Opinion Writing: Tips & a Freebie

I must admit, I was so excited when we recently began our opinion writing unit. In fact...I accidentally planned for it 3 weeks before I was supposed to- oops! Hopefully today I can share a few ideas from my classroom..because in my opinion, this writing unit is the most fun!

 We began by discussing the difference between facts and opinions. This concept is a tricky one for my first graders to grasp. After providing them with multiple examples, we dove right in to some sorting. One way to help them remember was by defining a fact as something they would find in an informational text, not something they could argue. An opinion means people may have different views and believe that their thinking is correct.

I then used my Fact & Opinion Movement Sort by hanging the Opinion Ocean sign on one side of my classroom and Real Reef on the other. I read each statement while students "swam" to the correct sign. This worked well to get them up and moving and was also an easy way for me to spot who understood the concept and who was simply following others. If you want to try this Freebie in your classroom be sure to click one of the pictures below.

Once we mastered the difference between facts and opinions, we thought about topics students may have an opinion about. The majority of these turned into conversations about their favorites (foods, movies, toys, etc.). I allowed the discussion but made sure to reinforce that sharing our opinion does not mean that we just tell a fact about what we like; we are making a generalization that our belief is the best and providing evidence to support our belief

We created this anchor chart (pinterest inspired) to help us think about sentence starters and paragraph organization. It really is just too cute to hear 6 year olds telling guests in the classroom that they "prefer __ to __". The sentence starters and anchor charts are referred to each day and were well worth the time it took to make it with them.
Students then had daily practice writing about their opinions. Our Easter/Spring twist was shared in this previous post, combined with directed drawings. One of the class favorites was cookie writing. I passed out Oreos, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Rainbow M & M cookies to each child. They then had to choose their favorite and describe why they liked it. They used their newly formed paragraph writing skills to convince me to buy a certain kind of candy on Friday (based on adjectives), to decide between indoor and outdoor recess one day, and to convince a friend to read their book during Read to Someone time.

After all of this independent practice I decided to put their collaboration skills to the test- Team Hot Dog vs. Team Hamburger style. First students decided which food was the best and formed into two teams. Each team had to brainstorm supporting evidence for their food. I passed out large chart paper, markers, construction paper, and let the games begin. I was SO impressed by their teamwork, ability to write a shared piece, and creativity.

Once teams finished writing and creating a small craft as decoration, we read each poster aloud. Although we could not decide on a "winning" team, we did decide the task made us hungry and off to lunch we went :)
What are your favorite opinion writing lessons?

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