How do you get a child to love writing? Give him a a topic he is passionate about. Writing no longer becomes a chore but an avenue for the child's voice to be heard. To me, as the teacher, the process is more important than the topic. Yet to the student, the topic is more important than the process. A highly motivating topic interests students enough to learn and use the process.
For this lesson, we are going to be writing an opinion essay about whether or not children should have cell phones. This is a high interest topic in our area right now. The topic can certainly be tailored to fit the interests of the students in your area.
To start the lesson, I will show the image used in the lesson image of the little girl with the cell phone. I will ask the students, "Should kids have cell phones?" "What age is too young to have one?" "At what age is a child responsible enough to have their own cell phone?"
Once the students have had the chance to voice their opinions in our group discussion, I will read the time for kids article about the use of cell phones by children. The article is titled, "Debate! Do kids need their own cell phones?" I will have the students read the article individually with a highlighter and a pencil. I will instruct the students to highlight information which backs up their opinion. This information will later be used in their five paragraph opinion essays. The pencil will be used to take notes as they read as well as to jot down ideas that come to mind while reading the article.
Rochman, B. & TIME for Kids Staff (2012). Debate! Do Kids need their own cell phones?. Time for Kids. Retrieved April 23, 2014, from http://www.timeforkids.com/news/debate/47056
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 opinion essay on whether or not kids should have their own cell phones. 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.