Yesterday I started teaching a new Unit of Study with my 3rd graders. Last year, I taught this unit (but only Bend 1 and 2) for the first time. I refreshed my memory by rereading my blog post reflection at the end of that teaching. You can read it HERE.
I recalled that Session 1 has you experience the whole writing process from an idea to reading your flash draft it to your authentic audience, all in one class period. To help make it happen, an idea is given – Our School Needs More Magazines. I taught it last year using that prompt and it worked well. However, lately my class has been “caught” playing this game on their iPad that looks very mindless and noneducational. Plus, they are only to use links posted by me to Google Classroom or apps on their iPad that are approved by the school. This gave me a new idea!
I asked the class to prepare a speech that would persuade me to add more links to Google Classroom or add an app to the school app catalogue or to persuade me that no additional links are needed. Four kids chose the last option. A few wrote about why the Minecraft app should be added. LOTS wrote about mope.io, the game I had “caught” many playing before. A few about Discovery Education. And one about Math Playground.
WOW! After guiding them as suggested in the Session One mini-lesson, ALL wrote. All wrote long and strong. Just before the share, I placed the class in 5 groups and asked them to share with their group and pick a spokesperson to share aloud for their group, trying to convince my co-teacher and I that more links should be added to their Google Classroom.
After a 5 minute share, we gathered on the rug in a circle and the spokespersons shared!! So many reasons were stated. So much evidence. Statements included: It’s educational, it helps us be creative and use our imagination, it teaches us about food chains and ecosystems, it is fun.
After the share, I asked how they felt about writing their opinion. Many stated how it was easy because they knew the link they were trying to persuade me to add. Because they knew it so well, they could more easily write lots of reasons and examples. WOW! Their responses reminded me again of the importance of CHOICE when we write!
Last night I crafted this letter back to my class which I will share with them today as we continue on to Session 2 – Gathering Brave, Bold Opinions for Persuasive Writing!
February 7, 2017
Dear Students in Room 212,
Thank you for sharing your opinion in a speech related to adding or not adding some links in Google Classroom. Your speeches were very persuasive.
Cailtin’s bold and brave thesis statement that Math Playground should be added was followed by strong reasons. It will keep our brain working and it has challenging puzzles and it gives practice on 3rd grade skills like multiplication, fractions and money. Because of her strong reasons, we have added Math Playground to the MATH GOOGLE CLASSROOM! Go to the ABOUT page and give it a try to practice your math skills while having fun on your iPad. We just tried The Candy Challenge and recommend it!!
In addition, we were moved by those of you wanting a link to Discovery Education and Education World. You stated many reasons it is valuable to our learning and we are looking into adding it. But first we need to figure out if you need a password. Once we learn the particulars, we will add it, too.
We were very persuaded by the MInecraft argument. I would love to add a link to Minecraft allowing you to be creative, imaginative, and use engineering skills. However, the app and online link both cost money. At this time, I can only add links that are free. Sorry.
We are not totally convinced about the Mope.io game. We agree that a game that teaches about food chains and ecosystems could be beneficial to 3rd graders. However, we would need to hear a speech where the speech writer has studied the game and can prove that the food eaten by the animals is actually food that that animal would eat in the real world. We further suggest that if it is determined that the game is NOT accurate to the ecosystems, maybe a letter could be written to the game creators asking them to make adjustments so your teachers would approve it. As of now, we are not convinced of its educational value so we won’t be adding it.
We also were moved those of you who felt we have enough to do on our iPad and do not believe we need to add more. Your argument was convincing because you added the actual number of links and apps 3rd graders in Room 212 have available to them to use. Your argument helped persuade us to think you have enough.
Thank you all for writing bold thesis statements that clearly stated your opinion. Thank you for adding reasons and specific evidence related to your reasons. You are a convincing group of speech writers and it is only Day 1 of our Unit.
Look out world! I foresee some writing that will indeed change our world!!
Mrs. Donnelly and Mrs. Cherry
PS – Special thanks to Lucy Calkins and Kelly Boland Hohne for writing the 3rd grade Opinion Writing Unit – Changing the World. Kelly taught me last summer at the TCRWP Reading Institute. If you ever get the chance to learn from her, DO!!