Oh opinion writing. When kids are younger opinion writing is SO MUCH FUN because they just write to talk about what they like, but as they get older it gets a little more difficult. They are reading content and having to base their opinion off of content that they read. It is challenging for their little minds.
When I start teaching opinion writing using content from other sources I start super simple. I have the kiddos read a simple news article and then write if they agree or disagree with the author and why. During this simple start I don’t have the kiddos spend loads of time researching, I don’t have them quote text, and I do it on simple topics.
During this “start simple” phase I will have the kiddos do 5-10 different short opinion writings to just practice the skill. Below I linked 5 good news articles that you can use for the “start simple” phase!
One Passage, Then Two
To start, you want your kiddos to be able to use research from one passage to support their opinion before you start givign them multiple sources.
You can use the same news articles above, but begin to teach students how to pull information from that source to support their opinion or state why their opinion doesn’t match theirs.
Once you see that your students are starting to get this idea, then you can add in a second source that has a differing opinion.
Highlighters, Highlighters, Highlighters
Always have kiddos highlight the main points in the passage they are reading. Once they have them highlighted it then it makes it easy to go back and add it to their opinion. Plus, a kid loves a good highlighter.
Organize It First
Teach your kiddos to make a quick graphic organizer with their ideas.
How I teach my students to do this…
- Read the passages one time and highlight the interesting information or the ideas that you think are important
- Draw a box on your paper and write your opinion
- Then, draw lines that connect 5 other boxes
- Read the passage again and fill in the five boxes with your reasons. If they reasons agree with the information in the passage, put a star, if they don’t then do not.
This a simple way to teach them to use graphic organizers if they don’t have one ready for them. It is important that students understand prewriting without the pretty organizer that we give them typically.
Example Practice Units
Each year, for opinion writing, you can read two mentor texts and do practice units on these! I love tying this in with a book because it makes it more interesting for students.
We read, “A Fine, Fine School” by Sharon Creech. Then, we write an opinion essay about if we should have year-round school or not!
During this unit, you can focus on teaching your students how to writing an opening and closing paragraph to go with their writing!
Another unit I typically focus on in the spring is “The Great Kapok Tree” by Lynne Cherry. Here they learn all about deforestation and get to write their opinion with sources to support their opinion!