Common Core Connection and Introduction
The Common Core Standard is W.1.1 and it says that the students need to be able to write and opinion piece where they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about; state an opinion, supply reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure. This is a fun lesson because it is so relevant. We just had a new lunchroom manager take over and the Federal Regulations on the lunch items changed. So, the students have been focused on the lunch issues because the things they are used to eating in sack are no longer available. This issue is close to my heart too because I can't eat my peanut butter sandwich everyday. I have to pack my lunch.
I show this lesson image to my class to get them thinking about the lunchroom. It is a nice activating strategy for students to start thinking about the topic. At this time we are seated in the lounge beside their peanut butter jelly partner (Peanut Butter Jelly Partner). For the guided practice we move (Transitions) to the desks which are in a group seating of 4 or 6. Then we move to the center tables for extended writing. Last, we move back to the lounge for the student reflection and closing. I believe that first graders need to move at least every twenty minutes. So, I plan for these transitions. Most of the time I make the students chant the lesson goal three times as they move. This engages the students and makes them remember the focus of the lesson.
I like to incorporate technology in every lesson. I project the image of the lunch ladies on the Promethean Board and students discuss how they feel about the lunch. I allow students to share their opinion. I share that we have been writing opinion pieces and we will continue to write an opinion piece today. We are going to write about our opinion of the new menu. Students chant, I can write a letter expressing my opinion.
Volunteers tell me what to write as I add the date and greeting. I ask for volunteers to explain why we capitalize the words in the greeting and why we use the comma. Then students discuss with their peanut butter jelly partner what the introductory or topic sentence should say. These are heterogeneous ability group partners of two. I assign them and often use them to organize collaboration in my classroom. Sometimes I say peanut butter tell jelly and vice verse. I have an idea in my head so I can lead them to a nice introduction. I remind the class that we must introduce our topic in the first sentence.
Then students discuss three reasons that support the opinion. The students that volunteer to share have to give me a reason. I say, "Why should the ladies do what you want. Defend your opinion. Is your idea healthier?" I am scaffolding the instruction by rewording the question and giving a possible opinion or reason. Then we have a class discussion about what I should write and add the final decision to the board (Board Work). I model writing and I discuss punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure as I write. I believe that grammar should be taught in context.
I remind my class that we have studied writing a closing sentence in previous lessons. Then students discuss their closing. I ask them to explain why they think this is a good closing. "The closing should restate the topic sentence. It may even restate what the details said in one sentence." Then I encourage somebody to add to that. I am trying to encourage discourse among my students.
Last, I ask a volunteer to tell me what comes next in the letter. I add the closing and signature, but I make the students tell me how to write the letters that are capital and to add the comma. I say what comes next, am I missing something, or is this correct.
Students are given a piece of paper and have to write their own letter. I do create a checklist that I put on the board to help the students remember what to include. I walk around and assist students. Many first graders do not write well so I offer support by writing in a highlighter what they want to say and letting the students trace my handwriting.
Students move to the center tables and read their work to their group members. The members give oral feedback based on the contents that are supposed to be included. I have the checklist (Rubric) on the board. After they give each other feedback they are given the rest of the time to make changes to their work. I walk around and add my two cents to what they are saying. I have to watch myself, because I often but in when they have already discussed what I mention. With the new Common Core Standards, especially in this section, I am finding that I am more of a facilitator, and I need to give my students more freedom and allow them to discover things on their own. Because, they are actually doing this and I am interrupting.
Students move back to the lounge and work on their speaking and listening skills. This is their favorite time of day when they get everyone's attention and get to present (Basic Work Presentation) their work. I allow two or three students to present depending on time. I give feedback and I ask my students to give feedback to their peers. Evaluation is a higher order thinking skill and I model this to develop the skill. In addition, students learn what is great about their peers work and what they need to work on.
We remain on the lounge. Students tell on person what they learned today and I listen closely so I can share. I ask other students to add to what their peers say. I am teaching my students how to have a conversation about their learning.
I explain that we will continue to write opinion pieces. I ask the students to say, I can write an opinion letter. They echo, tell a friend, and say it with me.