As we begin our unit on opinion writing, I wanted my students to realize that there are many different types of opinion statements…from as simple as requiring a yes or no answer (“Do you agree that school uniforms should be required?”) to more numerical/quantifiable opinions (“How many days long should our school year be?”) to more open-ended statements requiring students to provide their own idea (“In your opinion, what is the best brand of pizza?”).
To get my students thinking, I provided them with 32 topics on cards and asked them to work with a team to sort them into categories and to be ready to give each category a label. I wasn’t really interested in a “correct” answer—just in getting them to realize that opinion statements come in many shapes and sizes! Different groups sorted in different ways, and it was a lot of fun to talk about all the different categories they made. This was our first day of our opinion writing unit—and the students got REALLY excited about some of the topics!
By the time we finished, we were able to have a great discussion about what an opinion is and how when we write about our opinions, we need to be able to state them clearly and back them up with several strong, reasonable reasons! Not bad for a day’s work!
After day 1, many of my students were buzzing about topics that they were super interested in writing about...so mission accomplished! Today, I asked the students to use the cards again to do another sort…but this time the sort became a little more personal. I asked them to work on their own using the “mini cards” to sort them in a new way…topics they have strong feelings about, topics that they are more neutral about, and topics that they aren’t interested in very much at all. Once they were sorted, I had them glue their “I totally could see myself writing about this!” cards right into their writing notebook. I had them talk with their table groups about their choices—and some students actually added some new choices onto their lists. It was fun to see them take opinions that were on the cards and "tweak" them to be more to their liking.
By the time we finished this lesson, students were able to see that the topics that interested them the most were the ones where they had some experiences or many compelling reasons why they felt the way they did. I reminded them that good writers choose topics they feel “expert” on—or that they can become experts on! Before we finished, I asked them to pick one topic to write on the planning page so they would be ready to write on day 3! We will do a few days of "quick writes" on these topics before we really dig into a true "essay" format.
Interested in these cards? I put everything I use for my first 3 days in one nice and tidy package! Click the image below if you are interested.