Opinion Writing

This month I have been exploring the opinion/argument text type with my 2nd graders.  For the most part, my students know the difference between fact and opinion.  We have written several different types of opinion pieces.  I started out with writing a product review.  I brought several board games into my classroom for the students to play.  After they played with a particular game, they had to write a review of the game.  We used several reviews I copied off the Internet as mentor texts.

Now, we are concentrating on writing book reviews.  We have written a book review all together, but now I want to see if the students can attempt to write one on their own.  I took a break from book reviews because I was absent for two days the week before last.  And, instead of having the substitute attempt book reviews, I had the students work on something else for writing.  I had the substitute read The Perfect Pet, Margie Palatini.  It is a cute story about a girl who is trying to convince her parents that she needs a pet.  Instead, the parents get her a plant.  She finally ends up getting a pet, but it is pretty unusual.

I had my students write an opinion about the kind of pet they would like to have.  They had to come up with at least three or more reasons as to why their pet would be the perfect pet.  My second graders know the frame for writing an opinion piece.  They know they need an opening statement that includes their opinion.  Following this, they know they have to write their reasons.  And finally, they know they are required to have a closing statement that is related to their first sentence.  All my students understand this, but man, are their pieces boring.  And, they all sound the same.

I received some wonderful ideas from my SDAWP friends last Saturday.  So, I am ready to try something new tomorrow.  I went to TweenTribune for grade appropriate articles and I found one entitled, Would You Eat a Giant Worm?  I am pretty sure the majority of my students would say they would not eat a giant worm.  First, I will show them the picture at the beginning of the article, and then brainstorm ideas why they would NOT want to eat the worm.  I figure these ideas could be used for counterarguments.  Then, I would have students read the short article and highlight all the reasons why someone should eat the worm.  Finally, I will have them write an opinion piece based on the evidence from the text to support their reasons.  I don’t know if any of this will work, but my hope is that the students can see there are other ways to write an opinion piece.  I will let you know how it goes.

‘Til The Cows Come Home

I was wondering about this idiom today.  It means a long or indefinite time.  I think it might have something to do with when cows are milked at the end of the day.  Cows also move at their own slow pace.  I believe I read somewhere that the true origins of this idiom began somewhere in Scotland.  Why was I wondering about this cow saying?  Well, this morning our school had an assembly presented by the Dairy Council of California.  The Dairy Council brings a real life cow and calf to the school.

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During the assembly, students learn interesting facts about the cow.  This cow happened to be named Katie.  She was very calm, and it seemed like she felt comfortable in her trailer in front of excited kindergarten, first, and second grade students.  Here is a picture of Katie.

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Katie’s handler talked about her anatomy and what her life was like on the farm.  Since she is a dairy cow, she spends most of her time pregnant so she can produce milk.  She gets a few months off after giving birth to prepare for a new baby.  As Mr. Miller put it Katie is either going through lactation, or she is on a vacation.  Mr. Miller also explained how to milk a cow.  After all this time, I learned that the actors on T.V. are totally going about it wrong.  Mr. Miller showed us the correct way to do it.  He actually got milk to come out of her “milking spot” as one little second grader put it!  The students got a kick out of that.  I bet many of them have never seen a real cow up close before.  Part of the reason I enjoyed this assembly was the cow comedy.  Mr. Miller had a sense of humor that went over the students’ heads, but made sense to the teachers and parents in the audience.  Anyway, at the end of the presentation, the students got the opportunity to pet Katie’s calf, Taylor.  Here is a picture of the baby.  She was so cute!

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When it was time to go back to class, I was prepared with my reading lesson.  However, I wanted to give my students time to write about the assembly.  We wrote what we noticed and we finished up by writing our opinion of the whole presentation.  We are just starting to think about the text type of opinion.  We have spent most of our time writing personal narratives and memoirs.  Needless to say, my reading plan went by the wayside so we could write.  It was spontaneous, but meaningful.  And, the students were engaged.  In fact, we realized we wrote a story using two of the text types, narrative and opinion.  We thought that was really cool.  We had a fun morning.  We kept on writing until the cows came home!  I love days like this.  🙂