Letters from Authors
Lesson 2 of 6
Objective: SWBAT write a convincing opinion piece by stating their opinions, supporting opinions with details, and providing a closing statement.
Common Core Connection and Introduction
I chose the lesson image because it will get my students thinking about the story, characters, and series of events. I like to project the lesson image on the board and use it as an activating strategy to begin the lesson. I also feel that using technology enhances my students engagement, and projecting the image does this for me.
The Common Core Standard W.1.1 says that the students need to be able to write and opinion piece where they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about and state an opinion, supply reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure. To engage them in this work, I ask students to write the opinion piece from the point of view of a pea from The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-be. I like to use fairy tales to write opinion pieces about because they are very entertaining.
I have used The True Story of the Three Little Pigs before for the point of view lessons, but I also like to use it to allow my students to write from the author's point of view. This lesson allows students to analyze point of view, but create an extended writing response. The students write a rationale for why Alexander composed the text. I think it is essential to use a text that has a strong voice for the students to be able to understand the author's point and be able to justify the opinion of the author.
In order for the students to keep their energy up I like to transition (Transitions) them about every twenty minutes. But, my favorite way of grouping students is called (Peanut Butter Jelly Partners). These two management practices seem to be essential for me to meet my students learning needs.
I ask the students to think about the story that connects to the image and what the author of that text might be saying. Students discuss and a volunteer shares. I remind them of the story of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and how the wolf wrote his story. I share that we are going to write a letter to the the kindergarten class next door about the opinion of the wolf and why he tells his story.
I try to get my students to understand the lesson objective by saying it, having them repeat it, tell a friend, and then repeat it with me. This is an engaging way to allow my class to develop ownership of the lesson purpose. I say, I can write a letter explaining an opinion.
There are three issues that make writing a letter about an opinion challenging for students. They are creating:1) a strong opinion statement, 2) convincing supporting details, and 3) a strong closing statement.
By creating notes, the students can organize their ideas. Then it makes it easier for them to analyze the validity of the details that support the opinion. In this section the students are going to work as a class to generate some notes from Alexander's point of view. Then the class creates a letter from Alexander explaining why he told the story and his opinion. Thinking from the character's point of view and analyzing his opinion is a complex task. It is difficult to think from the perspective of a character and justify the character's opinion. So, by making notes the students can more easily list the strong reasons for the opinion.
For example, some reasons the wolf is a nice guy might be:
1) Blowing the house down was an accident, he just sneezed.
2) If a perfect dinner is sitting before you then it should be eaten.
3) He just needed sugar to make his granny a cake.
The class simply creates some notes to help write the letter (Board Work).
As the guided practice begins I try to activate my students thinking by asking them to share and discuss the components of a letter. So ,I ask for volunteers to tell me what I do first when writing a letter. Then I write the date. Students discuss what I do next. One volunteer shares and I write the greeting. I explain using the comma and how I capitalize the word dear and the proper nouns in the greeting. I believe grammar should be taught in context, not in isolation.
Students discuss what they learned in previous lessons about what the first sentence of a paragraph should do. Hopefully somebody recalls that it needs to state the purpose. If they don't remember I just remind them in a friendly way. Stating the purpose for writing is one strategy I use to help my students create a topic sentence. Plus, we are connecting previous learning to today's lesson. Students discuss what the topic sentence should be, somebody shares, we discuss, and I write it on the board. For example, I might write: The Wolf is a nice guy, and people had the wrong impression him.
Basically, I try to add challenging vocabulary to help my students learn dollar words in context. Dollar words are just larger words that I use in place of small words. I also explain why we capitalize the first word in the sentence and add a period at the end. Then I ask the students to repeat the sentence and count the words. Then we count the words I wrote. This is a strategy I like to use to help my students keep from forgetting words when they write.
Then students discuss the closing and one person shares. My strategy to help students develop a closing sentence is to reread the detail. After, reading the details I ask the student to restate them and the opinion in one sentence. Then students share the closing. Last we review capitalization in the closing, the comma, and the signature. Last, I read the letter we create to the class and remind the students that this reflects Alexander's opinion (Board Work).
I use the Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-be and it is a great book to show the perspective from the view of a pea. Students are read the book by the video. Then they have to write a letter from the view of the pea to any person they choose. The students are basically justifying the opinion of the pea in a letter. To help the class remember the parts to a letter I write the specific criteria on the board.
Three Detail Sentences_______
Students put a check by each thing as a checklist to make sure they did each part.
Students review each others checklist and give each other verbal feedback (Peer Evaluation) as to what they need to do to improve their writing. I like using evaluation as a tool (Assessment Template) to get my students to think in higher order and I think students value their peers comments. I do have to admit sometimes the first time I do this I have to help my students, but after a lot of modeling they can give each other great feedback.
This is the time my student and I like to work on speaking and listening. I select a few students to share their work. I had to make some adjustments because students were mad at me because I did not let everyone present. Everyone cannot because we just don't have time. Sometimes I allow students present at the end of the day or during snack. Sometimes we even do the presentations during snack.
Students tell each other one opinion they learn in the lesson. Here I am assessing the basic ability to state or identify an opinion, since this lesson is about opinion writing. I listen and share what I heard. I try to encourage discourse by allowing my students to add to what their peers say. This is another strategy I use to promote speaking and listening.
Like most of my lessons we review the lesson goal:I can write a letter explaining an opinion. I think students need to know what I want them to learn. We often even chant the lesson goal during transitions. I tell the class what we will be learning and doing next. This is something we do with every lesson.