It is important to teach students the difference between facts and opinions. I feel that this is the ground work for getting students to think critically when analyzing a piece of text. We are also going to be writing opinion pieces in the next few months, so this lesson will help to lay the foundation for our opinion writing.
During this lesson, students will also participate in partner talk to help them develop their oral language skills. Oral language impacts both reading comprehension and writing so I try to have my students practice speaking and listening to a partner as much as possible.
For this lesson you will need the book "It Looked Like Spilt Milk" by Charles Shaw. I chose this book because I believe that most students have had the experience of looking up in the sky and a friend what they think a cloud looks like so they would easily be able to state an opinion of what they think each cloud in the book looks like. You want to download the Smartboard Facts and Opinions About Clouds.notebook or Activboard Facts and Opinions About Clouds.flipchart lesson called "Facts and Opinions." You will also want to make a copy of the "Clue Words For Opinions" Clue Words for Opinions and "Cloud Opinion Writing" Cloud Opinion Writing for each of your students.
Before the lesson started, I partnered students up, gave them the clue words for opinion paper, and had them sit next to each other on the carpet. I said, "Today we are going to learn about opinions. An opinion is a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on facts. Sometimes people will disagree about opinions." I had my Smartboard lesson up and had the same copy of the clue words paper projected on the board. I said, "When someone states and opinion, they usually will start their sentence with some clue words. Let's read some of these clue words now." Once the students understood these clue words identified an opinion, we were ready to start reading our story.
Before I started reading, I said, "Partners, we are going to take turns when we speak. Decide right now who will be Person 1 and who will be Person 2." I wanted to make sure we were addressing the speaking and listening standards by taking turns and listening to each other. I started to read the book and I would omit the word of the cloud shape. Then I said, "Person 1, pick a clue word from your clue word paper and tell your partner what you think this cloud looks like and the reasons why you think that." I don't want my students to make generic opinions such as "I think that cloud looks like a dog." If you look back on the W1.1 standard it states that students need to "... supply a reason for the opinion." During the independent practice part of the lesson they will need to state an opinion and supply reasons in their written argument, so it's best that we start practicing this skill orally first.
I continued to read the next page, omitting the name of the shape and said, "Person 2, now it's your turn: turn to your partner, tell them what you think this next cloud looks like, and tell them the reasons why."
After partners had taken a few turns, I stopped them and wanted to point out the language they were using. I said, "I noticed that several of you used a very important word after you had stated your opinion and before you gave your reasons why. Does anyone know what that important word might be?" I really wanted my students to become aware of and use the word "because" so they knew that this would be the beginning part of their justification. I made sure that I pointed this out because it is going to be an important aspect of each of the student's written work in the independent practice section.
You can see how my students did discussing their opinions in the video here: Discussing Cloud Opinions.mp4. Notice some of their hand gestures. I would have to say they were engaged!
After our guided practice, I was confident the students could identify and state opinions using clue words. I wanted to check their understanding and see if they could write and opinion and justify their thinking. It was time for our independent practice.
I had made 10 different practice papers for my class with the intention that students would each get a different paper from someone sitting at their same table. This insured that no "copying from their friends" occurred. I passed out papers to the students and said, "You are to be silent during this part of the lesson. I want to know your opinion and why you think what you do. You won't be able to do that if you share ideas with a friend. You are going to look at your cloud picture. Then you'll use your clue words paper and write an opinion using your clue words of what you think your cloud looks like. Then you will have to justify, or give me reasons why you think what you do."
I wanted to connect today's learning to previous lessons so I said, "Do you remember when we did our nonfiction text features lesson on labels?" You can even label the parts of your picture when you are giving me reasons for why you think what you do." Then my students got to work. I circulated around the room, making sure no one shared ideas. When a student didn't use a clue word or didn't justify their thinking, I would try to use my questioning strategies with them. I would say, " What shows me in your writing that what you wrote is an opinion? What have you written that shows me your reasons for your opinion?" I wanted my students to be cognizant of their own learning and how they can fix their own mistakes.
See how my students did by watching the video here: Writing Cloud Opinions.mp4.
If you've seen my lessons before, you know that I like the closure part of my lessons to be short and sweet. I have a Facebook poster that one of my teacher aides made for my class. I passed out a post it note to each student so they could "post" what we had learned that day. I said, "I want you to write why you think it is important that we learn how to identify and write opinions. Post it on our Facebook Wall when you are done."
Then I read some of the posts for why they thought learning about opinions was important. This gives me good information about what my students took away from the lesson and how well I stated the objective.
Some of my student's answers are posted here in this video: Facebook Posts Cloud Opinion Writing.mp4.