Thursday, August 1, 2013

Which type of writing to start the year?

Which type of writing to start the year...informational, narrative, or opinion/argumentative?  When looking through writing resources available, most start with narrative.  Narrative gives students a chance to tell their story and to learn about them personally as we begin to develop our intellectual communities in writing workshop.  But what about this twist?  What about starting the year with opinion/argumentative writing?  What message would that send our students?  It would send the message that we all have opinions (just like we all have bellybuttons), we all need to be heard, we will use text as a trigger to share personal experiences/feelings, and we have the right to change our mind as we gather new knowledge through text and conversation.

I have been sharing a series with some teachers titled, This or That ________ Debate: A Rip Roaring Game of Either/Or Questions.  This series has an animal debate book, history debate, sports debate, and
survival debate. Would you rather run fast like a cheetah or long like a wolf?  Would you rather swim with a great white shark or a jellyfish?  Would you rather help build Mount Rushmore or build the Panama Canal?

Readers are presented with a question and a two page spread that presents text features and details about each side of the debate.  The reader must decide what they would rather do.  A great opportunity to answer the question without reading (students can share personal experiences, feelings and known knowledge), read (model reading nonfiction), share (speaking and listening), find details (evidence based), and then make your final decision (drawing conclusions).  Students can write in the OREO format (opinion writing) to discuss their final side.

Hmmm...what is your opinion?


  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing the strategies. These books and readings look neat. Your strategies and methods are great too. Nice work :)

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  2. Great idea and great series suggestion:)! I think this would get writers excited and is a great idea for boy writers as well. I usually start with narrative writing and I don't think this genre always hooks my boy writers at the beginning...

    1. I also think we might learn more about our writers as a person...when making choices they may have background knowledge or experiences to share. The series may be the perfect text trigger for digging deeper into our personal experiences and really getting to know our community of learners (especially boy writers). :)

  3. What a great way to encourage supporting opinions with evidence. Thanks for the suggestions! ~Ann