During the Cue Set, scholars analyze different pieces of opinion writing in order to determine what the characteristics are of strong opinion pieces. This is day 1 of a lesson-cycle surrounding creating your own opinion writing.
Scholars read through the opinion pieces that i provided for them (Student Samples - scroll to pg. 14). Scholars draw +'s next to strong parts and -'s next to weak parts. Finally, they write deltas and write what they would change. In table groups, scholars read through 1 opinion piece and mark it independently. Then, as a group, they create a chart of positives, negatives and delta's. Next, scholars are numbered 1-4 in their table group. All 1's get together, 2's, 3's and 4's. Now the scholars are in groups where each scholar read a different opinion piece. Scholars now share what their table group came up with (delta's, positives and negatives).
This is a great jigsaw activity because it gets kids up and moving about the room. This enhances engagement. Also, it helps scholars to work with other students with whom they usually do not work. Finally, scholars are successful because of all of the group work that they do to prepare to share so this helps both lower and higher level scholars.
Once the jigsaw is finished, we come back together as a whole group and discuss what we find. We create a whole class +'s and -'s T-chart for opinion writing. This chart will serve to anchor our writing as we move forward to create our own opinion pieces.
I like to do an exploration on day 1 instead of lecturing because it allows scholars the opportunity to come up with their own answers rather than rely on me to dispense knowledge. I, of course, have a good idea of the characteristics of strong opinion writing. I am prepared to step-in and support as-needed.
During the Teaching Strategy, we review the task description for the opinion piece. Scholars read the TASK DESCRIPTION for the American Revolution independently, discuss in table groups for 1 minute and write down their questions as a table group for 2 minutes. Finally, each table asks me any questions that they generated. The idea here is that scholars have the opportunity to review the task description and ask each other questions before they bring their questions to me.
Next, I model how to begin my research for the project. Scholars will have the opportunity to begin their own research during independent practice. It is important that scholars see me begin my research so they know the questions they should ask themselves and the process that a strong writer's brain goes through as they research. I will ask myself questions like, "Is this fact relevant to the point I am trying to make?" If not, then DON'T WRITE IT DOWN!!!
During this time scholars begin their research using research notes. We use iPads, books that are in their book baggies and their social studies text to begin our research. Our ELL co-teacher pulls a small group to give them accommodations and help them with their research. I conference individually with scholars to ensure that they are on the right track and to push their thinking. When the 45 minutes are over, all scholars should have finished their research. Additional research should take place at home.
Here are scholars working hard!