Opinion writing is always a fun writing genre to teach. Students already seem to have an opinion on EVERYTHING…as I’m sure you are aware! But, organizing and putting opinions into a piece of writing is a learned craft…and that’s where you come in! Writing is one of the best ways to teach students how to express their opinions. And as you begin opinion writing, it is amazing to see students form opinions, explore the validity of those opinions, and express them in written form. Before you introduce students to opinion writing, it is important to immerse them in rich text where the author’s opinion is clear and you’re able to discuss the details that support that opinion.
Before teaching students any form of writing, it’s important to immerse them into texts of that genre that serve as mentor texts. Mentor texts serve as anchors for the foundational skills of opinion writing that you are teaching. There are so many amazing texts that you can share with your students, pulling out some favorites so students have easy access to them is a great way to kick off your opinion writing unit.
What is Opinion Writing?
Opinion writing states the writer’s opinion on a topic. The author supports that opinion with reasons and information. Opinion writing is different from persuasive writing because the writer is stating their opinion rather than trying to persuade his/her ideas or topic.
What are mentor texts?
Mentor texts are anchor texts that are used as examples for students. Students use the mentor text to help impact their own understanding and learning. The mentor text can be read during a mini-lesson to help students learn about the skill they are focusing on. A mentor text provides students with an example of the standard or skill you are working on. Reading an opinion writing piece before students begin their own writing helps to set expectations for their own learning.
Mentor text can model genres of writing, grammar skills, conventions of writing, and other writing skills. A mentor text can be a short text, a teacher or student example, a picture book, or an excerpt of a longer text.
Using mentor text throughout your opinion writing unit will show students how authors share their own opinions. Here are a few favorite mentor texts to use while teaching opinion writing:
1. “Pick a Picture, Write an Opinion” by Kristen McCurry
“Pick a Picture, Write an Opinion” is a great book to kick off your opinion writing lessons. As you read the mentor text, you are able to draw from students’ prior knowledge and discuss what an opinion is. Students may have heard the word opinion before, but are unsure what it means. You can also discuss how your opinion may be different from someone else’s opinion, even the author!
This book is written with photos that will inspire students as they begin their opinion writing. It very clearly states what opinion writing is, discusses topic sentences, thinking about the other side of your opinion, reasons, and more. It is a really great mentor text to share with students because the text is easy to follow, the pictures are engaging, and the ideas are inspiring.
2. “Duck Rabbit” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
I just love “Duck Rabbit” and students always do too! It is a great book to talk about opinions and discuss the opinions on each side of a topic; in this case, the duck and the rabbit. While each side believes in their own opinion, they still respect each other’s opinions.
This book can start an important conversation about stating your opinion while still respecting others' opinions that are different from your own. Students can turn and talk and discuss their opinion on “Duck Rabbit.” Some may agree and some may not, but they can state their opinions on WHY they feel it is a duck or a rabbit. It is a great mini-lesson before you dive into determining your own opinions in writing.
3. “This or That Animal Debate” by Joan Axelrod-Contrada
This is such a fun book and a great way to discuss opinions. “Would you rather swim with a great white or a jellyfish?” Students are SURE to have different opinions and as you begin to discuss supporting your opinion with reasons and details, this book is the perfect mentor text. Each question in the book is a great discussion starter and promotes critical thinking.
As you read “This or That,” you can discuss pros and cons. When writing an opinion, you should consider that there are different ideas and feelings about topics. Stating reasons that support your own opinion and considering the opposition to your opinion will help students form the reasons and facts as the author.
4. “In My Opinion” by Deb Bird
“In My Opinion” is a cute book to share and discuss how opinions can differ. People can have strong opinions about a topic, like Maddie in the book, but also realize that not everyone shares those opinions. As authors, we must accept that our opinions may not always be someone else’s..and sometimes we may even change our opinions when we begin to do research and find information.
Sharing a variety of texts will help your students as they learn to form and express their opinions. As you share each text, students will be immersed in the author’s craft, vocabulary, and more. They will be ready to do opinion writing of their own!
I hope you found some new books to read with your students and ideas for your opinion writing unit!
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