Teaching new writers how to gather evidence and plan for text-based writing can be challenging. Transitioning them over to actually writing the essay where they must weave those ideas into a well developed and organized essay is just as big of a task. Below, are some ways you can use opinion writing anchor charts to give 4th and 5th grade students tangible examples of how to make their writing focused, well-supported, and engaging.
1. Opinion Writing Hooks
Once students have a plan of action for their writing, introducing a writing "hook" is a natural place to begin when starting instruction of actually writing the essay.
Start off by explaining that a "hook" captures the reader's interest and makes them want to continue to read. It should relate to and tightly tie into the topic that will be discussed.
Introduce the four most commonly used (and easiest to use) hooks.
- Interesting Fact
2. Introductory Paragraph
Now that students know how they will start their essay, they are ready to complete their introductory paragraph. For this quick lesson, tell students to start with their hook. Then, specify that writers need to include words from the prompt. This helps the reader know what the paper will be about and also helps the writer stay focused as they write. They can also include a preview to their answers in this paragraph.
3. Introduce the Components of Body Paragraphs
Body paragraphs are the heart of the essay. This is where the writer needs to provide the reasons they agree or disagree with the prompt. They also need to support their reasons with text evidence and elaborations.
Many teachers are familiar with the acronym R.A.C.E. as a form of responding to a question. I like to use the acronym T.R.A.C.E. because it reminds the writer to use transitions within the essay and within the paragraphs.
During this step of instruction, it is beneficial to break down the acronym for your students. Introduce what each letter stands for. Explain that this is not a specific formula, but a guide that shows what should be included throughout the paragraph.
As you explain each letter, have students create an anchor chart and color code the text. Later in the writing process, this will help them identify what they are doing well and what they may need to add more of in their paragraphs.
4. Writing the Body Paragraphs
Now that you've discussed the components of a body paragraph and have taught students how to color code each letter, it's time to model the writing.
Write the first body paragraph along with your students. It is best to write it on the board where they can all see it. Have students copy the sentences as you write them. Think aloud as you write. This will help students understand why you are including and excluding certain information.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes and cross words or phrases out. Have students copy a few of these errors too. This will allow them to see that they can change their mind or fix errors.
Once you have completed the paragraph, color code the text. This will allow students to visually see the components of a body paragraph.
5. Introduce Types of Elaborations
Once students have seen you model a body paragraph, focus on the elaboration within the paragraph.
Introduce the four types of elaborations most frequently used within text-based writing.
- Definition: tells the meaning of an unfamiliar word
- Anecdote: a short story inserted into the text
- Example: provides specific cases, samples, or instances
- Scenario: a description of a possible event
Provide Students with Opportunities to Practice
Although this is not a specific step in teaching writing, it is included because it is important to give students multiple opportunities to practice.
Depending on your students, you may want to focus on certain areas of a text-based writing lesson when you offer opportunities to practice. Do not feel the need to have students complete an entire prompt each time they write, especially at the start of the school year.
Starting off with an overview, then moving on to certain parts before moving on to a complete essay can be a great way to scaffold this process for students. Offering students the opportunity to refer back to their opinion writing anchor charts as they write is also a key component to helping them become proficient writers.
Looking for More Support?
Hopefully, these tips have helped you organize your beginning opinion writing lessons.
If you would like the opinion writing anchor charts discussed, you can click on the image to take a closer look.