Today, to start our lesson, I meet my students on the carpet. I say, “Third graders, I want to tell you a story!” This always gets all of the students’ attention! I begin to tell the students a story about how at over the weekend, I was having a debate with some friends about who was the best musician or singer right now. I tell the students that the first friend said that a band he likes is the best, but he didn’t give any reasons to support why. Then, the second friend said that one the bands she likes is the best because they have already made over three different albums and they’ve only been around for a year! Then a third friend said that a musician she likes is the best because they have lots of years of experience in the music industry and also she thinks their music is fun to dance to! Then I lean in and ask the students: “Boys and girls, take a minute and talk to your neighbor to decide-who had the best argument?”
I give the students a minute or two to discuss their ideas with their classmates, and then I call the class back together (using the “If You Can Hear My Voice…” strategy! See my strategy folder for more information on this strategy!). I ask the students to tell me what they think of each argument. I say, “How about my first friend’s argument?” The kids say that he didn’t say why his band was the best! I confirm for the kids that this is correct! We can’t just choose a band-we should have evidence and our own personal reasons to support our opinions, and my first friend doesn’t have either of those!
Then I say, “Okay, how about my second friend?” One of the students offers that this was better! I agree and say that yes, her argument does have some evidence (ie: the band has already produced three albums in one year), but I ask, “Does she include her own personal reasons?” The students say no, she doesn’t. I tell the kids that they are so smart because in order to have a strong opinion, we should have both evidence and our own personal reasons to back it up!
So now I move to the third friend and ask about their argument! The students say this argument is much better! Again, I confirm for the kids that they are absolutely right and point out that this argument had both evidence (ie: the musician had lots of years of experience in the music industry) and personal reasons, too (ie: she thinks their music is fun to dance to!). This is a great way to support her opinion!
To label this learning, I say, “Boys and girls-see how important it is to have both evidence and personal reasons when supporting your opinions? Let’s keep this in mind today as we work on our opinion writing pieces!”
I ask our students to head back to their seats and to pull out our opinion writing packets that we started yesterday. Then, I remind the students that yesterday, I asked them to think about their opinion writing choices critically. I remind the students that today, we’re going to select one of the three people we jotted some ideas about yesterday, but the one person we are going to choose must be someone we have enough evidence and personal reasons to support! I ask the students to read over their three choices and look at their evidence and personal reasons carefully! When they’ve got their one choice, they can write that person’s name on the Opinion Writing Graphic Organizer page!
Once students have selected their one person, I tell the students that it’s time to get planning our writing! Just like an architect puts together a blueprint before building a home, we need to put together a plan before starting our writing! We go through each part of the graphic organizer, as I model and students make their notes. We start with the introduction paragraph. Then we move on to our two support paragraphs. When we’re working on these, I have the students choose their TWO best piece of evidence and reasons here from their planning sheet (from the lesson before). They originally had three reasons, but I want the students to choose those they feel are the strongest support, so they choose their two “best” pieces of evidence and reasons! Then we move on to the closing paragraph. By the time we’re done, all four components (and transition word spots) are complete and are ready for drafting!
At the end of our lesson today, I tell the kids that they have some amazing “blueprints” of opinion pieces here! I ask them to pack up their work for today so that tomorrow, we can begin putting together our rough drafts! These opinion writing pieces are going to be amazing!