Common Core Connection and Introduction
With Common Core Standard W.1.1, students need to be able to write and opinion piece where they introduce the topic, state an opinion, supply reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure. I thought this would be a nice unit to start after finishing the unit on point of view because students can respond by expressing their own personal point of view.
The standard covers a lot of skills, so I think it needs to be broken down into several lessons. This lesson specifically focuses on writing an opinion. I am focusing on the topic sentence expressing an opinion, several details, and a closing. The components of a letter, developing a topic sentence, and creating a closing sentence are topics for at least one lesson each. I have actually already taught lessons covering these skills, but my students have not all mastered those skills. It might be a good idea to cover these topics before beginning this lesson on writing an opinion letter.
I show my class the lesson image as to get them thinking about pets. This is my son's cat that he had to convince me to allow him to keep in the house. I really am allergic to cats, but he loves him so much that I agreed. He told he he has very soft fur, he loves me, and he would not hurt anything. So, I was convinced that I should allow him to move the cat's home from our barn to our house. I tell my story to my class.
I then tell the students that they will now create a letter to their parents to convince them that they need a pet. The pet can be any kind they want. When I was little I wanted a horse so bad that I spent years convincing my parents to allow me to have one. So, it is their chance to convince their parents to allow them to have a pet. The video below helps my students understand what an opinion is. This is a new concept so I try to add very kind of support I can to help the students understand. So, I play the video, and ask the class to chant: I can write a letter expressing my opinion.
I allow volunteers to tell me what to write as I begin the letter. We have written letters throughout this unit, so my students have a good idea of how to start. I ask the class questions like, "why I am capitalizing," "why do I need to add the date," and "why do I add commas." Students tell me how to write the greeting and they are asked to explain the reasons that I am doing the things I am doing.
Then we begin with the first sentence. I ask the students to discuss what the first sentence should say. I hope they tell each other that it should contain the topic and the purpose for the letter: in this case, our opinion. If our first ideas are off-track, I ask them what the first sentences from our other letters were like. I also ask other students to agree or disagree.
The learners then discuss three reasons that they need a pet. Each reason has to be supported by some type of evidence. Then the students discuss the closing sentence. I allow them to volunteer suggestions for the closure. We decide on a closure that sums up our point. Last, the I model writing as I add the closing sentence. The students tell me what to write as I add the closing and signature.
Here is a picture of the Board Work when we were finished.
Students stay at their desks and write their own letter to their parents or guardians trying to convince them that they need a pet. Early finishers can illustrate a picture of the pet they want. The students use a Checklist to evaluate their work, and make sure they include all the components.
I walk around and help students stay on track by asking questions.
Check out the cute picture: We Convinced One Mom. We actually convinced her mom to get her a puppy! So, yes this lesson was designed based on my students interests. Many of them wanted a pet.
Students move to the center tables and evaluate each others work. The students give each other feedback based on the necessary components of an opinion letter.
They have to have:
I write these components on the board for students to reference. The underlined ones are really the focus of the lesson.
Students work on their speaking and listening skills as they form two lines. Line one reads their work to line two as line two listens. Then they switch. I listen closely to comment on the few speakers I heard. My comments are academic. I might say that is a very convincing reason. I have an example of student work in the resources section (Student Work).
Student write one thing they learned on a sticky note and paste it on the Tweet Board (Tweet). I make notes so I know who I need to reteach in small group. I sometimes even send extra homework on specific skills to certain students.
I restate the lesson goal and students do the same. I can write a letter expressing my opinion. This is a nice strategy to get students to remember the lesson goal.