Inside or Out? Edit and Finalize Your Opinion Essay (Lesson 3 of 3)

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SWBAT edit and write an opinion essay, introducing the topic, stating an opinion, supplying reasons and examples, and concluding the essay.

Big Idea

Edit, write a final draft to share your opinion about which is better: indoor or outdoor recess?


  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: opinion, essay, edit, final draft, rough draft
  • 'stars' for editing' to be put on the overhead or drawn on the board (You'll see that my stars are cutout and laminated because I use them for all writing lessons)
  • Recess final draft paper
  • kids need markers
  • whiteboard set up (I wrote a rough draft of my own with mistakes so the kids could see each of the 7 kinds of editing) - see reflection about the stars


This writing unit is about creating an opinion piece about whether students prefer indoor or outdoor recess. In Part 1 of this writing unit, Inside or Out-Writing an Opinion Essay (Lesson 1 of 3), students used an organizer to write a 3 reasons why they prefer indoor or outdoor recess and supporting examples.  In part 2, Draft a Star Narrative (Lesson 2 of 3), students wrote a rough draft. In this final lesson of the unit, students will edit and then write a final draft for the five-paragraph essay.

Second graders need time to work through these writing steps of the writing process (brainstorm, organize, rough draft, edit, final draft). The district expectation for my students is to create a five paragraph essay, aligning with the Common Core Standards of composing a variety of types of essays, including opinion pieces that state an opinion with supporting examples and reasons. (W.2.1). They are stating the opinion, giving support, adding linking words, and restating their thinking in the conclusion. Guiding students through each step and giving them practice will ultimately help them become independent writers.

To give you more background about how to help students write a five paragraph essay, I encourage you to look at some narrative writing lessons that I taught previously in my course: Organize Your Ideas In A Timely Way (Lesson 1 of 3), Draft and Edit a Star Narrative (Lesson 2 of 3), and Finalize and Show What You Know (Lesson 3 of 3). I taught that unit to teach students about writing narrative essays. I used the same ideas of 'main idea' with 'supporting details', writing 2 drafts and editing that the Common Core Standards emphasize to provide evidence for statements that the students make in writing and create strong writing pieces.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

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

  • "Today we'll finally finish our opinion essay about recess."
  • "We will edit our rough draft with editing stars and then create a final draft. This is the list of ways that we'll edit our paper today.
  • Here's a peek at what my introduction and review of the previous lessons sounded like.

Model the Editing Process

20 minutes

Explain and Demonstrate

  • "Now that your rough draft is done, we need to edit your work. Take a look at my rough draft on the board. Any thoughts about editing?"  I took a minute to get the kids ideas about editing first. These were their ideas about editing.
  • "I'm putting my 7 stars on the board to check over my essay. I'll edit my introduction and first paragraph to show you what to do."
    • "I check the capitalization - names, first words of a sentence, places...Once it's right, I can color the orange star on my paper."
    • "I check the spelling. If I spelled all the words right, I can color the red star on my paper."  This is how I edited the spelling.
    • "I check the handwriting. If all the letters look good, I can color the green star on my paper." Take a look at the handwriting edits.
    • "I check the punctuation - periods at the end of sentences, commas...., If it looks good, I can color the pink star on my paper."  It sounded like this when I discussed punctuation.
    • "I check for words that I repeat too often (He is, he is...). Once I check and fix any, I can color the yellow star on my paper." My edits for repeating words sounded like this.
    • "I check the grammar - do I have a noun and verb in each sentence? Once it's right, I can color the blue star on my paper." Here's my edits for grammar.
    • "Let's check for repeating words and sentences.  Do I have words that are repeated? (is, is, is or the, the, the)  My discussion of repeating words & sentences sounded like this.  I'll color that star."
    • "I reread all three paragraphs with a friend."  I reviewed the rules of peer editing.  Once they sound good, I can color the purple star on my paper."  
    • Before I finished, I noticed that I forgot to check for indenting.
  • "Now my whole rough draft is edited and I'm ready to write my final draft!" This is what the whiteboard looked like when I was done.


My goal is this activity is for students to begin to become responsible for editing their work. They do have a basic understanding of these 'star' concepts from previous writing units, so they can be held accountable to fix some minor mistakes. I am not focusing on new grammar rules (quotation marks or complex grammatical phrases). My focus is, instead, for students to use what they know to go back and correct their own work. The Common Core standards encourage students to be able to focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing. (W.2.5) 

As students participate in these collaborative conversations (SL.2.6), they are ultimately talking about their own writing and looking over others' writing. This student editing with a friend for the purple star is following the rules for discussion along with his classmates, taking turns, and building on what others say. This is the kind of learning the the Common Core Standards is striving for. (SL.2.1) The ultimate goal is for students to, when appropriate, learn from each other's mistakes and proper writing samples. Did someone forget to capitalize the noun? That's a good sentence because the noun and verb agree. Wow, my neighbor says it's hard to write too.  This kind of learning and writing toward a goal is a true team effort led by individual students working and learning how to be great writers.

Kids Edit and Write the Final Draft

25 minutes

Give the purpose and background of the lesson

  • "Today we'll write our final drafts and then create a project that embodies all of our ideas."
  • "Let's think about what we do when we write from a edited rough draft to a final draft."


Give students time to edit and write & write the final draft

  • Take your time and make any final edits as you write.
  • You can help individually with some simple editing symbols - insert (^), new paragraph (H), and arrows to move words/sentences. I have shown my kids a few of these, but I don't require they use them consistently. This is a video of one student who was able to use the indent symbol in her writing.
  • When they are done editing, they should raise their hand - do a final check and then they can write the final paper.


Formative assessment & student support

  • As you walk around and help students, ask them questions:
    • "How does the final draft compare to the rough draft?"
    • "How do they feel now that they have completed this long essay?"
    • Can they explain how their edits?
  • Here is an example of student's rough draft and completed final draft.


I make a BIG deal out of creating this final paper. The students have worked for THREE long days creating this paper and I want them to be proud of all of their hard work. Here's my comments about taking pride in their work in their work. Writing a five paragraph essay is not easy for a second-grader, but as they finish, they are proud of how nice their writing looks. This is a intrinsic pay-off... they feel good that they've worked hard.   


Scaffolding and Special Education

You can still scaffold this lesson to students with more and less academic ability.  Those who excel in writing should be able to edit more easily, specifically the grammar. I would have them take a look at the 'words and sentences' to see if they can raise the level of vocabulary and use longer sentences with more description.

Those who need extra help can be supported with spelling help on the whiteboard. As they work and finish their drafts, ask them to explain what they are editing. This is a video of one of my students with language challenges re-reading his final draft and noting comparing his rough and final draft.