The first writing standard for our kindergarteners states that students should use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic.
Students' opinions are a crucial step in the foundation of good writing, so we need to provide our kids with ample opportunities to express themselves through their own opinions.
This lesson is helpful, and it is also fun; after all, what students don't like to talk about themselves?
And, after all, if we want students to be able to write with background, we should go ahead and teach them the best (and easiest) way to write using what they already know....... all students are able to write something about themselves!
Here is how opinion writing can be very beneficial, as I have seen in my classroom!
This is a whole group introductory lesson, so this lesson will be done with all students sitting on the carpet and me in front of them.
Prior to this lesson, students will have had a mini-lesson about what exactly an opinion is. Students should have a foundational understanding of what it means to form an opinion in order to be able to perform adeptly in this lesson. Students will have done some accountable talk with their own opinions, comparing and contrasting opinions and justifying their feelings.
"Today, we are going to be able to express our opinions! Remember: when we express our opinions, we tell people how we feel. Today, we are going to do just that."
"Right now, I am going to read you a story. This story has the opinion of the main character displayed throughout the text; even the title tells you her opinion! So, we are going to read this story to hear her opinion. We will talk about it afterwards. But, I would love for you to listen to hear her opinion and her reasons why as well!"
At this time, I will read I will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato. This book is one that students enjoy because it is funny and somewhat true to 5-year-olds!
After we read the story, I have a conversation in response to the text.
"So... in this story, as I said, the main character obviously had an opinion." (wait time) "Please share with your partner what her opinion was!" (I will give students about thirty seconds to share with and talk to each other.)
"I heard the same idea over and over. Most of you said something about the girl's opinion being that she did not like tomatoes. I agree with you! I think that her opinion was, 'I will never, not ever eat a tomato,' to be exact." (wait time) "Who agrees with me?" (Students will show me with their silent signal whether or not they agree.)
"Alright. I am glad to see we are all on the same page. We all got the understanding that the little girl in our text really didn't like tomatoes." (wait time) "Now... tomatoes aren't the only vegetable I think that she might not like...." (wait time)
"Today, we are going to form our own opinions, just like the girl in the story. We are going to make an opinion about vegetables." (wait time) "What is one vegetable that you think you will never, ever eat?... I want you to really, really think about it. Take some think time." (Students will have one minute to think for themselves.)
"Do you have your opinion?" (wait time) "I want you to go and finish this sentence to tell me your opinion about a vegetable... "I will never, not ever eat ____________... you go tell me!"
At this time, students will head to their seats and grab their pencils. I will pass out a small, lined piece of paper for students to write their frame on.
On my white-board, I will write, "I will never, not ever eat ______________."
I use a frame because, after all, this is an early-in-the-year, introductory lesson.
*Sentence frames are important because they allow ALL students to access the information that will need to be provided; in the meantime, I am able to provide differentiation by either asking some students to simply complete the frame or by asking others to really push themselves and expand upon the frame and/or explain the first piece and make the sentence longer.
I use the frames to allow three dependable students to come up and show us what I expect. As you can see here in our modeled guided practice responses, students did a great job! This shows me that they should all be able to master this task at this point!
Students will sit at their seats and complete the sentence frame. I do expect students to sound out the name of their vegetable here to connect to their phonemic awareness and phonics skills! (Surprisingly, as you can see in our guided practice, my students actually used the vegetable word wall from science to spell their words-- this is good because it shows my students' awareness of available resources and tools!)
Since the purpose of this task is just to get students to express their opinions, the assessment process isn't very time-intensive or detailed. Basically, I make sure that students were able to complete the frame with the name of a vegetable. As long as students' sentences are complete and include an opinion (from the frame) about a specific vegetable, I am happy.
When students are discussing their thoughts about opinions and about the text, I really listen; this is a time when I can really informally assess students' grasp on opinions.
A way that I love to extend this task is to build upon it. I like to keep students' papers from this lesson and use them in a following lesson (preferably the next day) to add a supporting reason. I love to teach a whole lesson that builds on this one by adding reason to this introductory opinion writing.
I like to use this opinion writing steps 1 and 2 pack to reinforce this lesson and the adding reason lesson. I think it's crucial to first allow students to simply write their opinions, THEN to have them support their opinions afterwards.