Monday, March 26, 2012

Opinion Writing in First Grade

 The K and 1st teachers in my district have been spending quite a bit of time delving into understanding core standards this year.  We are beginning to practice some units that support these standards before we are officially responsible for implementing next year.  This week I am diving into a new writing standard for first grade based on opinion writing.  The standard for first grade states:

  •  Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.
 So, I feel like what my first graders first really need to understand about this standard at this point in the year is: what is an opinion and then later how can they support that.  We've explored a ton of text structures and noticed beginnings and endings in narratives and non-fiction texts so I am not as worried about them organizing their piece.  What I am needing them to be exposed to and understand is what opinions are, that it is ok to agree or disagree with someone's opinion and how to support their own opinion about ideas that are meaningful to them. 

I have taken time to read some professional development resources regarding units that I could follow for primary opinion writing but I feel like I need to step back and keep it simple.  So, as I began cleaning out my classroom this weekend, I started to collect books that have characters who have opinions (and support their opinions).  

I found the book Red Is Best and immediately thought it would work. In this book, little Kelly plays her opinion against her mother's practical advice. Kelly loves red and her belongings that are red.  She wants to wear the red mittens because they make better snowballs, and the red boots because they take bigger steps and in the red cup, she tells her mother, juice tastes better.  I think that this book will help my kids begin to identify with their opinion about the simplest things like their favorite color.   

I Don't Want to Be a Pea! ( I blogged about yesterday but I read today) helped me begin teaching my kids that characters have opinions (and these two have great voices). Sidenote:{ I wish I would have read it aloud before talking about opinions  because I did quite a bit of rereading as this short picture book had some understanding to tackle together about the character's relationship, which character is who, and which character was speaking in the text.}  Hugo and Bella are best buds but they can't agree on what to dress up as for the fairy tale fancy dress party. They both explain why he or she should dress as a certain character disagreeing about what to dress up all along.  It ends with a sweet compromise.

The last book I came across is Duck! Rabbit!  Each of the voices in this book states an opinion about what they see in the pictures as the book progresses. Sometimes the offstage speakers just state their opinion like: "Are you kidding me? It's totally a duck."  and "It's for sure a rabbit." Later the voices are supported by what they see in the pictures like:  "Now the duck is wading through the swamp."  and "No, the rabbit is hiding in the grass." This book will be another way to read and demonstrate that we have opinions and we can disagree. 

 I am hoping these texts can begin to support my student understand how important it is to have opinions. I am hoping my student begin to notice characters with opinions in their own reading and add some more to our basket of opinionated characters.


Mandy said...

Thanks for sharing these titles. Did you see Ruth's post today about opinion writing in K. You are both thinking about opinions.

Thanks for sharing

Jen said...

Thanks for the ideas for texts to support exploring this. CCSS does have some samples in the appendix that are helpful too.

Mary Lee said...

As always, it's great as a 4th grade teacher to see how these foundations are laid in the primary, and to imagine how I can capitalize on your work and grow it (and the students) in new meaning-making ways.