Writing Reviews in 1st or 2nd Grade: Opinion Writing Fun!

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you may know that teaching writing is my FAVORITE subject to teach in 1st grade. I have a feeling I would love it in kinder or 2nd grade as well. My students' writing gets longer, more detailed, more persuasive, more informative, more interesting to the reader. I truly love the transformation from our beginning writing in August to the fiction stories with characters, problems, solutions, and more that we write in June.

It inspires me. It really, really does.

My three years in Vegas I had a shorter writing block and a shorter day than I do here in Massachusetts, so naturally I had to make a few tweaks and changes to my writing curriculum. In Vegas, we would spend a trimester each on writing personal narratives, writing informative texts, and then writing opinion papers. I used my Common Core Writing for 1st Grade for most of my core lessons and units and then would supplement with seasonal writing prompts and writing crafts/activities using my Writing Through the Seasons pack. All were Common Core aligned, my students got it, bada-bing, bada-boom.

This year, with 1 hour and 20 minutes to teach writer's workshop each and every day, I needed more. I could have continued to supplement with writing prompts and fun crafts with writing pieces, but I wanted to add more substance to my previous units. I wanted to take it a little further - and I am glad I did! We, of course, still continued to use seasonal writing prompts and even did a few, fun crafts, but my students got a much deeper knowledge of all three common core writing standards this year than ever before.

I am lucky enough to have the full Lucy Calkins writing curriculum at my new school for the first time and I was able to use that to create a pacing guide with my team that worked for our first graders. I also know from past experience, that while I love Lucy... I need a little more. A little more structure and guidance. A few more options. You might feel that Lucy is enough and then you are one, lucky teacher to have her! But me... I needed a bit more.

In the spring, we started teaching opinions. We expressed our opinions, wrote our opinions, and provided numerous reasons for them. We also spent some time writing persuasive letters to our principal and our parents. Most of the lessons and activities came from Lucy mixed with my Let's Write an Opinion unit. After we completed that unit, we started writing reviews. My students became critics on all things around them and learned to express their opinion and give a "star-rating" to all sorts of different things.

We had a blast doing this! It took our opinion writing a bit further and got my students to dig a little deeper. They were able to argue (the polite way) their opinions and were even able to persuade others to change their minds. It was so much fun!

I didn't think to snap that many pictures as we were completing this unit, but here is one of kiddos' paper reviewing the movie, Frozen. He loved it... shocker ;)

This, month long unit, sparked my creativity and I created a detailed opinion writing pack to help you teach your students how to write reviews:

Inside this unit:
- Getting Started: a detailed outline on how I teach the unit
- What is a review? anchor chart
- The parts of a review mini reference posters
- What can we review? anchor chart
- 3 different activities for students to practice reviewing: a toy review, food tasting, and plenty of different review cards
- 2 different 1st grade "exemplar" student samples
- Graphic organizers to map out student thinking
- Writing templates to pick and choose from
- Class book ideas
- Individual and partner editing checklists
- Individual and partner revision checklists
- Writing reviews rubric

A few samples:
A few anchor charts and to help students reference throughout the unit.

Just one of 3 different activities to help students practice reviewing things! There are 3 more sheets of review cards, along with blank ones for you to fill in reviewable items. My kids loved doing these as warm up activities and they can be used for quick writing prompts as well. The other 2 activities are a toy review and a food tasting. I can tell you the students loved all three!

 Some of the "parts of a review" mini reference posters to use throughout the units. I also typed up two different student examples from this year and put them into this unit for reference. They are exemplar pieces, but the students love seeing what they are striving for by the end of this unit.

 Plenty of graphic organizers, paper choices, as well as class book covers to use as you please throughout  this unit.

 Like in all of my writing packs, this one also has editing and revision checklists (individual and partner choices) as well as a rubric at the end to use for assessment purposes!

My kids and I truly loved this little unit and if you like the set up of my other writing packs, I think you will enjoy this as well. Click on the picture above and download the preview to see more of what is offered in the unit. 

As always, Happy Writing!

Life as of late!

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for a little 5 for Friday action! It has been quite awhile since I've blogged here at TGIF because.... well... life is life... and life can just be busy! Here is a little peek into my life as of late:

Being pregnant! This journey sure has its ups and downs, but I am enjoying almost every minute of it. I can tell you my belly is way bigger already than it was above and I know I will just be getting larger and larger and LARGER! Yikes.

Field trip!! I am so happy to be back living on the East Coast... right on the water. Granted the water is always cold and it's not like we go IN the ocean ever, but it sure is beautiful. We had a FUN field trip to Odiorne State Park where there are a bunch of tidepools for my kids to explore and search for tidepool animals and sealife. I was lucky enough to have my mom, my sister, and my husband chaperone this field trip. The kids were in heaven to meet these special people in my life and they thought this day was "THE BEST DAY EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!" I agreed.

School is O-V-E-R! I had such a great class this year and I am going to miss them so much! My summer will be jam-packed with packing and moving into my mom's house with husband and baby-to-be, but it will be nice to know that my classroom will be waiting for me in August. The top picture is an adorable gift one of my students gave me for Theo. He was so proud to give me those onesies and they sparked some tears in my eyes for sure! The second picture is our annual last day breakfast! We all sat around our big family table and ate breakfast, shared memories, and drew pictures/wrote notes on our butcher paper tablecloths! It was a great way to end our year together.

That last picture above is depressing! It is so bare in my classroom and I was ready for some new classroom decor, so oddly enough, only a day out of school, I created a classroom decor set that I will be using in my room. It is simple and bright and primary and I love it. Here is what's inside:

I am really excited about this set and I will be sure to take lots of pictures in August when I can set up my room!

Last but not least, a few weeks ago, I was getting prepared for those first weeks of school in August and our first math unit is Numbers to 120. I love the unit I made 2 years ago, but it was in need of some major updating. So that's just what I did. I added a few new activities, updated the clipart and look of the pack!

These activities are some tried and true favorites from the pack, but with a little updated look:
Spin & Graph - number recognition and graphing (6 differentiated games)
10s and 20s frames - cards for matching and memory games
120 charts - for student reference as well as 4 different games to be played with the chart
Read the Room - activity for identifying number words
Number cards 1-120 - cards as well as 3 different games to play with the cards
120 chart puzzles - 7 different chart puzzles with varying degrees of difficulty
Assessment - 3 page assessment to check the Common Core Standard: 1.NBT.1

I also added a center game: before, after, & in between with recording sheets as well as 4 different practice pages to help students reinforce skills learned in this pack. My favorite is the number detective one!

So that is just a *little* bit of what I have been up to lately. Now that I am out of school, I will be sure to blog more often and keep up with everything else in the teaching/blogging world!

Happy Summertime :) :)
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