Today, you’re going to get a bunch of teaching opinion writing tips. I’m going to what best practices I think you can follow. I hope that you’re going to walk away with a clear understanding of what is expected when teaching this standard. I also hope you walk away with some fun ideas and activities to add to your lesson plans! All of the images you see below (except for the read-alouds) are part of my ELA writing units. The links to all grade levels are at the bottom!
Let’s dive into the opinion writing standards
Common Core writing domain focuses on three big types of writing: informative, narrative, and today’s topic OPINION WRITING! It begins kindergarten and each year, gets progressively more in depth and detailed. Here is a look at K-5’s expectations for opinion writing, according to Common Core.
- Kinder: Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is...).
- 1st: Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion and provide some sense of closure.
- 2nd: Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.
- 3rd: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons. (a- Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.) (b- Provide reasons that support the opinion.) (c- Use linking words and phrases (e.g., because, therefore, since, for example) to connect opinion and reasons.) (d- Provide a concluding statement or section.)
- 4th: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information. (a- Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer’s purpose.) (b- Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.) (c- Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases (e.g., for instance, in order to, in addition).) (d- Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.)
Outline of how to teach opinion writing…
- What is opinion writing?
- How do I state an opinion?
- Supporting your opinion
- Introductions explicit teaching
- Conclusions explicit teaching
- Provide lots of practice
If you teach opinion writing broken up in parts like this, your students can focus on each part. That way, they can get a true grasp of what each piece requires and how to write it.
Load up on Mentor Texts
Every single part of this blog post will include mentor texts. Each time you teach your students about a component of opinion writing, use a strong example! Mentor texts are great because students can see what they’re learning in engaging or familiar books. Then, it can help them with their own practice. Each of the book links below are affiliate links to Amazon.
- Hey Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose
- I Don’t Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty
- My Teacher for President by Kay Winters
- The Perfect Pet by Margie Palatini
- I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff
- I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff
- The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
- Red is Best by Kathy Stinson
- Earrings by Judith Viorst
- Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
- Click, Clack, Moo by Doreen Cronin
First, teach WHAT Opinion Writing is
When you begin your opinion writing unit, you of course need to start with teaching them what it is. You will be showing them the framework of an opinion writing piece. First, create an anchor chart (or use one provided to you in my ELA units). Then, as you explore texts, examples, and activities, you can refer back to this anchor chart to teach opinion writing framework.
Now, it’s time to get the students talking. Give them an engaging partner talk game, such as Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up or Mix-Pair-Share. When they’re with a partner, ask them questions about the actual framework. Ask them the purposes of each component. This will help strengthen their writing when it’s time to start writing independently.
After that, you can start showing them real-world examples. Start with read-alouds and mentor texts. See if students can identify the introduction, opinion sentence, support, and conclusion. Then, give them examples that aren’t tied to a picture book. Above, you see two different activities. One of them asks students to put a puzzle together of sample sentences for each component. The other is a cut and glue activity where they have to sort sample sentences. (Links to all resources are at the bottom of the blog post.)
Stating an Opinion
Next, it’s time to simply teach them how to state an opinion. If you’re in kinder or first grade, you may have to take a step back and teach what an opinion is and how it’s different from a fact. But… once that’s determined, you can start teaching opinion sentences.
Make a class anchor chart or display a stem poster in your classroom. This will help trigger their ability to form an opinion sentence. Then, give them a few engaging partner activities. For example, the image above shows a partner game where students are shown an Opinion Stem chart and one picture topic card at a time. They will form an opinion sentence about that topic using a different stem each time.
It’s also important to teach your writers the difference between strong and weak opinion sentences. There is a big difference between “I like pizza” and “Pizza is my favorite dinner”. One way to practice this is to have students sort different sample sentences into the strong and weak categories.
Then, it’s time to let them practice! Try using one of the templates in the ELA unit like the one shown above. It gives students a collection of sentence stems and a topic. They will have to form an opinion sentence using a mixture of all these options!
Dive deeper with reasons
Once you get into second, third, fourth grade (and above), you’re going to be required to teach students how to support their opinion. The big thing that can really help is just the word ‘why’. This helps trigger students to think of the reasons behind their opinion. Once they get to 2nd grade, they have to be able to give reasons why they like or dislike something. Try using an opinion writing anchor chart explaining support.
Now that you’ve taught your students HOW to support their reasons, it’s time to practice. Give them lots of opportunities to try supporting opinions with reasons. There are two activities shown in the image above. First, you have a picture card with an opinion sentence. Students will work with a partner to try to create a strong reason to support this opinion. Next, there is an opinion sentence strip that students will draw and try to create a strong support.
Move onto INTRODUCTIONS when teaching opinion writing
One of the biggest pieces to teaching opinion writing is the introduction. This is the hook. This is where your students are going to try to draw their audience in. First, teach introductions explicitly using an anchor chart or poster from my ELA units. Then, choose one or two mentor texts to show how they’ve used introductions to hook their readers.
It’s a great idea to show students what a strong introduction looks like with modeling. Another way is to give them a matching activity where they have to read introduction sentences and sort them.
Here is another game example for students to participate in. They will match three cards together. First, they will match the topic card and a sample introduction. Then, they will match a strong opinion sentence to follow up their introduction sentence. While playing this game, students can get a strong sense of what an introduction paragraph will look like in a multi-paragraph paper.
Finish up with CONCLUSIONS
Next, you’ll teach conclusions explicitly. Just like you did with introductions, conclusions need to start with an anchor chart or discussion of a poster. Students can learn conclusion stems, reasons for conclusions, and why they’re used. After teaching opinion writing conclusions explicitly, show students examples with mentor texts from the list above. Read one or two mentor texts and discuss what conclusions were used.
Give your students lots of practice with writing conclusions. Hands-on writing activities and matching games are two ways to give them practice singling out conclusions. Above, you see a flip book. They will fold and snip along the dotted edges. Under each flap, students will write an example of each type of conclusion (such as final facts, repeated opinions, personal experiences, and offering a suggestion.
Provide lots of opportunities to practice!
In my ELA units, I also offer 3-4 final writing pieces. They’re presented as lesson plans, so you can still walk students through these steps. First, they’ll be presented with their prompt. The prompt shown above asks which living condition would be worse: Arctic or desert. Then, the steps of the lesson plans walk students through brainstorming, pre-writing, and drafting their papers.
Finally, you’ve taught all the pieces of your opinion writing unit. Therefore, it’s time to practice, practice, practice. Once you teach students to write an opinion piece from start to finish, give them different prompts to write about in their journals. Or they could even write about these as a final opinion writing piece! Choose high-interest and engaging topics for students to write about.
Are you ready for your Opinion Writing resources?
- Kindergarten Opinion Writing Unit
- 1st Grade Opinion Writing Unit
- 2nd Grade Opinion Writing Unit
- 3rd Grade Opinion Writing Unit
- 4th Grade Opinion Writing Unit
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