At the beginning of our Opinion Writing Unit, the children learned that persuasive writers look at their world and imagine how it could be better to develop ideas for possible writing projects. They saw problems that needed to be addressed and imagined solutions, and then they wrote quick persuasive speeches. We wrote a persuasive speech together on a shared topic. Through our shared experience, the students learned how to write a structured persuasive speech that contains the claim, reasons to support their claim, transition words to connect the various parts of their pieces, and a variety of evidence (personal stories, specific examples, observations) to support their reasons. We also focused on considering our audience and the appropriate word choice in light of that audience.
After our first immersion in the opinion genre, the students will draft many more persuasive speeches, set writing goals for themselves, and choose a seed topic that they will take through the writing process. Their ideas will be developed, drafted, revised, edited, and published. At the end of this bend of our unit, each child will deliver his or her speech to a small group. Later in the unit, the students will transfer and apply what they learned about writing persuasive speeches to writing other types of opinion pieces-petitions, editorials, persuasive letters, etc. At the end of the unit, the students will publish and showcase their pieces.
The students will utilize what they learn about opinion writing while writing literary essays. They will learn to read text closely in order to experience a story as intensely as possible. This will allow them to notice the details of a story and let those details lead them to develop fresh, provocative ideas. They will pay special attention to a character's traits, motivations, struggles, and changes in a story. Then they will write a thesis that is interesting and defensible with evidence from the text. The students will examine sample literary essays and identify the parts, noticing how they are put together. They will draft their own essay by linking the supporting evidence into a cohesive whole, by using repetition of phrases or lines to hold the essay together, and by adding introductory and closing paragraphs. The students will celebrate their finished work by reading and discussing literary essays in the form of book talks.