Persuasive Writing - "Who's the Best Parent?" - Part 1

8 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT create a written opinion to the question, "Who is the best animal parent?" This written piece will include scientific evidence and will be presented in a written piece that includes a lead sentence, quality reasons and a closing.

Big Idea

Did you say, "Who is the best animal parent?" Well guess what? We all have opinions about that! This lesson allows teachers to integrate ELA and science in a natural and purposeful way!

Setting the Stage:

National Science Education Science Standards Connection:

The National Science Education Standards has said that making observations is key to inquiry-based and discovery-focused learning in science instruction. In order to do this students participate in inquiry-based learning that allows them to solve a problem in science through observation, discourse and using a science journal. Students will then be give a chance to share their findings with their peers and then reflect on their own understanding.

Next Generation Science Standards Connection:

In this unit my students learn that about heredity. They will use different media to find evidence that that animal babies are similar to their parents.  Through exploration my students will discover that animals can have babies and in many kinds of animals, parents and the offspring themselves engage in behaviors that help the offspring to survive.

In this lesson students research best animal parents and write their research to state their opinion.

Classroom Structures:

In order to support a high level of student discourse within my science lessons I have assigned two different student partnerships.  Turn and Talk Partners are discourse partners that work together to share the deep thinking that happens throughout the day.  Workshop Partners are partners who are matched together for the purpose of working during our independent times.  In this lesson students will be engaged in both partnerships.

Vocabulary Cards:

These cards include the vocabulary that covers standards LS1-2 and LS3-1. You can choose to use these cards in different ways. I like to print all vocabulary words on card stock and hang them on my science bulletin board as a reference tool throughout the unit. You can also use these cards as flashcards or a concentration matching game.


Anchor Chart - Power Words

Science Journal

Computers: Pebble Go (optional)

Anchor Chart - Who is the Best Animal Parent?

Anchor Chart - How do animals parents take care of their babies?

Books: Alligators, elephants, Emperor penguins, Orangutans, Polar Bears, octopus

Anchor Chart - Writing Your Opinion

Paper - persuasive page 1

Paper - persuasive page 2

Anchor Chart - Accountable Talk


20 minutes

I have included this Research section in order to allow my students to research before diving into our mini lesson.  Being that this is only a 2-day lesson series, much of the work that goes into teaching opinion writing has occurred while teaching a unit on opinion writing. In order to become familiar with what the the CCSS has asked of our young writers I use a variety of resources. One resource that has supported my development in writing workshop are Lucy Calkins Units of Study. I also use the units from Oakland Schools in Michigan as well as work from Nell Duke and Katie Wood Ray.

In order to make the research piece a little more manageable I have assigned a list of animals that (as a class) we have found they present themselves as good animal parents: elephants, alligators, penguins, polar bears, orangutans, and octopusI ask this question: Who is the best animal parent? You will only be able to chose one animal so think very hard about what you know about these animals.  Remember this is YOUR opinion and not your neighbors.  If your animal is different than your neighbor that is normal.  Everyone has their own ideas and opinions. Are you ready to tell me which animal you think is the best animal parent? I ask each child to vote and I record their opinions on our Anchor Chart - Who is the Best Animal Parent?

Are you ready to research? I have books, Ipads (pebbleGo), and your science journals.  You will need to find out how your animal parent shows love, teaches, feeds, communicates and protects its baby.  This research will help you to convince others that your animal is in fact, the best animal parent! 

Before sending my students off to research I show them the Anchor Chart - How do animals parents take care of their babies? This is the anchor chart that we filled in the earlier lessons of this unit.  This anchor chart includes different ways that animal parents take care of their young. I encourage my students to create a similar chart in their science journals and then search for ways that their animal parent feeds, protects, teaches and/or love their young.

Research - Alligator

Research - Emperor Penguin

Research - Emperor Penguin

After my students have completed their research I ask my students to share their findings in small groups. The purpose of this share time is allow for students to share and gather new information from their peers.

Video - Sharing Research

Mini Lesson:

10 minutes

The Science and Engineering Practice 7 asks that students argue findings based on their evidence. As my students write I tell them to refer back to their research. I am looking for writing pieces that appropriately argue why they think this animal is the best animal parent. I encourage them to include the ways this parent cares for its young: protect, love, feed, teach, communicate. 

The high demands of the CCSS requires that our subject matter be integrated in meaningful and purposeful ways.  My students get to use their knowledge on animal families to construct a piece of opinion writing on the best animal parent. In this lesson students are asked to create a written narrative that includes a lead sentence, supporting evidence and a closing. The goal of this piece is to share why the animal they picked is the best animal parent.

Reference Anchor Charts from previous writing lessons:

Anchor Chart - Tools for Spelling Tricky Words

Anchor Chart - Writing your opinion

Connection: A connection is a way of activating prior knowledge to what the students have already been learning.

Boys and girls you have learned all about writing in ways that share your opinion.  Well, today you are going to get to do the exact same thing however there is a catch.  Today you will not be picking your topic as we do in writing workshop. Today you will write to this prompt: Who is the best animal parent?  You have done a lot of research already on your chosen animal and now you will get to put that research to work. 

Teaching Point: A teaching point focuses on the one small skill or strategy being taught.

