Writing An Opinion Based on Facts From a Text

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SWBAT answer questions about key details in an informational text; SWBAT develop an opinion based on key details in an informational text; SWBAT plan a paragraph that states their opinion and cites evidence to justify their opinion about an informational text.

Big Idea

Today we learn how to start writing opinions by using facts from the story. We are laying the foundation for citing evidence from the story.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

There are several key shifts in the Common Core standards that I wanted to focus on in this lesson.  The first shift is the students be able to respond to their reading through the use of a written work.  You may have heard buzzwords such as "Writing from Sources" and "Writing Across the Curriculum."  I want this lesson to help support students in engaging in frequent opportunities to write about what they are learning.  The second key shift addressed in this lesson is to have students be able to use text evidence to support their thinking.  With biographies, students can easily be able to write down factual information from the text, which usually follows an easier, narrative-type of story line than many informational texts, and then be able to formulate an opinion about certain aspects of the story based on those facts.  This really speaks to showing students how to cite text evidence to support their opinions.  Using biographies also supports another shift towards building students' content knowledge.  Reading different kinds of informational text helps students to learn in different content areas.  I wanted to expand my students knowledge in the area of social studies, and biographies can support this. 

In the guided practice section I am going to be doing quite a bit of modeling to show students how to think critically about a story, and they will have to do the same thing for their independent work. For example, I will be utilizing a story on Abraham Lincoln.  During my think alouds I will show students how to ask and answer questions about the text.

Students will also have to do some inferring in this lesson.  They will have to retell the key facts and details in the text and formulate an opinion based on those facts and details.  Once students write down facts on their fact chart, they will take all those fact into account and formulate their opinion about a question that is posed on their independent work paper.

For today's lesson, you will want to find the text "A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln" by David A. Adler to model with.  The Smartboard Writing Opinions Based on Facts.notebook or Activboard Writing Opinions Based on Facts.flipchart lesson goes along with this particular book.  You also want to group your students ahead of time to work together.  You just want to make sure that two lower achieving students aren't partnered together.  I have question sets for several different biographies that are a perfect reading level for first graders Writing Opinions Based on Facts Student Work.  You can click here if you want to check out the set of books that I will be using for this lesson.  I also have a few biographies from David A. Adler for my students who need a challenge.  However, you may want to use other biographies and will need to make some different question sets.  You will want to copy enough questions sets for your different groups of students as well as enough clue word charts Clue Words for Opinions to help your students use clue vocabulary when writing an opinion.

Guided Practice (We Do)

25 minutes

I called my students to the carpet to sit in front of the Smartboard and I stated today's objective.  I said, "Today we are going to read and think critically about a biography.  We are going to retell key details and think about how all those details fit together so we can form an opinion." Then I said, " Let's talk a little bit more about what a biography is.  A biography is a story about the life of a person. A biography gives us many facts about what happened in the life of that person." Then I told them I was going to model reading a story and model my thinking as I asked myself questions and retold events in the story.  Then once I wrote down my facts I would think about how all those facts and details fit together so I could make an opinion. I said, "Are you ready to help me?"

I read my Abraham Lincoln book to page 3.  Then I read the Smartboard lesson that said to write facts about he and sister went to school.  I did a think aloud.  I said, "First, lets go back into the story and reread the details.  It says ...they walked two miles to school and two miles back.  Now, let me think and ask myself some questions.  Is a mile a long way to walk?  Yes, I think it is. So two miles would be a really far way to walk.  Let's write this fact in our chart. " Then I wrote, Abraham and his sister walked two miles to school and two miles from school.  Then I said, " Is the school day long? Would Abraham and his sister work hard in school all day? Would they be tired at the end of the school day? How would they feel after they had to walk home? If they were tired after one day of walking and going to school why would they want to do this every day?  What must Abraham think of education? "You can see I had to ask a great deal of questions of myself to see how all the details in the story are connected. 

Then I said, " I'm going to write my opinion in the chart. " I wrote Abraham thought education was important. Then I said, "Now I have to write my opinion on the lines in a complete sentence.  I am going to use my chart and start with the key vocabulary."  I wrote - In my opinion Abraham felt education was important.  I said, "We can't stop there.  We have to use our evidence in the story to support our opinion."

I wrote: My evidence is that Abraham walked two miles to and from school every day.  Then he had to work in school.  He must have been tired.  He must think education was important if he kept going each day if he was so tired.

We continued on much the same way with these events:

  • How Abraham helped his family and what kind of worker he must be.
  • What Abraham did with books and what kind of learner he must be.
  • What Abraham saw at the slave market and how he must feel about slavery.
  • What the southern states did after Abraham was elected and why they thought the needed to form their own country.
  • What the country did after Abraham died and how the country must have felt about him.

You can see a portion of this part of the lesson here: Guided Practice With Abraham Lincoln.mp4 .

Then I said, " Now it's your turn.  You are going to ask yourself questions just like I did.  Asking yourself questions will help you arrive at an opinion.  It's time for you to read about someone else and then write your facts, details, and opinions.

Independent Practice With Partners

40 minutes

I told the students which groups they were in and gave them their books and question sets.  I had preplanned groups based on who I thought would work well together and I matched those groups with a story that I knew would challenge them based on reading level.   The students got to work.  They would ask questions about the text and write their facts in their charts.  Then they formulated an opinion and wrote that in the chart.  Finally, they used their charts to start their opinions with clue vocabulary.  They wrote their evidence to support their opinions.

During this time, I walked around the room, helping groups when needed.  If they seemed to be stuck, I would ask questions such as "How do you think that person must have felt?  How do you know? What kind of person do you think they were?  What does the text say to make you think that?  How was this person treated?  How do you think that affected them? " I am getting much better at asking students questions that help lead them to finding the correct answer on their own or in this case to forming their own opinion based on evidence.  It is getting to be later in the school year and I am trying to lead my students to independence in everything they do.  I try to lend support when I can, but at the same time I want my students to take more ownership for their own learning.  As of lately, I've been trying to step back and let my students take the reigns.

You can see a portion of this part of the lesson here: Independent Practice - Writing Opinions Based on Facts.mp4.


5 minutes

I always struggled with closures in my lesson so I found a resource that gave me some great ideas.   I have put that resource for you here in the resource section.  I also found a website of another teacher doing a closure with Summary Sam.  I took that idea and ran with it.

My cat puppet sits behind my red chair in my classroom.  At the end of the lesson I called the students to order.  Then I started meowing under my breath.  I said, "Uh oh.  I hear meowing.  That can only mean one thing. " I brought Sam out and said, "Lazy Sam is sleeping again but wants to know what we just did in our lesson.  Let's summarize our lesson.  We can't tell Sam everything we've done.  We just don't have time.  Let's only tell Sam the most important events."  The students started summarizing.

Then I said, "Why is it important that we write opinions?  Why is it important that we use evidence from the text?"

It was a fun and effective way to end our lesson.  If you seem to think that your closures get a bit stale or just need some inspiration, I've included a resource for you here: Closure Examples.