Looking for an alternative to OREO when teaching opinion writing in 2nd grade? Something more natural, more engaging, and cross-curricular that could be applied to various contents? Read on for my favorite tips and tricks to teach your second graders all about writing their opinion in a persuasive manner.
Students will need to know how to craft an argument or persuasive piece. This means teaching students what a REASON is and how to support those reasons with details. I like to start out the unit by teaching students to write persuasive pieces that are personal to them, then we move to more abstract concepts such as defending why a book is great or why a cat is better than a dog.
By second grade, students should be able to write a topic sentence, 3-4 reason sentences WITH details, and a closing sentence. This means student writing should be anywhere from 5-10 sentences at least.
Students might struggle to write reasons rather than facts about their writing. Students will need help convincing their readers that their opinions are correct rather than stating facts about the topic. This can be done by teaching students to use persuasive language and pointing this type of language out in authentic texts and actual conversations.
The Writing Process:
I cannot stress enough the importance of taking your students through the writing process every single week, for every single genre. This involves brainstorming/planning, drafting, revising, editing, publishing, grading and sharing.
Getting students EXCITED can be half the battle during writing. I love to tie all of my writing projects to an engaging read aloud. You can find my favorite opinion writing companions here.
Typically, I will read aloud a book for the hook. Then, we will brainstorm our opinion either about the text or using a topic from the text. If the topic has two sides (squish the ant or save the ant), we will talk as a class about BOTH sides of the argument.
Then, it is time for students to make a plan. Be sure not to skip this phase, it is NOT writing a full draft, but rather jotting down their ideas they are going to write about. They can use bullet points or pictures to gather their ideas, but this should NOT be done in full sentences and should not take longer than 5-10 minutes.
I like to give students two full days to draft for opinion writing. Each week, we focus on a different important skill that needs to be taught during opinion writing. Some skills we focus on are:
• Transition Words
• Topic Sentences
• Closing Sentences
• Using Persuasive Language
• Adding Details
• Using NON Reasons to Persuade a Reader (for example: You might think ants are disgusting, but actually, ants are very clean insects.)
Typically, students write their topic sentence, and first two reasons and details one day. Then, I have them write their second two reasons and details, along with the closing on the second day. We focus on the skill of the week, while also reinforcing the other skills that were previously taught.
I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year setting up a peer editing time that is productive for students. We spend an entire day revising and editing, and I also roam the room and select certain students each week to conference with during this time.
Depending on the length of your writing block, you can either meet with all of your students or rotate through small groups of them each week.
Publish, Grade, Share:
I always have students publish a piece of writing every single week. We add it to our writing portfolios that we take home at the end of the year. When students finish publishing, I have them grade themselves on the rubric. Self-assessment is such a powerful tool for students.
After they self grade, we find time to share each week. This can be partner sharing, author’s chair, sharing with buddies, recording themselves reading or more.
What is your favorite tip for teaching opinion writing in 2nd grade?