I have noticed while reading summaries and informative essays written by the students, that many students have a hard time separating opinion from the written information in the text. We have written many opinion papers and persuasive papers where the students have been asked to use their opinion and support their opinion with facts. However, when the students are asked to write a summary of the text or an informational piece, they often include their own opinion statements where only information gathered from the text should be present.
In the previous lesson, we learned about the differences between fact and opinion and practiced identifying both fact and opinion in text. In this lesson, we will read a text that is likely to invoke an opinion from the students. We will then write an informative essay while trying to keep our opinions separate from the information we are reporting.
To begin this lesson, we will review fact vs. opinion with the following song:
In this next section of the lesson, will be reading an article from the Time for Kids website entitled, "Need Milk?" by Kyla Oliver. This article explains that the PCRM is asking the government to remove milk from the school lunch menu. Their studies have found that milk may not be the best source of calcium. The reason I chose this article, is because I know the article will cause the reader to form an opinion about whether or not milk should be taken from the school lunch menu. We will read the article together as a class. As we read, I will ask the students to highlight information that would be important to include in an informative essay. When we finish reading the article, I will ask the students how many of them have an opinion about whether or not milk should be taken from our school lunch menu. I will try to make it clear that it's okay to form an opinion after reading. However, when writing an informative piece, we simply need to keep that opinion out of the writing.
Oliver, K. (2012). Need Milk?. Time for Kids. Retrieved April 23, 2014, from http://www.timeforkids.com/news/need-milk/42511
Our school has focused on the Four Square Writing Method this year. If you have not heard of it, I would highly encourage you to check it out. The reason we have focused so closely on this method, is that it works well with multiple types of writing. It also gives the students a tool for organizing their thoughts. The students get very good at knowing the format and being able to fill in the four square graphic organizer by the end of the year. We are now in the 4th quarter of school and the students are much quicker than they were at the first of the year. If you are teaching this lesson at the beginning of the year or your students do not have much experience with the four square method, I would recommend splitting this lesson into two parts. Have the students fill out the graphic organizer the first day and then write the essay the second day. I have included a video in the resources on how to have the students make a four square graphic organizer from a blank piece of paper.
Once the students have completed their four square graphic organizers, they will turn the notes into a five paragraph informative essay. I will review the scoring rubric with the students before they begin writing so they are aware of what it is I am looking for when I grade their essays. I will allow the students the remainder of the time to complete their essays. As the students complete their essays, I will read through them quickly, giving each student complements on the things they did well as well as ways they could improve it if they choose to. I will then allow them to make changes to their essays before they turn them in. I call this mini conferencing. I love to conference with the students on their writing but don't always have time. This method allows me to quickly meet with each student as the finish.
After the students have finished, we will take the essays into the computer lab and type them up. We are preparing for the end of level writing test which will require the students to type an essay onto the computer.