It seems everyone has an opinion these days, and most of us don’t aren’t too shy about sharing them! I’ve even heard some make the claim that opinion is the lowest form of knowledge. Maybe…but that doesn’t change the reality that opinion writing is now included in my curriculum. Today’s post begins a series about opinion writing with a focus on how I taught it to my 4th graders. Before we begin, let’s start with a clear understanding of the differences between opinion, persuasive, and argumentative writing. Are they the same or not?
Persuasive Writing 101
For years my curriculum required students to write a persuasive essay. The focus was on convincing the reader to take an action or accept a belief as true. We worked hard at asking students to write in authentic situations (for example, more recess or a longer lunch period) about which they could also write passionately. I loved to use children’s literature to reinforce how other writers wrote persuasively. My favorite texts were I Wanna Iguana and Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School.
What’s the Difference, Anyway?
The focus has shifted away from persuasive essays in recent years, however. We now teach students how to write an opinion essay – a small but distinct difference. The graphic below from Write Steps Writing breaks down the differences between what we used to teach students (persuasive), what we teach them now (opinion), and what will be expected of them in the future (argument) as they progress through school.
Another excellent website is The Six Trait Gurus. This post goes into great detail about the differences with LOTS of instructional suggestions for teachers.
My focus in the next several posts will be about opinion writing – specifically how I taught it to my students. We spent 6 weeks on our unit of study, with a different prompt every week. The first week was an introduction to the genre, then 4 weeks of practice prompts with the (you guessed it) assessment prompt the final week. At the end of this week I’ll be offering one prompt as a free download if your interested. I’m challenging myself to publish a lot more posts than I normally would, but I really enjoyed this unit and have lots of thoughts I want to share. Happy teaching!