Last Monday was yet another productive week for our young writers! As we begin to
wrap up the unit on writing our opinions, we are putting the finishing touches on making sure our
audience understands our position and why we care.
The first and second grade students were very energetic, so we did a round of musical
chairs. The last two people standing when the music stopped had to answer a question relating to
their opinion on a topic before the rest of the class voted on whose explanation they felt was
more descriptive. Students then refocused as they wrote about which classroom rule they found
to be the most important and why. After all, students do have opinions about the environments
they find themselves in and which rules they consider fair, so letting them describe my rules
through their perspective gave them the chance to let their voice be heard.
In the third and fourth grade group, a different approach was taken as many of them have
no trouble explaining their opinions. As a class, we watched a review on YouTube of the movie
Frozen. Whenever the speaker changed points, I paused and asked the students to explain what
the purpose was of what he had just said. This is a variation of an activity used in many college
classrooms called “Says/Does.” For instance, the reviewer clearly liked the movie, but spent a
portion of the review describing the plot holes and lack of cohesion between the songs. When I
asked the students why he would describe the bad things if he liked the movie, they knew
instantly (though without the college-level vocabulary) that describing things he did not like as
well as the good things made him more credible.
My predecessor in this position wrote for her biography on our website that she often
found herself forming lessons by taking college-level writing curriculum and reframing it to be
“kid-friendly.” With my experience teaching college level writing, I can affirm that this is a more
accurate statement than I would have imagined. Each week, our students show me their prowess
and skill in exciting ways and it pleases me to see them tackling material so seemingly complex.