Sunday, April 22, 2012

Opinion writing with the Common Core

I have noticed lately that my students are not selecting the most important detail or vocabulary to support their thinking while writing.  Their writing seems more at the "surface" by not being specific enough with word choice or generalizing important details.  The problem?  I felt like I had exhausted my tool box on determining importance and merging that importance into their writing.  The solution?  As I was reading through the Common Core for language arts, I found the standards on text types and purposes.  There it write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.  Maybe, just maybe....this purpose for writing would support the students in providing reasons with facts and details while linking opinions and reasons using words and phrases.  Opinions are like bellybuttons, everyone has one...maybe this purpose and form of communication is just what we need!

We just started our thinking three days ago.  I turned to Time For Kids to start us off!  I used an article titled, "A Healthier Happy Meal."  We annotated, discussed, and actually...somewhat debated.  The next day we continued with an article from a different point of view that was recently in the news, "California judge dismisses suit against McDonald's toys", from USA Today.  This time our discussion focused heavily on determining the meaning of unknown words and trying to understand the opposite point of view.  Then I posed the question...Should McDonald's Happy Meals have toys?  Students created positive and negative charts to evaluate using details and words from the two text and stated their claim.  We examined another recent article in Time For Kids, "Should Schools Ban the Sale of Bottled Water?"  We discussed the structure the students used to "convince us".  The students most enjoyed "finding the flip"!  Finding a detail or word from the other point of view and "flipping" it to work for your thinking.   Transferring our thinking to a paragraph is currently a "work in progress"...but the excitement, purpose, and attention to detail has been just what the writing doctor's ordered(with a side of ketchup)!
Evaluating the positives and negatives to decide a claim.


  1. Once again Tracy you have merged all the LA standards, common core, real life examples and brought all to one focus point! This is a model lesson for all teachers to read about!! Great post-love the graphics especially the 4 block (+) (-) chart

  2. You are kind! The Common Core may be new and different but it is not scary :) I am hoping to share lessons that show the bridge between our current state standards and the Common Core...glad you found it helpful. You know the best part of this whole lesson? Watching fourth graders use all of their strategies, experiences, and wonder to tackle a USA Today article!