This month many second graders are working on opinion writing in their writer's workshop. All second graders have opinions on a variety of things, so this should be a fun unit of study for them. The challenge will be to be sure they are organized in the writing and that they stay focused as well as learning the components involved. Thinking about how I would plan out my unit, I came up with a day-to-day plan. Since it is almost second semester, I might begin using a writer's notebook for each student. That, of course, depends on the students themselves. Each teacher needs to decide if the students are ready for this step. If not, a special folder for this unit might be helpful.
The first day or so would be used to collect lists. In the notebook (or sheet of paper in the folder), they would make a variety of lists. I might suggest a list and give them a few minutes to write their list in the notebook. Then I would give them another suggestion. Another way to do this would be to have a list of suggestions on a chart or have them come up with a list as you chart their ideas. Some ideas are favorites of: places to eat, places to visit, things to eat, t.v. shows, books to read, movies. Sharing for these days would be simply having the circle of students give one or two samples from their lists.
For another couple days the students would begin doing Quick Writes in their notebooks (or collecting them in the folder). They would pick ONE idea from the many lists. They would write about why this was their favorite...giving lots of reasons and details. This is a Quick Write so they probably will finish this and be ready for another one. They might do two or three in a writing period. They would continue to collect these pieces for the first few days of the unit. Sharing each of the days would be to share one of the pieces they have written. Not all students would have time to share so it might be a good time to do partner sharing. By doing that, the children will get an idea for which of their pieces they enjoy most and might want to add to it later.
Now it is time to get "serious" about the writing. They will pick just one of the pieces they have done in the Quick Writes. It is now time to leave the notebook and begin drafting an actual piece to put their "blood, sweat, and tears" into as this unit continues. After drafting the piece they will be spending several days revising that piece. Your mini lessons might be: adding details (show not tell; using senses), using specific language to persuade, using stories or anecdotes, keeping the audience in mind. When they finish one piece with the revisions, they would simply go to another and work on that one. This part of the unit of study will last for a couple weeks.
The next step is to pick one of those revised pieces to "make public". This would be something the students can send to the restaurant they like or to the library recommending a certain book. In other words, they will have a REAL reason to write! The mini lessons for this time would be working on persuasion in the writing and even working on a catching ending.
The last step is to actually send these pieces out into the world. You might have to use some imagination with this step, but it is worth it when you see your students realize they DO have a voice in the world!!!