I was able to bring in samples of Oreo cookies for my class to taste and form an opinion. I realize this is unique and many kids will not be able to taste food in class. I chose to use Oreos because the acronym follows the opinion form.
Writing opinions involves many skills, so I've picked a concrete topic and chose to have the kids write a one paragraph essay about their favorite dessert in this lesson.
My districts' second grade goal is a 5-paragraph essay, which my students will write about the topic of recess in the next lessons: Inside or Out-Organize Ideas for An Opinion Essay (Part 1 of 3), Inside or Out-Draft the Opinion Essay (Part 2 of 3), Inside or Out-Edit and Finalize Your Opinion Essay (Part 3 of 3). Composing a five-paragraph essay is the expectation from the district for the middle to end of 2nd grade. This dovetails with and builds on the Common Core State Standards’ expectations for writing an opinion piece that states and restates an opinion with reasons and and examples for evidence. This is a daunting task for my students, so we'll practice with one-paragraph essays until they become more secure with the process. What we are creating in this lesson is a simpler version of a full essay lesson we'll be completing later.
Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics. The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary. My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)
Common starting point
At the beginning and end of this lesson, I made sure the kids saw the 'big picture' of what we were doing. My purpose in this lesson was to have them write a short simple opinion paragraph to practice forming opinions with reasons and examples and stating the introduction and concluding sentences.
Introduce the idea of opinions
Share how to write about opinions
Model how to write a paragraph
I'm purposefully keeping this task straightforward because there are a lot of underlying skills to be practiced. The kids need to be able to state and restate a clear opinion, so I've limited the topics and given a clear model. They need to have a clear reason with supporting examples. I chose food because it's more concrete and the reasons can be similar across whichever dessert they choose. Then they also need to have good examples, which, again, have to be relevant to the reason. There was a lot of discussion while I modeled and I want to keep the task simple so that we have plenty of time. My students are using transition words, writing a paragraph, indenting-all skills introduced in previous lessons.
Students fill out the organizer:
This was fairly easy for my kids. They are used to writing longer essays, so writing ideas for only one paragraph did not take them very long. They had LOTS of ideas about favorite desserts. I limited them to a choice of cupcake or ice cream (what was on the powerpoint) because this is practice for a longer writing sample.
Write the paper
At this point, the students are actually writing opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect the opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section (W.2.1) The opinion piece that they create will have all of the pieces that make for a great sample piece - introduction, conclusion, clear opinion statement and support for that opinion. Although I have simplified this down into a one paragraph essay about dessert, the kids are ultimately learning how to create a powerful piece of writing that will be molded into longer pieces about more controversial topics in future grades.
Mounting the paragraph
Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be scaffolded down, depending on student ability. These writing lessons are typically harder for students with academic challenges. The organizer should be helpful for them to get their ideas on paper, but be sure to write words on the board or their desk slate to help with spelling. You may need to prompt ideas with them - 'Why do you like ice cream?' 'How does it taste?' to help them with reasons and examples. Once the organizer is done, it should be easier for them to construct a paragraph, which will be edited later.