Saturday, April 26, 2014

What's Your Opinion?? From Start to Finish...

I love teaching opinion writing! It's a fantastic way to teach and reinforce paragraph writing. Not to mention, it gives my students a voice. 

Every good writing genre needs a few mentor texts! Have you read these "I Wanna..." books?? They are a MUST for any classroom, not matter what grade level. These books helped us come up with some fantastic opinion writing ideas! Our writing theme was writing opinion letters to our parents in the style of the "I Wanna..." books. 

We brainstormed what it was that we wanted, but we knew we had to have convincing reasons before we sent the letters to our parents! 

Using real-world examples of opinion writing, we discussed the types of reasons opinion writers used. After reading several different examples of opinion writing (I found many sources on the internet), my students analyzed what types of arguments the author used. 

This really helped to strengthen our own writing since we were sure to use many different types of supporting arguments to try and  convince our parents. 

When it comes to writing a paragraph, how to begin is sometimes the hardest part. I know many teaches use different phrases to describe the first sentence in our writing. The phrase I use with my kiddos is, "starter sentence." Before we began writing the rough draft of our paragraph, we wrote down four different types of starter sentences and chose our best one to use in our writing. 

Students learn that they can start a paragraph with a...

Simple Sentence
Number Sentence (uses a number or a quantitative phrase)
Situation Stance (ideas separated by a comma)

The great thing about writing several starter sentences is that students can also use a starter sentence as a conclusion. 

We had so much fun writing our opinion letters! My second graders typed their letters and drew a picture to match to publish their writing. I hung their letters up to showcase them during conferences. 

And there you have it! Our opinions have been heard! 

What's your opinion on opinion writing!? Share some of your ideas below!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bright Idea: Holding Kids Accountable for Small Group Work

Are you loving all these great Bright Ideas!?!

A few years ago, I picked-up an idea at a GLAD training that I absolutely love and has been a life saver when it comes to holding students accountable for small group work. It works amazingly! 

To help keep all kids on-task, working, and engaged in small groups, I give each group member a colored marker. Students sign their name with that color so I know what color belongs to each student

When students do their group work, they use their assigned color when writing. This makes it so easy to see who did what part of the group work. 

Not to mention, the students know I will be looking to see if each group member is doing an equal amount of writing. Kids who usually don't do much become more actively involved. Kids who usually do all of the work are now working to get their other group members more involved. 

Works like a charm! 

My students recently learned about animals found on the Oregon coast while working on our STEM project. Each group created a poster to share with the class about the animal they studied. I used this strategy to keep each group member accountable for their work. 

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