We all have opinions and some of them we wish others to agree with. This first lesson of the unit on persuasive writing helps students brainstorm opinions they have in order to develop a persuasive writing piece.
Using Charlotte's Web, I ask if any students know how that story developed for the author. I explain that the author was laying in the barn, near the pig, and saw a spider spin a web. Just by watching and thinking, he started to realize that the pig may be lonely but the spider and pig could be friends. He continued to think and create the story of Charlotte's Web. Having a friend could get you through anything and it didn't matter how small the friend was.
I explain that when author's want to write about something important, they take a moment to think about the everyday things in the life and what is most important about them. The author of Charlotte's Web was just laying there but then realized something important about friendship.
Here's an example of something I realized recently. I attended the Farmer's Market in Columbia City and noticed how many people were there. I noticed how many people I've met before and were my neighbors. I also noticed how many different stands there were selling goods. I realized that a farmer's market is a great community building. Its a great place for families to come and see other families, and it is a great place for companies to show people what they sell.
See how I noticed things around me and then realized some big ideas about them? You can do they same with everyday experiences in your life.
I tell the students that they are going to get a chance to look around the room and either think of experiences they had or just using everyday classroom objects. They should try to come up with big ideas or things they have realized. It doesn't have to be really important. It can be as simple as, "Pencils are a necessary tool for students" or "desks should be big enough to hold all of you materials inside," etc.
Students discuss these ideas with a partner and then I choose a few to share out to the class.
Sometimes, a student will have a difficult time putting their big idea into one concise sentence. That's okay. For their independent practice, students will not only state what they notice and then create big ideas but they may also write an entry or summary/explanation of the idea.
Right before I send kids away, I remind them that today they are collecting ideas by first noticing everyday things and experiences and then considering what is important about them or what they can realize about that experience. Then they write that big idea down and write an entry or a summary about it.