Sunday, May 3, 2015

Opinion Writing Inquiry

"Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other." - Paulo Freire

"To often we...enjoy the comfort of opinion, without the discomfort of thought." - JFK

     My goal was to teach students how to write their opinions in a short essay with emphasis on elaboration.  W.3. 1. Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.  a. introduce the topic, state an opinion, create an organizational structure that lists reasons. b. provide reasons that support the opinion. c. use linking words to connect opinion and reasons. d. provide a concluding statement or section.  It was easy to ask them their opinions, to teach them ways to insert details and anecdotal stories to elaborate upon their ideas. 
     But I want so much more for them. I want their opinion pieces to be meaningful; beyond their opinions of pizza and the color red.  I will open up this writing to inquiry tomorrow.  I'll ask students to turn their opinion into a question using, find others that have the same question, argue both sides of the opinion, find research to support your claims, THEN write an opinion piece that is rich with care and vigorous pursuit.  Finally, reflect upon question driven opinion writing.

I use to think...
     It was enough to teach to the standards.

 Now I think....
It is a disservice to students if we limit their learning to JUST the standards, to the structure and skills required of all third graders... they deserve 100 times more... they deserve to be asked to CARE, to OWN, to INVESTIGATE, to ARGUE, to COALESCE, to move to ACTION, to be EMPOWERED to have educated opinions and open minds throughout their lives....


  1. Val- Your "Now I think" is one of the reasons I love being able to teach with you every day. You have such a passion and faith in education. It is contagious. I am so psyched to see this unit unfold. I completely agree that our third graders deserve so much more than just what the standards say. And we deserve to enjoy teaching them exactly that!


  2. Your "Now I Think" made my eyes tear up. Oh, if only every child could have teachers that REALLY believe they deserve this... I am lucky to be at Roberts with such thoughtful practitioners. I love your comment about going deeper than the standards, too. It is so true. I personally have become lost in "learning" the new standards, and I need to remember they serve as a skeleton, or sketch, of the direction I need to guide my kids- but certainly the real knowledge they need to walk away with goes much deeper.

  3. Val, I have to agree with Lynn and Caitlin. Your post just rejuvenated me and encourages me to be the best teacher I can be because the students deserve it! You're great at taking a standard and thinking about it in a different way. You know students need to know the content, but the way in which you do it is amazing. This is just one of the reasons I miss planning with you on a regular basis. Your passion and natural talent is admirable!