Mentor Texts & Opinion Writing & Topic Sentences, OH MY!

My favorite writing time has come! Opinion writing has started and it's my all time favorite! I truly had to breathe it all in this week because next week, my student teacher takes over writing. This is probably the hardest subject for me to let go of to her so it's a good thing we did it as one of the firsts for her to take over. I'm glad I got to enjoy a week's worth of opinion writing though!

So, what's your opinion? Do you enjoy opinion writing? Or do you loathe it? Or could you care less about your opinion about opinion writing? :)

Anyway, let's talk about it!

Before discussing opinion writing, I wanted my students to be pretty concrete in their understanding of topic and topic sentences. We practice the whole week before we began our opinion writing unit. I noticed that this helped a TON in their writing. We used activities from my newest pack, Tackling Topic Sentences.
You guys, before this... My kids struggled with topic sentences. We were always coming up with them together... Basically me saying what the topic sentence should be, but now... Now, they get it. One activity that they really enjoyed was with the scrambled sentences.

After scrambling the sentences, they colored the topic sentence yellow. 

This pack comes with other things to help you tackle teaching topic sentence in your classroom as well.

In this pack, you can find anchor charts, a fun construction hat, and many, many printables and activities for you and your students to practice discovering the topic, topic sentence, and creating topic sentences.

Now, on to opinion writing...

On Monday, we read Groundhog Gets A Say.

Groundhog Gets A Say is pretty amazing for a variety of reasons. 1. You learn a lot about groundhogs from this story, probably more than you would ever want to! It would be perfect for Groundhog's Day or even when teaching your students about informational stories. But, I read it to introduce opinion writing because the groundhog is telling his opinion of how awesome he is and why. The kids got a kick out of it! After reading it, my students went back to their seats and wrote a quick write of who they thought the best person in the world is. They were adorbs.

The important part of that quick write though was that I wanted them to be able to form an opinion and write about it. No structure to it, but since we had just learned about topic sentences, that was the main focus of what I was looking for. Kind of a checkpoint for myself to see what they retained from our lessons the previous week.

The next day, we did a shared writing opinion story about why our principal is the best principal. They're the sweetest.

The next book we read was A Pig Parade Is A Terrible Idea. Holy moly, I love this book.

I could honestly barely get through each page without the kids busting up in laughter, sometimes tears of laughter. In this book, the author is giving his opinion with reasons why a pig parade is a terrible idea.

While reading, we wrote the reasons down on anchor paper.

Nothing fancy, I know. Don't be impressed with my lack of creativity on this anchor chart. 

Anyway, the book ends with the author saying that on the other hand, a panda parade might be a good idea. This made my kids go crazy! So, our first structured opinion story began. My kids gathered on the carpet with their journals and we wrote our opinion stories step-by-step. 

My class nailed the topic sentence. I wasn't sure if they would be able to state a good way to start our reasons, but a few students remembered from our examples the previous week from my topic sentence lessons. One little firstie blew me away when he could state this concluding sentence. Seriously, my firsties are awesome. I made the sentences in different colors so that they could differentiate the different sentences. Some of my students obviously work slower than the others so the color helped. The lines are there so they know to add their own words. And  yes, I had a couple that literally wrote the lines. Sigh. 

The next day, we read A Fine, Fine School. Another book my kids went absolutely crazy over. They definitely shared their strong opinions over this one. You see, this book is about a principal who is so in love with his school. Every day, he states what a fine, fine school it is. So, he keeps wanting to add more days for learning. First, he adds Saturday. Then, Sunday. Then, holidays and summer. 

After reading, we wrote another story. This time, about whether or not having school everyday is a good idea or a bad idea. Obviously my kids had strong opinions on why this is a bad idea. Goodness, I have a strong opinion on that too! Their stories were so fun and cute to read.

My kids were completely in love with the texts I chose and the activities/writing that they did. The more the students enjoy the book, the more they are going to enjoy their writing piece. The panda parade was more silly, but they could really connect to the school one because they all had such strong opinions as to why we should not have school every day.

So, yep! Teacher approved. Student approved. 

How do you teach opinion writing?

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  1. Thanks, Alisha! I've been looking for fun books that focus on opinion to read to my students as we are doing opinion writing!
    You rock!

  2. I love this post!! Tons of great writing ideas here. :)


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