My favorite subject to teach is writing and opinion writing is probably the easiest to teach. Everyone has an opinion about something, even a 6 or 7 year old kid. Sometimes their opinions about subjects are pretty hilarious, you can really hear their parent’s opinions on topics come out in the kids.
Many teachers don’t like teaching writing..
A lot of teachers shy away from writing because they don’t know how to teach it. I was never taught how to teach writing, but I love writing so much that I set out to discover, learn and create a program that works.
Since Opinion Writing or Persuasive as some call it, is the easiest of the three required genres (Opinion/Persuasive, Narrative and Informational), I recommend doing it near the beginning of the school year.
It can start with something as simple as an opinion sentence. “I like pizza” and depending on their level of writing skills can end up being a 8 sentences or more paper all about how they like pizza. I have 1st graders start the school year not writing any sentences and ending the year writing 12 sentences. It is very doable and teachable.
But where do you even begin?
Well you need to build up some excitement about Opinions and probably about writing. I have about 2/3 of my class each year leave saying that “writing is my favorite subject”. It becomes their favorite because of their success, being able to express themselves and I make it fun.
Make sure all your students know they have an opinion and it is OK for them to state it. They also need to know what a fact is and the difference. We spend the first few days practicing what Opinions are vs. Facts. If your interested in one of the activities, CLICK HERE for a FREE OPINION VS FACT GAME. This is a sample activity of how we practice.
Once students have the concept about Fact vs. Opinion, they are almost ready to write. Almost… because this concept as well as any other new concept needs to be demonstrated first.
Teacher Led Writing
I do a teacher led writing activity where I let student’s ideas be our guide. I use the Story Maps and the graphic organizers which are included in the in the Opinion Writing Unit.
So, I might say, “Should we write about pizza or ice cream today?”
“Ok, so you chose pizza. Raise your hand if you like pizza?” (Pick the majority, usually it is that most like pizza which makes it easiest to write about).
“So most of us chose that we like pizza. So what would be our opinion about pizza.”
Write : I like pizza.
“Now why do we like pizza. Turn to the person next to you and tell them why you like pizza. If you like it, tell them why not.”
Take some same student reasons why they like pizza. The lesson goes on.
This is just the beginning of teaching students about opinions and having reasons for their opinions and then putting that into writing.
The other fun use for Opinion writing is tying it into the theme you are teaching in history or science.
For example, after teaching about the solar system, the planets and the constellations, your Opinion Writing prompt could be:
What was your favorite Planet? OR What was your favorite Folktale Story about the constellations?
At the beginning of the school year: What is your favorite class rule and why do you like that one?
At the end of the school year: What was your favorite thing we did this year?
Lastly, when teaching writing to kids, using the Writer’s Workshop model works really well. It really helps organize your writing block. For more information on how that is set up, check out my article about How to Set up Writer’s Workshop.
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