What's Your Opinion - Which Dessert is the Best?
Lesson 1 of 4
Objective: SWBAT write an short opinion paragraph, introducing the topic, stating an opinion, supplying reasons and examples, and concluding the essay.
- OREO writing powerpoint
- Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: opinion, essay, introduction, conclusion, examples, reasons
- Set up the whiteboard
- OREO organizer worksheet
- lined paper
- construction paper to mount the paper - optional
I was able to bring in samples of Oreo cookies for my class to taste and form an opinion. I realize this is unique and many kids will not be able to taste food in class. I chose to use Oreos because the acronym follows the opinion form.
Writing opinions involves many skills, so I've picked a concrete topic and chose to have the kids write a one paragraph essay about their favorite dessert in this lesson.
My districts' second grade goal is a 5-paragraph essay, which my students will write about the topic of recess in the next lessons: Inside or Out-Organize Ideas for An Opinion Essay (Part 1 of 3), Inside or Out-Draft the Opinion Essay (Part 2 of 3), Inside or Out-Edit and Finalize Your Opinion Essay (Part 3 of 3). Composing a five-paragraph essay is the expectation from the district for the middle to end of 2nd grade. This dovetails with and builds on the Common Core State Standards’ expectations for writing an opinion piece that states and restates an opinion with reasons and and examples for evidence. This is a daunting task for my students, so we'll practice with one-paragraph essays until they become more secure with the process. What we are creating in this lesson is a simpler version of a full essay lesson we'll be completing later.
Let's Get Excited!
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
- "We are going to write a essay today about something that we think is the best. It's called an an 'opinion paragraph'."
- Title slide: "What do you see on the slide? - yes desserts. I'm guessing that you have an opinion about those!"
- "Our essay today will be only one paragraph. That's shorter than you're used to writing, but there are some new skills that I'm introducing."
At the beginning and end of this lesson, I made sure the kids saw the 'big picture' of what we were doing. My purpose in this lesson was to have them write a short simple opinion paragraph to practice forming opinions with reasons and examples and stating the introduction and concluding sentences.
Introduce the idea of opinions
- "What is an opinion? How can you share-by describing and writing-what you think is best?" (slide 2)
- "Opinions must have reasons and examples. You have to support your opinion with good reasons and examples. Otherwise it's just a statement that's unconvincing." (slide 3-4) Talk with the kids about giving reasons and opinions.
- "I'm writing one paragraph today so I'll share an opinion, give a reason and 2 examples."
- "A good writer needs 'transitions' These are words such as 'because', 'also', and 'too'. They help the writing sounds smooth and they link up the reasons and examples." I put these linking words on the whiteboard.
Share how to write about opinions
- "Today we'll write about the kind of desserts we like. We'll be using an organizer called 'the OREO organizer'."
- I explained the acronym 'OREO' and showed the examples to the kids on the powerpoint.
- Go through slides 5-11. Here's a peek of my explanation of the acronym.
- Focus on the sample opinions in the powerpoint. I did tailor these to my kids because I know the girls like pink and 'IronMan' is a popular movie. You could change these on the powerpoint to what is popular for your students.
- Focus on distinguishing reasons from examples. We spent several minutes talking about how reasons support the opinion. There has to be a direct line of support. We also talked about how examples have to be linked to the reason.
Model how to write a paragraph
- "If I'm going to write my opinion, I need to get organized. Here's an organizer - I'll keep my phrases short and then write longer sentences in my draft." Take a look at my discussion of the organizer.
- "I'm going to pick 'oreos' as my favorite dessert."
- "I'll write an opinion in the organizer - 'the best dessert - oreos'. That's the introduction."
- "Now I need reasons and an example. 'Taste wonderful' is my reason, and 'chocolatey' is an example of how they taste."
- "Let me add a second example - 'good to dip in milk'. Could an example be that they're brown? - no because brown is not example that supports that reason."
- "Now I'll restate my opinion at the end. 'favorite dessert - oreos'. That's the conclusion.
- "Next, I need to transfer my ideas to the lined paper and make sentences. I'll add linking words to connect the opinion, reasons and examples. Watch as I do this.
- Oreos are the best dessert. They taste wonderful because they are so chocolatey. In addition, this cookie is good to dip in milk and gets soft. Oreos are definitely my favorite dessert.
- "That's my opinion paragraph about oreos. I have an opinion at the beginning, a reason with 2 examples, and then an opinion restated at the end." Take a look at the completed whiteboard that we created.
I'm purposefully keeping this task straightforward because there are a lot of underlying skills to be practiced. The kids need to be able to state and restate a clear opinion, so I've limited the topics and given a clear model. They need to have a clear reason with supporting examples. I chose food because it's more concrete and the reasons can be similar across whichever dessert they choose. Then they also need to have good examples, which, again, have to be relevant to the reason. There was a lot of discussion while I modeled and I want to keep the task simple so that we have plenty of time. My students are using transition words, writing a paragraph, indenting-all skills introduced in previous lessons.
Create the organizer
- "Now it's your turn to pick a favorite dessert."
- "You'll state your opinion, give a reason why you like it with 2 good examples. You'll need to use good linking words to pull the reasons and examples together."
- "Make sure to restate your opinion at the end."
Students fill out the organizer:
- Pass out the worksheets.
- "Let's take a minutes and think about how we state opinions. What are some words we can start the sentence with?" They came up these opinion starters that I put on the whiteboard.
- Students should pick one a favorite dessert and give a reason and 2 examples of why they like it. They can pick one of the opinion 'starters' from the whiteboard.
- Let students work and encourage them to use good examples.
- When they're done, they can write out the essay on the lined paper.
- This is what one of my student's completed organizer looked like.
This was fairly easy for my kids. They are used to writing longer essays, so writing ideas for only one paragraph did not take them very long. They had LOTS of ideas about favorite desserts. I limited them to a choice of cupcake or ice cream (what was on the powerpoint) because this is practice for a longer writing sample.
Write the paper
Write the paper
- "Now you'll use your organizer to write a paragraph."
- Let the students write the paper from their organizer. Encourage them to use full sentences and avoid repeated words. (it is, it is, it is)
- I did help with vocabulary by putting words on the whiteboard that the students needed help with.
- This is what one student's organizer and paragraph looked like and a clearer picture of their completed paragraph.
At this point, the students are actually writing opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect the opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section (W.2.1) The opinion piece that they create will have all of the pieces that make for a great sample piece - introduction, conclusion, clear opinion statement and support for that opinion. Although I have simplified this down into a one paragraph essay about dessert, the kids are ultimately learning how to create a powerful piece of writing that will be molded into longer pieces about more controversial topics in future grades.
Mounting the paragraph
- My kids really wanted to use construction paper to make the dessert and then glue their paragraph on the picture. They kept is simple and it didn't take much time. Here's a picture of them cutting and the organizer and picture of one of my students.
- I reminded them that our next few lessons would encompass writing a 5 paragraph essay of their own opinions about another topic.
- Here's what it looked like when I was reviewing this lesson and previewing the next few lessons.
Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be scaffolded down, depending on student ability. These writing lessons are typically harder for students with academic challenges. The organizer should be helpful for them to get their ideas on paper, but be sure to write words on the board or their desk slate to help with spelling. You may need to prompt ideas with them - 'Why do you like ice cream?' 'How does it taste?' to help them with reasons and examples. Once the organizer is done, it should be easier for them to construct a paragraph, which will be edited later.