Unit Two: Opinion Writing


In this unit, the third graders are transitioning from narrative writing to opinion writing, and therefore the voice and purpose of their writing changes. With opinion writing, the students take on a voice of authority, and write in an essay format. The purpose of writing switches from storytelling and entertaining to persuading. 

At the start of the unit, we differentiate between fact and opinion through a sorting activity. The students then share some opinions that they have, such as: "Ice cream is the best dessert." We then examine mentor texts such as A Pig Parade Is A Terrible Idea and Earrings, as well as examples from previous third grade students. This allows the writers to do some research about the type of writing they will be doing. Through these mentor texts, the third graders begin to notice that opinion writers need big, bold thesis statements and supporting reasons. 

From there, the students begin gathering opinions using strategies such as problem/solution and noticing noteworthy people, places or things. Next comes the big decision of choosing a seed idea for their piece. Once this is decided, the writers nurture and grow this idea by coming up with a big, bold thesis statement and testing it out with convincing reasons to back up their opinion. 

As we move into the drafting stage, the writers work to follow the format of an essay with a lead paragraph which catches the readers' attention and introduces the thesis statement. The following 2-3 paragraphs include the reasons that support their thesis statement. The writers learn to say more about their reasons by writing mini-stories, giving examples or using data collected from student surveys. The final paragraph closes the piece, and it also restates the thesis statement in a different way.

The students will again publish their pieces using their word processing skills and Google Docs. At our celebration, the opinion writers will share their pieces by reading them aloud as speeches to their peers.