So, this year I knew I had to change it up a bit. I have read a few books from this basket:
We have had informal conversations about opinions and talked about characters who have them before beginning the unit. I even over heard a little boy during playtime last month tell the other boy he was building with: "we have different opinions about how to build this marble run." It was interesting to me that only after really two informal conversations that he was beginning to recognize what it means to have an opinion. That's when I started thinking about the time piece again...they need time not only to write about their opinions but to talk about what it means to them. So, I feel a bit more confident having introduced the notions of opinions and characters who have them before the study.
I am also excited to teach the unit this year because I found the beginning to an opinion piece in one student's writing folder:
It was a happy little surprise to see Adrienne had applied some thinking about the seasons and decided to tell us her opinion! It will be nice to have a student piece to share this early and to talk through the decisions she is making and why.
Knowing that time and choice help me guide kids in a unit of study, I decided to approach the first week of the study a bit differently as we explore mentors. I want to embed time and choice throughout the study this year. We still will be exploring ideas but I wanted to combine what they learn from others with opinions and keep track of how their own ideas for writing emerged. I also wanted to combine blogposts (a few former student posts on kidblog), videos and written pieces as starting points for what kids will be thinking about when they explore opinion writing. I know a handful of kids will want to jump on the blog because of their understanding of audience. Some will choose paper but I want to show them how digital mentors can be as powerful as written ones. So I came up with a chart for recording our thinking alongside mentors that I will introduce next week.
I know their understandings gathered in the middle piece of the chart will help me assess out what they know about opinions and will lead me to what I need to help them further understand. The last section will help us gather many ideas. These changes feel subtle but have changed my energy for the unit (and my rethinking addiction).
Later this week, I will share the mentors that I'll be experimenting with and why I feel like they match the needs of my students. For now, I am off to enjoy today. Have a good one.