have to prove their stance, this high student engagement results in high quality AND quantity of writing.

To introduce opinion writing, I like to use the topic of "The Best Pet." This seems to be a great topic for all kids even if they don't actually have a pet at home. And I have to say, I have learned about some interesting pets over the years as well (Have you ever heard of a degu? I know all about one now thanks to a very convincing paper from one of my third graders about why the DEGU is the best pet!).

It is also important to give students a framework for how to express their opinion. We use the phrase, "Prove it!" a lot in class. For example, if you say a dog is the best pet because it is playful, well prove it! What does the dog do that shows it is playful? You say a fish is the best pet because it is quiet, go ahead and prove it. Why is it useful that a fish is quiet? (ahem, homework time?)  This is where the OREO graphic organizer comes in handy. It guides students into proving their opinion with reasons and then proving their reasons with specific evidence. Of course I have to bring in actual Oreos the day I introduce this graphic organizer, but truthfully, the Oreos not only satisfy my students' sweet tooth but also make the lesson very memorable so that it sticks in their schema for opinion writing. Check out the OREO graphic organizer I created below.

Once students are chomping at the bit to tell you why their chosen pet is the best pet, this is the perfect time to introduce transition words if you have not already done so.

Your students will be off and running in no time! If you are interested in the materials I created for this Common Core State Standard aligned 3 week writing unit for grades 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, click on the picture below to be taken to the product at my store.

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