By Laureen S, First-Grade Teacher, Guest Blogger
When it comes to writing, I think opinion writing is the best writing unit of my entire school year! Today's blog post will share an oral language activity, a writing activity, and leveled books that will be perfect mentor texts to get your students writing.
Start with an Oral Language Activity
I introduce my first opinion writing lesson with an oral language activity that involves "Would You Rather?" cards to create the bridge into a writing activity. This activity uses the traditional Think, Pair, Share technique to get students talking. If you haven’t done this in your classroom, yet a quick model will show students how to do it and also learn the expectations. You can click on this image for your free download of "Would You Rather?" cards.
There are two ways to use the "Would You Rather?" cards. You can read them orally to the whole class (or to a small group) to discuss at the same time. You can also give each pair of students a card to read and discuss with each other. Encourage students to not only share their opinion but also the reason they have the opinion.
I would now gather my students together as a group and ask them what they think an opinion is. Help them develop their own understanding that an opinion is what we think, feel, or believe about something and show them the anchor chart, which I have included in this free downloadable writing activity.
Plan Writing Activities Around Topics That Elicit Student Participation
If you're wondering what students can easily form opinions about, food should easily come to mind. Luckily there is a wide assortment of narrative and informational texts in a food topic set. For example, I Like Breakfast is a level A narrative text that opens the door for writing about what kids think is the best breakfast food.
Another is Marvelous Milk which would be a perfect mentor text to begin a discussion about whether regular or chocolate milk. On a side note, have you seen the plush Mrs. Wishy-Washy doll? She's adorable! My opinion is that Mrs. Wishy-Washy is one of the best storybook characters!
With that said, now you know why my "Would You Rather?" cards are Mrs. Wishy-Washy themed! One of my favorite Wishy-Washy books is Wishy-Washy Ice Cream. It is perfect for my first-graders with its repetitive text, word families, beginning blends, and punctuation. There is even a teacher’s resource page included inside the book to make your guided reading lesson planning easy!
Implement a Graphic Organizer for Writing
After reading Wishy-Washy Ice Cream, I have my students generate a list of ice-cream flavors. This is a perfect shared writing activity while students help sound out the spelling of each word. Each time I do this I learn about new flavors that I didn’t even know existed! After the list is generated I get my students to tell their elbow neighbor which flavor they think is the best. Then I pass out the graphic organizer, which you can find by clicking this image.
Next, I model stating my opinion in a complete sentence by saying the following: I think chocolate chip cookie dough is the best ice cream flavor. If this is their first opinion writing lesson, expect many to copy your sentence structure. As time goes on, their confidence will improve.
Afterward, I gather my students together and facilitate a discussion about the reasons why we made our choice. I use the following sentence starters: I believe . . . I think . . . In my opinion . . . I feel . . . Students will then write their reasons for their choice. To finish, I have my students restate their opinion.
The final step is to have students use their graphic organizers to write. The free download above includes two options with varied writing lines, but you could also use a journal.
To sum up this post, I will use the same format I described today:
Be sure to come back soon to learn more engaging literacy ideas!
~~~Laureen is a first-grade teacher in Canada. She has been teaching kindergarten and grade one for more than twenty years. Laureen loves to make learning fun and you can find her at her blog, Teach With Laughter. You can also visit her TPT page here.