Opinion writing can be a really fun way for students to express themselves. Learning how to state a claim, or “thesis” is a hugely important writing concept that can be practiced in a ton of ways. Whether you write reading responses where students comment on a text and then provide text evidence or write a true opinion essay, this idea of “proving” your point is a key part of our curriculum. Check out how I use an opinion writing flipbook to help my students!
So what makes it hard for some students? Keeping that opinion essay organized! I’ve found that the hardest part for most students involves keeping their reasons in their own paragraphs–and all the details tucked nicely after the correct topic sentence!
The Opinion Essay
Once it is time to move to a more formal five paragraph essay, some students really struggle. They seem to be confused about how to keep their paragraphs organized, and the information ends up in the wrong spot. I was on a quest to find a way to organize my instruction AND my students’ thinking to help them do a few key things:
- State a clear “claim” and use a hook to get the reader’s attention
- Come up with 3 quality reasons to prove their claim.
- Write three paragraphs that have topic sentences that give reasons with details to prove them.
- Use transition words to help the ideas flow
- Craft a conclusion that restates the thesis.
I’ve tried boxes and bullets (which is great) and other organizers, but I wanted a way to help students see each paragraph as its own little piece of writing! My opinion flipbook was born!
Interactive Opinion Writing Flipbook
Students love the “interactive” nature of the tool–plus it has all your mini-lessons built right in! Seriously–it makes planning so easy!
Each paragraph gets planned on one page–and the minilesson information is right on the bottom! Teach the lesson, then cut off the bottom for students to use as a reference tool as they write. I like to have them glue them in order into their writer’s notebook.
So students hear your minilesson, use the organizer to plan that paragraph, and keep the reference part for writing help!
Once we finish planning, it’s time to write. Whether you use paper and pencil or compose on the computer, the planning and organizing is finished and the essay can essentially write itself (at least that’s what I tell my students!) Writing several essays to help solidify this process is key–and don’t forget to model, model, model!
Keeping Things Easy–and Organized!
The opinion writing flipbook is geared toward helping students recognize the five paragraphs and what needs to go into each one—almost like a formula. Once they understand this, teachers can push students into more sophisticated writing. To start, helping them understand the basic formula and the importance of stating a clear thesis (“claim”), having three solid reasons, the evidence to back them up, and a strong conclusion is really very doable for most intermediate students.
- Headers for a bulletin board or anchor chart showing the 5 paragraphs
- Graphic organizers (color and grayscale) for planning essays
- A “child-friendly” opinion essay with suggestions for use
- A five-step “flip book” for essay planning. Includes teaching tips and even resources for students to glue into their notebooks as a reference tool.
- An essay drafting framework that can be used by everyone or to support students needing a scaffolded essay structure.
Interested in a few more writing posts?
Getting started with opinion writing
Helping students plan narrative writing
I hope you find this resource helpful as you proceed with your unit.