Following a lightning quick writer’s craft mini-lesson (see yesterday’s post for more details), the writers in Room 411 dive right into a graphic organizer for our opinion writing essays. The graphic organizer I designed for my students during our opinion writing unit has several parts so I’m going to break it down into three separate posts. Today I’m focusing on the top section with a writing hook and topic sentence. Taken together this part of the graphic organizer represents what will become the first paragraph in our essays.
Amazing Anchor Charts
I freely admit to using other resources created by outstanding teacher-authors through TpT. One of those is a set of anchor charts from Teaching in the Tongass. My students have learned a lot about how to write a really interesting hook to grab their readers’ attention. The hook anchor chart is FREE! Once I had it posted in my classroom I was quite literally hooked myself, and I had to purchase the conclusions chart to go with it.
Topic Sentences for Opinion Essays
Once students have at least tentatively planned their writing “hook” on their graphic organizer, it’s time to work on a topic sentence. This is the foundation for the entire essay so it’s important that it be clearly stated and well-written. I encourage students to write their topic sentences using a complex sentence structure as I think it allows them to express their ideas and is grade-appropriate. If they followed directions the day before in our writer’s workshop, students should have the basis for their topic sentence in the “My Opinion” box on the Analysis Chart.
While I provide my students with a ready-to-go graphic organizer, I also prepare them for the reality of an assessment situation where such supports are not provided. We discuss and practice making our own organizers in our Writer’s Notebook. Once students are familiar with the “model” of the graphic organizer I have provided, they can use that as the pattern for making their own. As long as they understand the process for writing, they can easily learn how to organize their ideas during an assessment.
Don’t put that organizer away just yet – tomorrow I’ll focus on the middle section, which forms the bulk of our essay and is packed with details. Happy teaching!