Students will write an opinion letter to their parents/guardians about why they should get a family dog. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the writing process, from start to finish. *Note: This is a multiple day lesson and can be adjusted for other grade levels.
Common Core English Language Arts Standards
Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Computer Access with Internet and Printing Capabilities (Computer Lab, laptops, etc.)
Pre-Writing Graphic Organizer: HERE
Opinion Writing Phrases and Transitions Worksheet: HERE
AKC Article – 8 Reasons Why Life is Just Better With a Dog!: HERE
Letter Example Template: HERE
MLA Citation Reference Page: HERE
Highlighters (One for each student)
Prior to the Lesson
- Have students bring in pictures of their pets or pets they would like to have to share with the class.
Introduction and Teacher Modeling
- Start by sharing with the class that although they may not want a dog as a pet or may already have a dog, they will be writing an opinion piece and will use “Let’s Get a Dog!” as a practice writing topic for the lesson.
- Begin with a brief mini-lesson to review opinion writing. Discuss what an “opinion” is as a class and what an individual should do if they want someone to agree with their opinion (they need to persuade them). Have a deeper discussion about opinion writing and how it relates to persuasion. Provide an example such as, “Our Family Should Go to Disney World” and have students come up with reasons as a class to persuade their family members into going to Disney World.
- For the next segment of the lesson, students will need access to a computer with internet capabilities. Provide each student a copy of the AKC Article HERE and tell students that their job is to find another different online source to help them construct their opinion letter to their parent/guardian that they should get a dog. Assist students while they navigate google and other web platforms to ensure they are finding appropriate sources.
- After students have located and printed an article or source of their own, have them determine their top three reasons for getting a dog using the two articles. They may highlight the reasons that are most important to them. Have a brief discussion with students about plagiarism and that they must reword or paraphrase anything that they take from the articles into their own words. Do a practice example together as a class.
- Hand out the Pre-Writing Graphic Organizer to the students. Using their two articles, students will complete the graphic organizers in preparation for their rough drafts. The teacher will circulate to assist students with filling out their organizers and paraphrasing information from the articles.
- Using lined paper, the Pre-Writing Graphic Organizer, Letter Example Template, and Opinion Writing Phrases and Transitions Worksheet, students will write a rough draft copy of their opinion piece. Students must include a date, salutation, introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, concluding paragraph, and a closing signature. Instruct students to utilize the template to help them construct the letter, as well as the Opinion Writing Phrases and Transitions Worksheet to help them add “fluffy” words to their piece.
- Once everyone has completed their rough drafts, group the students in pairs and have them peer edit each other’s writing. Ensure they are checking for grammar, spelling, and formatting errors. The teacher then double checks and reviews the rough drafts and returns them to the students to fix any errors prior to completing their final drafts.
- Students neatly write or type their final draft. Have each student complete and include the separate “MLA Citation Reference” page with the names of the two articles behind their letter. The teacher can provide a mini-lesson on properly citing sources and MLA citation during this time.
Review and Closing
- Students can share their letters with the class or with a partner and then can send them to their parents/guardians in the mail. The teacher can also display students’ writing around the classroom.
- As an extension to the writing lesson, have students create PowerPoints in pairs to persuade their parents to get a family dog. Students can present them to the class when finished.
Reisen, Jan. “8 Reasons Why Life Is Just Better With a Dog!”. American Kennel Club, 2017, www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/reasons-life-better-with-dog/.