WRITING OPINIONS AND ARGUMENTS
The Common Core State Standards ask students to write opinion pieces starting in early elementary school. As students enter middle school, the standards require students to write sound arguments on substantive topics. Educators begin preparing students in kindergarten to share their opinion. As students increase in age they begin to learn the elements of an argument. Upper elementary students can compose logical arguments in school, when prepared with the academic vocabulary and educational tools they need to do so. Schools can teach upper elementary, middle school and high school students to logically comprehend and write sound arguments.
Teachers and parents can help students prepare to write opinion pieces by:
- Teaching children to state their opinions
- Showing children how to use relevant evidence when supporting their points in writing and speaking
- Supporting opinions with reasons
- Making lists of words and phrases that support opinions
- Teaching students how to use linking words and phrases
Teachers and parents can help students prepare to write sound arguments by :
- Showing children how to constructively evaluate others’ use of evidence
- Teaching students to verbalize and write a concluding statement
Teach Children About The Elements of an Opinion and Argument
When teaching students how to write and argument piece, children should be exposed to the elements of an argument. The definition of an argument is a reason or reasons why you are for or against something. Educators and parents can identify these elements in text. These elements should be clearly identified for students. Teaching students to use these words also increases their academic vocabulary. It is beneficial to start at a young age. When students make a claim, they need to think about evidence. Evidence is an essential part of argument writing.
- Claim-The position or assertion that supports an argument
- Evidence-Facts or reasons that support the claim
- Warrant-Reasoning that connects evidence to the claim
In middle school students need to think about making a:
- Counterclaim-The opposing position
- Rebuttal-Logical reasons for the rejection of the counterclaim
Topics for Opinions and Arguments
Students can write opinion pieces in relation to things that are relevant to their lives. Some examples are:
- Should chocolate milk be allowed in schools?
- Is it better for students to walk to school or to drive in a car?
- Should recycling be mandatory?
- Should students be allowed to have cell phones in schools?
Sharing Opinions and Arguments With Others
It is important for students to share their work with others. Students may share their written work in a variety of formats. Students like to write for authentic audiences (types of people that will actually read their work). The following lists ideas in which student can make their written work public.
Students can make their work public by placing it in the:
- Reading and Writing Center
- Classroom Newsletter
- School News or School Newspaper
Students can share their work with others and the community:
- Students can send their written opinion pieces to the local newspaper (with parent permission)
- Students can send their reviews of the food at a restaurant to the restaurant owner
- Letters to Politicians, Lawmakers, City Council, the Mayor
- Technology can make students’ work public (with parent/guardian permission)
- Students can create online books. Students can share their opinions, arguments and original artwork with others.
- Online books can be created on www.biguniverse.com
Students can share their published books with others on a virtual bookshelf at Big Universe Learning.
When preparing students for college and career readiness, it is essential to teach students to write sound arguments on substantive topics. The Common Core State Standards prepare students to achieve this writing goal. Teachers start by educating students about expressing their opinions in early elementary grades.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.1 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is…).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.1.1 Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.1 Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g.,because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.1a Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.1b Provide reasons that support the opinion.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.1c Use linking words and phrases (e.g., because, therefore, since,for example) to connect opinion and reasons.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.1d Provide a concluding statement or section.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.1a Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.1b Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.1c Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases (e.g., for instance, in order to, in addition).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.1d Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.1a Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which ideas are logically grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.1b Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.1c Link opinion and reasons using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., consequently, specifically).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.1d Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.1a Introduce claim(s) and organize the reasons and evidence clearly.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.1b Support claim(s) with clear reasons and relevant evidence, using credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.1c Use words, phrases, and clauses to clarify the relationships among claim(s) and reasons.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.1d Establish and maintain a formal style.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.1e Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from the argument presented.