One of the things that I miss most about classroom teaching is teaching writing. I get to do a little bit of writing in my current position, but it's not as in depth as when I was a classroom teacher. Writing was always such a challenge to teach for various reasons, but I always enjoyed it. It always seemed like I would get super inspired during a writing lesson. I loved to watch the growth of my little firsties as the year progressed. You could always plan a writing lesson, but it would always take a turn because it's all about the students! They all have different needs, different strengths and skills. Every mini lesson or writing task would open my eyes to something new I needed to teach. For some reason, it equally excited and panicked me. Ha!
Earlier this year a teacher at my school came to me asked for help with a writing assignment that she wanted to do for her class. She is an amazing writer and a phenomenal teacher, but this was a new grade level for her, so she wanted to take her idea and make sure she was teaching it in an age appropriate way. I was more than excited to help!
Hopefully the format of this writing lesson will inspire you to think of another opinion writing project. :) For most of my opinion writing lessons, I followed these steps.
The assignment: She wanted her kids to write her a persuasive letter, where they try to convince her to go on the field trip of their choice. Here's what we came up with:
She made her own chart using chart paper that showed the choices they had. (She had different choices but since it was so long ago, I couldn't remember them!) With this chart, you could brainstorm with the class things you would do on this field trip and what you could learn. That will help decide which is the best.
After doing that first chart, give your students time to talk. Yep. Talking time. Give it a little structure by instructing them to use the statements like, I think _________ would be the best field trip because... or We should go to ______________ because ______________. This individual student page with go to all the students, but first, I would make my own on chart paper. Explain each section. Use oral writing to model the format (almost like you are writing a paper in front of them but only with words.) Point to each section as you are speaking to where where you are at. Then give them time to talk again about possible reasons why they should go on their field trip.
This is an optional extra to guide them before writing so they can put in transition words. Have them choose one transition word from each box. Those words would then be used before each reason. If you haven't done any lessons on transition words, you would need to spend more time on this part. :) Again, give them opportunities to practice their sentences by giving them talking time. Have them point to their own planning page as they add in the transition words.
Now we are ready to write! This class used a letter format, so she had an additional lesson earlier about the parts of a letter.
If you haven't gone over parts of a letter, you could use this format, which is more of an opinion writing page. (I would copy more lines on the other side obviously, so there was more room to write).
For those younger kids, I would use something like this:
You know I love rubrics! I create a rubric for each format above. Make sure your students see the rubric before they begin writing so they know what is expected. After filling out the rubric, talk to your students about goals. What is something that they can work on for next time? What is something that they did well? Keep track of these strengths and areas of growth. Provide time to talk with your students about how they can reach those goals. Then for the next assignment, refer back so you can remember what they are working on and how you can support them. :)
If there is one thing I want to take away from this, it's that writing is a process and not a worksheet. :) Trust me, I've been guilty in the past of just assigning writing and not truly teaching/modeling it. Aaaaand, once you are done with a writing assignment, you have really just begun! :)
Head on over to my blog if you want to pick up this sample lesson!