Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Persuasive/Opinion Writing using A Fine, Fine School {Workshop Wednesday}

Hey there!

I'm here to share a lesson that we use when we are introducing persuasive/opinion writing.  We use this super cute book:

Summary from Amazon:

"On weekends, redheaded Tillie climbs trees and teaches her little brother how to skip. During the week, of course, she goes to school. Her principal, Mr. Keene, is the kind of gung ho leader any school would be lucky to have. That is, until he goes a little over the top. "Oh!" he says. "Aren't these fine children? Aren't these fine teachers? Isn't this a fine, fine school?" And then this exuberant administrator decides five days isn't nearly enough for such a fine school. "From now on, let's have school on Saturdays, too!" The teachers and students are not thrilled, but no one is willing to burst Mr. Keene's bubble. Soon their well-meaning principal has done away with weekends, holidays, and summer vacation. It's time for someone to take action... gently, though. Young Tillie has just the right amount of subtlety and tact--and motivation--for the job."

So, how do we use this book?

Well, I tell the students that I have read them this book because I wanted to prepare them...our principal is thinking about having us come to school on Saturday!!!!

Of course there are moans and groans and usually some outrage, which is exactly what I am looking for.

Now, this book does a great job of sharing the students' side of why we should NOT have school on weekends and holidays, and so this is why I usually use this as one of our first persuasive writing pieces.  I know that the students are going to use a lot of the ideas from the book, which is fine because they will be successful (and I want to set them up for success on one of their first pieces).

So, we brainstorm lists of pros and cons of coming to school on Saturday.

Then, I write a letter to our principal from my perspective, as a teacher, to model for them what I am looking for.  We talk about arguing a point, but also knowing both sides of the situation.  So, I model sentences like, "I know it would seem like teaching students for an extra day each week would seem to help them learn more information faster. However, I think students will be tired having to come to school 6 days a week, plus they may be distracted by the fun they are missing out on by being at school (ball games, birthday parties, etc.).  It's very difficult to teach students who are tired and distracted and that means we would actually get behind because I would have to reteach everything."

And so on.

Then, students decide which side they want to take (and yes, I had a student this year who loves school and wants to be a teacher when she grows up, plus her sisters annoy her, so she wanted to come to school on Saturday!!!).

Then, they decide on 2-3 main points that they want to argue and work on building solid arguments with a lot of details to back themselves up!

They set their letter up like a normal letter and have an opening paragraph stating the issue at hand and their opinion.  Then they write their 2-3 paragraphs supporting their opinion, and conclude the letter by appealing to our principal and rephrasing their opinion.

I have to make sure I explain that they don't want to sound angry in their letter because the principal will not listen if you say something like, "I think it's ridiculous that you are thinking about making us come to school on Saturdays!  What are you thinking?"  We talk a lot about mood and tone of our letters.  We want to be sugary sweet and really lay the guilt trip on her that we don't want to come to school on Saturday  without just disagreeing with her.

Once all of the letters are finished, of course, I tell them that I was just kidding.  I've even emailed parents ahead of time and told them what I'm doing so when the kids come home upset about it, they understand what the students are talking about.  At least, that's how I did it in third grade.  In 4th, some of them catch on that I'm not serious so then I have to tell them to pretend and still try to channel that inner concern and anger about it.

So, this is just one of many books that I use to teach/model persuasive/opinion writing!  There are so many great ones out there! 

Make sure you head to Jessica's blog to check out all of the other great persuasive writing ideas for 

Do you think I'm mean for tricking my students??  ;O)
PS- Sorry there aren't very many pictures in this post!


  1. I love this book, and your idea is a perfect way to use persuasive writing with it. Must do this next year!

  2. Hooray! A new book to buy! ;-) thanks for linking up!
    ideas by jivey
    Follow Me On Facebook! :)

  3. I love that idea! It's something that the kids can easily relate to, and get invested in, which should produce better writing! I'll have to borrow it for next year. Thank you!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

  4. Love it, love it, love it! I can see myself reading this and using this lesson as an intro to persuasive writing and then moving on to a content topic and referring back to this book and the points you made in the lesson. :) I'm pinning! :)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  5. I read this book with my third graders. They loved it and we would also talk about the pros and cons of coming to school on Saturday. Great minds think alike!

    Rosie's Rambles

  6. I can imagine their squeals of displeasure when they thought you were serious :) I did this for an April Fools joke one year - I read an "official memo" from the Principal stating that school would continue on Saturdays for the month of April to prepare for the standardized test :) They (mostly) know I'm kidding - but it still freaked out a couple of them!

    Joy in the Journey

  7. I have never thought to use this book this way - thanks for the fantastic idea - only I would never trick my students that way ;)

    Love, love it all!!

  8. I have never used this book, but it sounds fantastic! I am going to need to get a copy for next year. Thank you for sharing! I can only imagine what my kiddos would do if I said we had school on Saturday!

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  9. LOL! I can just hear the groans and moans coming from your kids! Hey...they say writing is best when it's meaningful and this sounds like a topic that would definitely be meaningful to your kids. Great idea!

    Teacher at the Wheel

  10. I have this book so I can play this prank! It's not mean if you're teaching! haha You have to play at that emotion! I fully support you!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  11. Another must have to add to my ever growing Opinion Mentor texts.
    Great lesson!
    Your blog is adorable and I am your newest follower.
    Stop by sometime.
    My Heart Belongs in First

  12. It encourages in your life to be flawless and sure his life by getting instruction we additionally beginning deduction constructive we remain constructive in our words and deeds training is absolutely insignificant without behavior we should be affable delicate identity virtual as a part of our identity.sentence structure corrector


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