Even though my students wrapped up our 6-week unit of study on opinion writing, now that it’s over I’m still busy reflecting on what we learned. In many ways I enjoy the reflecting about a lesson just as much as I enjoy actually teaching the lesson! I like to reflect on what worked, what I learned, and how can I make it just a little bit better next time. That impossible quest for perfection doesn’t discourage me…it motivates me to keep getting better, keep learning, and keep growing as an educator. Reflecting is my thing. I hope you have a way to keep your energy level high as the school year progresses.
Opinion Writing: Day #2
So last week was all about the first day of a writing week in my 4th grade classroom with opinion writing. I know – I really dragged it out, but I didn’t want monster-size posts! In keeping with that theme, the posts for this week will all focus on how I structure the second day with a writer’s craft mini-lesson and our graphic organizer. Let’s get started!
Mapping It Out
Given that I only have 30 short, sweet minutes in my writer’s workshop (hey – at least I get one every day, right?), I don’t spend a lot of time on our writer’s craft mini-lesson. Emphasis is on the “mini” part of our mini-lesson! I mapped out my entire writing curriculum and then determined what writer’s craft skills students would need for each of the six genres I would be teaching. Since the first week of each unit is devoted to introducing the genre, and the last week is the assessment that left me with four mini-lessons per genre. Then I matched those craft lessons with the most appropriate genre while also considering the time in the school year. For instance, I didn’t want to teach kids about how to hook their readers with an interesting introduction in April.
Writer’s Craft Opinion Writing Topics
For opinion writing I selected four writer’s craft topics:
- support your opinions with reasons
- elaborating with examples and details
- linking opinions with transitions
- varying sentence beginnings
That’s the order I also presented them, but you could honestly teach those lessons in the order that best suited your students needs given their writing abilities. These “writing moves” are also highlighted in the opinion writing model essay, which is posted in my classroom as an anchor chart.
Step-by-Step Strategy Instruction
Students receive a handout at the beginning of the mini-lesson like the one shown below. I display it on our Promethean board and we discuss the teaching points in the box. Every writer’s craft mini-lesson has a strategy. I think it’s important to give kids a step-by-step strategy they can use as they develop their writing skills. Gradually, as they practice and apply these strategies in their writing, young writers can incorporate these writing moves without as much reliance on a step-by-step approach. There are examples and some practice exercises in the mini-lesson before we finish and move on to the graphic organizer. That’s it – short and sweet. We don’t spend more than 5-7 minutes on it because I simply don’t have the time.
Last week I shared one free opinion writing prompt that included a writer’s craft mini-lesson. Click here if you would like that prompt for yourself. Are you able to incorporate time for writer’s craft in your writing workshop? Which craft lessons do you think kids need the most? Tomorrow I will begin sharing about our graphic organizer for opinion writing. Happy teaching!