Persuasive Writing - "Who's the Best Parent?" - Part 2

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SWBAT research and then draw illustrations to help convince their readers that their animal parent is in fact, the BEST animal parent.

Big Idea

Did someone say drawing? We LOVE to draw! In this lesson students will draw with a purpose in mind!

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 will draw illustrations or models to help convince their readers that the animal that s/he chose is the best animal parent.  The illustration will also include details that will add more information to their written piece.

ELA Common Core

The ELA CCSS asks that students write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.  In this lesson my students draw illustrations that add more details to their written pieces.

To support our young students they will need to learn how to navigate through the steps of our writing process - develop ideas, plan, draft, revise, edit and publish. It is suggested that students have multiple experiences in different writing genres.  Throughout the school year my students have engaged in learning how to write persuasive pieces in a units of study designed for a writing workshop.

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.


Books/Photographs: Elephants, Polar Bears, Orangutans, Octopus, Alligator, Emperor Penguins

Computers/Ipads - PebbleGo (optional resource)

Students' Science Journals and Folders

Anchor Chart - Writing Your Opinion

Written drafts from Persuasive Writing: Who is the Best Animal Parent? - Day 1

Crayons, color pencils, markers

Blank paper


10 minutes

The NGSS asks that students participate in developing models that help to represent ideas and/or explanations. In this lesson my students use drawings to help explain which animal is the best animal parent and why.

The purpose of this Research section is to allow my students time to look at photographs, illustrations, and animal pictures that will help them develop their own models for their opinion piece.  Since 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 instructional resources. One resource that has supported my development in writing workshop are the Units of Study in Opinion/Argument by Lucy Calkins. I also use the units from Oakland Schools in Michigan as well as work from Nell Duke and Katie Wood Ray.

For this work, my students use their science journals, classroom books and Ipads as reference tools for developing scientific illustrations and/or models.

I allow my students time to work and then bring them together to share some ideas for creating these illustrations.

Mini Lesson:

10 minutes

The NGSS asks that we integrate the science standards with the Common Core ELA and math standards. My students get to use their knowledge on animal families to construct an piece of opinion writing about the best animal parent. In this lesson students are asked to create an illustration that will help convince others that their animal is the best animal parent.

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

Boys and girls, in our last lesson learned how to draft your work in smart way. You have included a lead sentence, three reasons and a smart closing sentence.  I show my students our anchor chart with a hamburger.  It is like you made a hamburger!

Anchor Chart - Writing Your Opinion

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

Today, you will be drawing an illustration that will help convince your readers that your animal is the BEST animal parent.  I show my students our Anchor Chart - How do animals parents take care of their babies?. Think about all the great ways your animals takes care of her babies. In your illustrations you will need to show how your parent loves her baby, feeds her baby, protects her baby or teaches her baby. You may even want to show how they communicate. Today we looked through your science journals, books and Ipads and you helped me make a list of things that are in good convincing drawings.  You said, "Labels, captions, zoom-ins, words like big and small in the captions, photographs and detailed pictures that are easy for your reader to see." Today you will be doing some of those things in your illustrations.  As a writer it is so important that you don't rush your picture or model because it adds so much to your writing. 

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 several books about animals and I point out that drawings can have labels, captions, zoom-ins and diagrams.

Boys and girl, do you see that?  WOW! This book did it! Look at these amazing photographs that match the words perfectly.  I read the words on the page and then we look at the picture. Did you see what the author did?  He made sure that the words and pictures go together.  Let's read the caption.  WOW! This caption adds so much more information to this page.  I do the exact same thing for labels, diagrams and zoom-ins.  I want my students to see how other authors have done what I am asking them to do. 

Next, I model how to add an illustrations, labels, captions and zoom-in to my writing.

Active Engagement:

Now it is your turn, what do you think I should add for my pictures?  The students all yell out ideas!  I ask my students to share their ideas with their turn and talk partner. I draw what I hear them say and then ask what I need to add. At this point I even share the pen and ask my students to add to my illustrations.


Today you get to do the same thing.  You get to head off and create your illustrations.

I send my students off to create their drawings.

Independent Writing:

30 minutes

The Science and Engineering Practice 4 asks students to analyze data. In this lesson the students go back to their journals, diagrams and notes and use this data to help construct their persuasive models. I tell my students to use the work from our science lessons (Investigation worksheets and science journals) to help create these models.

ELA Integration: Independent writing is writing time designated after a mini lesson when students get to go off and practice what has been taught. During this time students write by themselves with varying levels of support from the teacher.

It is time to draw our models!!  I send my students off to draw their illustrations and add to their writing.

As my students work 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 Tyson's writing on the document camera. Look at what Tyson did.  His writing includes a lot of details!  Can you tell which animal he picked to write about? You are right!  His illustration includes that animal, the animal baby as well as evidence of his reasons! He even included hearts to show that his animal shows love.  

Partner Work:

10 minutes

It is suggested that teachers assign partners who will stay together for a long stretch of time. I assign new partnerships each month however 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.

I ask my students to find their workshop partner to share the work they have completed today. All of my students have completed their illustrations. Each partner reads his/her persuasive writing and listens and/or looks for the following: 

*A detailed model or drawing

*Lead sentence

*3 Reasons

*Closing sentence


15 minutes
This is our BIG CULMINATING EVENT!  For this share out I have decided to host an official Science Party.  I invite the parents to come to our classroom to help us celebrate the conclusion of our Animal Families unit of study.  Each child read his/her persuasive writing out loud to the whole group of parents as well as show off their science journals, science folders and worksheets.