Recently, my student have read a lot of informational texts about various important people from the turn of the century. Today, to start the lesson, I tell the students that they have learned so much, and now, it’s time for a challenge: to choose (and defend) whom they feel is the MOST creative, inventive, or notable person of the turn of the century! Instantly hands go up, but before the students start to share their ideas, I want the students to be reflective in who and why they’re making the choices they are, so to get them stared, I share a video I’ve made for them using PowToon!
Once students have watched the video, I take a minute to discuss with the students who they may be thinking of as their choice. However, I set some parameters-in order for the students to share their ideas, they must first tell us who they’re thinking of choosing, but they must also include a reason that they found from out reading! (I want them thinking about citing their evidence already!)
After students share out their ideas, I want to show them that they are already working on the standard and doing a great job! I tell them that they are doing an awesome job of sharing their opinions and supporting their view with reasons that are based on facts and details from what we’ve previously read! This is awesome, and now it’s time to start writing some of these ideas down!
Before we start writing down our ideas, I say to the students, “Are any of you thinking of MORE than one person? For example, are you thinking that one person might be a good choice, but you also think someone else might be a good choice?” A few students nod their heads at me with puzzled “How are we going to choose?” looks! I say, “Well, don’t worry third graders! Thinking about all your options and then choosing your best option is a great way to plan for opinion writing, so that’s just what we’ll do today!”
At this point, I pass out a small packet that includes three sheets:
1. "Opinion Writing Choices Sheet" (This sheet shows all the possibilities we can choose from since these are the people we’ve read about and studied.)
2. "Opinion Writing Planning Sheet" (This sheet is where students will jot down their ideas and gear up for them most substantial and supportive opinion writing.)
3. "Opinion Writing Graphic Organizer" (This sheet will be used in our next lesson, not today, but this way-everything is all together!)
(See all of these sheets in the "Resources" section here!)
We start by looking at our “Opinion Writing Choices Sheet”! Here students can see pictures of all the important people we’ve read about from the turn of the century. I ask the students to choose three people that they think they might want to write about. As the students make their choices, I circulate around the room and keep my eye out for anyone that may not be circling or looks confused, torn, etc. When I find these students, I stop and have a short conversation with them, helping them reason out who they’d have the most evidence for based on our reading!
Once students have their three choices, I ask them to turn the page in their packets and to take a look at the opinion writing planning sheet. On this page, I have the students write the three names of the people they’ve selected, and then under each person, I ask them to write three facts they’ve learned about these people from their reading, or three text evidences. Once the students have their three pieces of evidence, to the right of each evidence, I ask the students to tell me why, in their own words, this evidence shows that this person is the most creative, inventive, or notable. Again, I let the students think and write, circulating to help support and guide any struggling students.
To close today, I want to let students share their thinking of the three choices they’re contemplating, so I ask if anyone would like to share their three choices and the evidence and reasons they’re thinking of using to support their choice. I let the students share, and tell the students that tomorrow we will come back to this writing. BUT, before we wrap it up, I give the students one important task! I lean in and say to the third graders: “Boys and girls, over the rest of the day and tonight, I want you to think about your three choices. I want you to see if you can choose ONE person that you think you have the MOST evidence and the BEST reasons for to use in your writing! Tomorrow when we come back to our writing, I want you to have made a decision and share with me who is the one person you’re going to write about!” And then we pack up for today and prepare for tomorrow when we can look at our evidence and reasons with fresh eyes! This will be important in choosing the stance with the most valid and substantive evidence!