Writing Opinion Responses using Evidence from Newsela Texts for Secondary Students

Students learn to form opinions and respect opposing ideas by using research-based evidence in a Newsela text
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Reviewing Student Sample Opinion Responses
2:32

About This Strategy

While reading Newsela texts and Text Sets, students can gain exposure to various opinions on a particular topic, which can help to inform their own opinions on that topic. This strategy supports students to form an opinion on a topic after reading about it and use the evidence an author includes in a text to support their opinion and defend it. In this strategy, students also learn how to identify counterarguments while reading a text and acknowledge those counterarguments in their writing using a clear writing formula.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning:

  1. Select a topic for students to research in order to form opinions.

    • Consider choosing a topic that relates to your current unit of study.

    • To find Opinion articles on Newsela, simply navigate to the "News" tab and click on the "Opinion" section (a link is also provided in the Resources section below).

  2. Find texts or Text Sets on Newsela that have at least two opinions about the topic.

  3. Develop a graphic organizer or writing framework on how to write an opinion response (see below for a sample graphic organizer).

  4. Develop a rubric to score students' writing responses.

Student Preparation:

  1. Introduce the topic of the article you chose and discuss with a partner how strong opinions need to be supported by text evidence. 

  2. Share sample responses with students and ask them to evaluate the responses to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each response, based on the rubric you shared.

  3. Students should identify the topic in their graphic organizer and make an initial claim based on their opinion prior to reading the Newsela article and record their claim in their graphic organizer.

  4. Provide some background knowledge on the topic and poll students to see their initial thoughts and feelings prior to reading the article as well as after reading the article.

  5. Instruct students how to identify claims and counterclaims in a text:

    • Identify key words such as "however," "but," and "on the other hand."

    • Model how to use highlighting tools to identify claims and counterclaims. For example, use green to highlight the claim and pink to highlight counterclaims.

    • Explain to students that annotating evidence will also help when writing their response.

    • Be specific in choosing your text evidence . Don’t over-highlight; Choose the specific text evidence that really makes your point.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Instruct students to read and annotate two Newsela articles in order to find evidence to support or refute their opinion or claim. Have students use the annotation colors below to identify evidence that supports their claim or presents a counterclaim

    • GREEN for evidence that supports their opinion or claim

    • RED for evidence that refutes their opinion or claim.

  2. Explain that students will use their highlighted text evidence in their final written response. 

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Present students with a Write Prompt in Newsela that refers back to the initial opinion question. Students should utilize the Write Prompt activity in Newsela to respond to one of the following questions:

    • How has your opinion on the topic changed by reading the article?

    • What part of the article changed your opinion of the article?

    • Why do you think the author wrote this article? Which point are they trying to impress upon their readers?

    • NOTE: Teachers can edit writing prompts before or after assigning an article. Visit the link below to find out how!

  2. Students should use text evidence to support their response to the Write Prompt and identify evidence acknowledging the counterclaim.

    • Use annotations in Newsela and evidence from the graphic organizer to choose the strongest evidence.

    • TIP: Provide a framework for responses. (See sample framework in the Resources section below.)

  3. Possible Extension Activities:

    • Students are encouraged to present their Write Prompt response to the class. Then, encourage classmates to participate in a discussion by stating whether they agree or disagree:

      • Use discussion prompts such as:

        • I agree with you because…

        • I respectfully disagree with you because…

      • Refer to the Fishbowl discussion strategy in the BetterLesson Lab to learn more about a possible student-led discussion

    • As an alternative, teachers can ask students to participate in an Online Discussion Board through Google Classroom. Students can write their opinion of the question, then respond to one another in written responses.

Recommended Newsela Texts or Text Sets

Student Opinion: Android phones are a better deal than Apple's iPhones

  • Essential Question: Which factors are most important in choosing a new cell phone?
  • Grade Level: 6-8
  • Content Area: ELA

Opinion: U.S. schools don't give students enough gym time

  • Essential Question: How much time should students be spending on physical activity?
  • Grade Level: 7-12
  • Content Area: ELA

Bullying Matters

  • Essential Question: What effects does bullying have on kids now and in the future?
  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: Social Studies/ELA

Human Effects on the Environment

  • Essential Question: In what ways can humans make a positive effect on the environment?
  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: Science

EL Modifications

Students can build upon their background knowledge and relate topics to their own schema and personal opinions, further deepening their learning. 

Modifications:

  • Differentiate Vocabulary:

    • Review the article or Text Set prior to implementation in the classroom. 

    • Determine vocabulary that might be challenging.

    • Pre-teach vocabulary using flashcards.

  • Suggested articles available in Spanish:

    • Student Opinion: Android phones are a better deal than Apple's iPhones

    • Opinion: U.S. schools don't give students enough gym time

    • Student Opinion: Video gaming can be harmless and even helpful

  • Provide an Anticipation Guide to give students some background knowledge about the topic they will read about.

  • Provide students with sentence starters to help them frame statements supporting or defending their opinion. (Review the ASCD Journal link in resources for additional information on providing support for ELs.)

Questions to Consider

  • Teachers should provide annotations for students to respond to in an entire text set. This is a Newsela PRO feature! For teachers without a Newsela PRO subscription, guiding questions could be typed and provided for students on paper, as they read.