Today, you put that research on paper in the same way you write opinion pieces. You will start your writing with a good lead sentence just like famous authors.  A good lead sentence is something that helps your reader know what this piece of writing in about.  Then the writer will write their evidence.  This evidence will help prove your lead sentence.  Finally the writer will close it all up with a good closing sentence.  It is sort of like a hamburger. I show my students an anchor chart with a hamburger.  This top piece of bread is the lead sentence. Then all this stuff in the middle: lettuce, hamburger, cheese and tomato are your reasons or evidence. Finally this bottom piece of bread is our closing sentence. The closing sentence and the lead sentence help each other out and many times say almost the same thing.

I LOVE using mentor texts in my mini lessons as well as modeling my own writing.  For this lesson I will be doing both.  I love how Kelly Boswell says in her book, Write this Way: How Modeling Transforms the Writing Classroom;

If you think about it, modeling plays an important role in how the human brain learns almost anything. Infants and toddlers watch their caregivers talk, walk, and eat with a spoon. Piano students notice and note the way the instructor's hands are placed on the keys when playing scales. Tennis players watch and listen as the coach demonstrates how to serve the ball. Student teachers observe a master teacher before teaching lessons on their own.

I show my students the book Red is Best by Kathy Stinson. We have already read this book so I am only using it as a reference tool to point out lead sentences, convincing reasons and a closing. I make sure I point out how I can hear the author's voice in the writing.

Next, it is my turn to write! Modeling how to write an opinion piece is a powerful way to support your young writers.  I state my opinion to my first grade students:  I think Bozeman is a great place to live. Then, I write exactly that and tell them that this is my lead sentence.

Active Engagement:

Now it is your turn! I need to convince my mom that Bozeman is a great place to live.  She is my audience.  She likes shopping, visiting coffee shops and looking a nature. How am I going to convince her?  My students all yell out ideas!  I ask my students to share their ideas with their turn and talk partner. I remind them that I am convincing my mom and she is my audience so I need to think about the things that she likes.  They say things like: Bozeman has a lot of coffee shops downtown. I guide them by saying, Bozeman has amazing coffee shops that sell local coffee. The coffee shops have delicious donuts. Together we quickly finish this piece of writing.


Today you get to do the same thing.  You get to head off and your opinion to this question - Which animal is the best animal parent? Be sure to start with a lead sentence that states your opinion. Then write your reasons why - try to write at least three reasons. Finally, write a closing sentence that restates your opinion in a clever way. Are you ready to give this a go? Great! Let's get started!!

I send my students off to start their writing.

Independent Writing:

20 minutes

The Science and Engineering Practice 4 asks students to analyze data. In this lesson the students go back to their research and use this data to help construct their opinion writing. During this independent work time students use their own scientific research to clarify ideas, thoughts and learning from our unit.

ELA Integration: Independent writing is writing time designated after a mini lesson when students practice what has been taught. During this time students write by themselves with varying levels of support from the teacher. My students head off to write with a clear understanding of the skills and strategies expected during this time. 

As my students write I walk around and confer with each student naming and noticing the smart thinking happening. Conferring is the process of listening and recording the work the student or students are doing and then compliment the work. As I listen, I research a teaching point and then work to provide clarification through questioning, modeling and re-teaching.

Mid-Workshop Teaching Point: Boys and girls, look up here!! Can you see this work? I have placed Mari's writing on the document camera. Look at what Mari did.  Her piece of writing includes a lead sentence (I read Mari's lead sentence).  Let's look at her reasons (I read her reasons and talk about each reason). Finally look at her amazing closing! It is similar to her lead sentence.  The lead sentence and the closing sentence sandwich all the reasons together. Does your lead sentence and closing sentence sandwich the reasons together like Mari's?

Partner Work:

5 minutes

I ask my students to find their workshop partner to share the work they have completed today. All of my students have completed their drafts. Each partner's job is to check to make sure the their partner's writing has a lead sentence that states an opinion, three reasons that explain why their animal is the best animal parent and a closing sentence that re-states the opinion in an interesting way.

It is suggested that teachers assign partners who will stay together for a long stretch of time. I assign new partnerships each month which doesn't seem like a lot of time but for how I teach, it works.  I use my workshop partners multiple times throughout our school day, each day and in just about every subject area. Partner work can help support the work being done throughout the day and these partners can be used in reading, writing, math, social and science. In my classroom partners support each other with planning, revising, editing, investigating and solving problems together. During my partner time I am able to confer with partnerships to support and extend the work children are doing together.


10 minutes

The purpose of the Share is to celebrate the work my writers have done that day. I ask my students to bring their writing to the carpet and stand along the edge facing in.  Each child holds up their writing for everyone to see.  We cheer and yell, "Hip-Hooray, we wrote our opinions today!"

I ask my students to quickly sit down, Boys and girls today you have a great start to your opinion writing. You wrote lead sentences that state your opinion, three reasons and you even included a closing sentence that re-states your opinion. Tomorrow we will be adding our illustrations and wrapping up your work!

Would anyone like to share their opinion writing?  I ask only a couple of my students to share their writing. After each child has shared I show my students our anchor chart - Accountable Talk and ask my students to give feedback on the different opinions presented today. Students respond with I agree because... or I disagree because ..... This is a great tool for helping students to include good, convincing reasons in their opinion writing.