Use your VOICE, but think about who is listening...

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SWBAT write an opinion piece comparing formal and informal uses of English, edit with a peer, and read their letter demonstrating the proper use of voice.

Big Idea

It's the students' chance to speak up and share what they think! The persuasive writing pieces that they create takes different voice.


  • fake microphone - here's a website if you need to make one
  • letter template - one for each student
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: writing, voice, persuasive, audience, opinion, evidence
  • set up the whiteboard with sentences

Let's Get Excited!

10 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.

Bring students to a common starting point

  • "I brought a microphone today to talk about voice. Think about all the voices we can make as we talk to others."
    • "What voice do we use to get help from mom or dad - whiny, kind, respectful?"
    • "What about your baby brother - do you use a different voice with him - is it informal?" 
    • What about a teacher - can you use a more formal voice with her that shows respect and is not whiny? 
  • "Today we're going to use different voices and state some opinions. Can you give reasons to support your opinion?"  Demonstrate some opinions.
    • Mom says "Vegetables are good for you!"
    • Your baby brother says "I like that tv show!"
    • Dad says "Don't cheat on the game".
    • Your friend says, "It's my turn to go first."
    • Your sister says, "I will help you."


The use of a microphone (toy mic or muted) will emphasize the use of 'voice'.  Demonstrate and then start letting them have a chance to give their opinions!  As students consider the ideas of formal and informal English, they are developing a knowledge of language and it's conventions when writing and speaking. They are apply the knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts and make effective choices for meaning and audience.

Teacher's Turn

20 minutes

Discuss the concepts

  • "Think about a time when you wanted something from your parents or a friend.  Were you able to clearly tell what you want and why you wanted it?"
  • "Stating an opinion means persuading people about what you want and giving good reasons to support it with some evidence."
  • "It's important to practice this skill"
    • "to state an opinion clearly"
    • "use good reasons and evidence to justify our opinion or persuade people"
    • "restate your opinion clearly"


Explain the task

  • "What opinions do you have about school? I'm sure you have some ideas about things that you want changed. What do you want to persuade the principal to change or persuade your friend to agree with?"
  • Have the kids take the mic and give some topics - "we need a longer lunch", "more recess", "ride on a big bus instead of having to walk" “having recess before lunch”  Let's list these ideas and come up with 2 reasons that would persuade people to agree with these ideas?  
  • Here's our list of topics and supporting ideas.
  • "I'm going to state your opinions by writing a letter to a friend and the principal, using the correct voice. I'll use good reasons to support my opinion and maybe my letter will convince the principal to give me what I want or my friend to agree with me."



  • "I'm going to write a persuasive letter to the principal and give my opinion about... (look at the list of topics)... getting a longer lunch. I'll use my formal voice because she's my boss."
    • "First I'll state my opinion - I'd like a longer lunch."
    • "Then I'll give 2 reasons to persuade her - it's too short now and I don't have time to finish my food."
    • "I'll restate my opinion and sign my name - with a formal voice - 'From'...."


Guided Practice

  • "Help me write a letter to my friend. I'll use an informal voice."
  • "Should I write about the same topic? How can I persuade my friend to help me get a longer lunch?"
  • I pulled up a student to help me brainstorm and edit.
    • "How should I state my opinion?"  Take ideas - let's have...
    • "What 2 reasons would my friends agree with?" really cool, fun
    • "I'll ask a question so he'll write back and sign it with in informal voice - 'love'."
  • Here's my examples of persuasive letters.


The Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • "Now it's your turn to write a persuasive letter.  You can state your opinion to one person of your choosing - either a friend or to the principal."
    • "Use good reasons to support your opinion. Maybe your letter will convince the principal to give you what you want or your friend to agree with you."
    • "Choose one of the opinions that we listed.  Remember to use complete sentences and think about your voice."
    • "Consider the kind of voice are you using- formal or informal? If its a friend, you can say 'hi' or 'let's play later, ok?'"
    • "State your opinion in the beginning and then say it again in the end to try to persuade the person."


A few students wanted to pick their own topic, but then they had lots of difficulty forming a clear opinion and supporting it with reasons.  I would recommend saving that free choice for another lesson once the students are more secure with the skill of opinion writing.

Many of the letters may sound almost the same.  You're asking them to practice several skills at the same time (using voice, letter writing, stating opinions).  Letter writing is something that second graders are still new at, and stating opinions with reasons is probably very novel for them.  Some students have more eloquent writing and can use better examples of the forms of English, but its also good to note that others may be able to write clearer sentences with their reasons.


Monitor students working

  • As students work, walk around and conference with them. 
    • Ask them how to make their writing stronger- clearer and with good supporting reasons.  
    • "Show me where your reasons are."
    • "It's ok to edit on their paper-writers always edit."
    • "Read the letter out loud to yourself when you think you are done."  
    • Have a few extra copies of the letter templates for those students who want to rewrite.
  • Take a look at one of my student's letter to friend.


As students write opinion pieces that state the opinion, supply reasons and restate the opinion, (W.2.1), they are writing arguments to support claims with valid reasoning and sufficient evidence. The Common Core State Standards represent a shift in reading and writing that is grounded in evidence and requires students to focus on evidence-based writing to persuade.

Share and Reflect

10 minutes
Share and Reflect

  • "Who would like to come up and share their letter?"  Take volunteers. 
  • "Let's help each other check on the support for the opinions - is there evidence for the opinion?
  • "Is the opinion clearly stated?"
  • "Did the person persuade us with 2 reasons?"  


  • "Even if we don't agree with another person's opinion, its still important to listen to what others say. If you can write a clear opinion and support it with good reasons, then you are more likely to get what you want."
  • "Now that we finished our letters, let's deliver them!!  Put your letter to your friend in his/her mailbox and I'll deliver your letter to the principal.  Maybe she will write us back."
  • "You did a great job today stating your opinions.  I could really tell that you felt strongly about some of these ideas.  I'm proud that you were able to state your ideas clearly with support and it's good that we put our ideas down in a letter."