Saturday, 2 November 2013

Developing Opinion Writing and Persuasive Writing skills in school students


What is Opinion Writing?

–It is a form of writing that encourages careful word choice, the development of logical arguments, and a cohesive summary. Young children can be guided through a series of simple steps in an effort to develop their persuasive writing skills.
–In lower grades ( 1-6), it can take up the form of the “What if….” question based on reading texts delivered in class. For example, after a reading of the story of the Shepherd who cried wolf when there was none, an opinion based paragraph could start with, what if the shepherd had not lied before, would the village people have turned up when he sighted the wolf and called for them?
–At the senior grade levels, (10 to 12) Opinion writing can take up the form of a research paper based on specific research techniques. Invariably, the research paper could start with a Hypothesis or a question which the ultimate research would prove correct or incorrect, or for that effect answer a question.
–Research Writing is in most cases based on the Socratic Method of teaching through the introduction of carefully selected questions. The Dialectical approach should be introduced early so that the student develops skills that lead to the expression of Opinion in a logical and rational manner!

Why should we teach our students Opinion Writing skills?

As children grow as mature writers, it's important to give them the opportunity to write extensively using a variety of formats. Persuasive writing helps students formulate specific strategies for expressing their opinions effectively, and provides them with an opportunity to research facts that will support their opinions. As students develop an insight about how writing can influence or affect the thoughts or actions of others, they can begin to appreciate the persuasive nature of the marketing strategies they are exposed to through television, the Internet, and other media.

How should we teach students skills in Opinion Writing?

•Have students listen to or read examples of persuasive writing. Together, listen and look for words, phrases and techniques that helped the writer persuade the listener.
•Brainstorm something that is important to an individual child or the group. Is it extra recess? Another chapter of the read aloud? The potential closing of a library? The more authentic the issue, the more passionately your students will write.
•Once the important privilege is chosen, have the child (or class) start to list reasons why they should be allowed this privilege. "Just because," and "because I like it" should not be considered valid reasons. Students can work together to generate at least three good reasons to support an argument. A list of persuasive words can be prepared before hand by the teacher and then given to the students ( It will benefit the community, for the better good, the need of the hour, urgently required, It is the only alternative,  …etc.).
•Have students do some research to gather facts or examples that support their reasons.
•Have students summarize their position.

Interesting Topics for Research Grades X-XII

•Having a good vocabulary can ensure a successful career! • Education is the only way for eradicating poverty!  •How does literature help us better understand ourselves? • A life devoid of art is a life without taste! •Can all the events around us be anticipated and explained? •I am not responsible for what my friends do around me? •What does the past tell us? •How is information power? •Whose responsibility is it to create the conditions that promote equal rights for all? •Learning of  rules of formal grammar is essential for fluency in languages.


How  we teach opinion Writing from K.G. to grade Six

K.G. Grade Level
At the K.G. Grade level, students came up with very different and interesting opinions based on the story of Goldilocks and the three bears when they were asked what they would like to be, Goldilocks, or the bears, and why? After reading the story, “Jack and the Beanstalk,” the students were asked whether they thought Jack was right to kill the giant, or, they were asked who they liked most, Jack, or the Giant? Students came up with amazing opinions! Some of them believed that Jack was not entirely innocent, in fact they thought that he was guilty of trespassing into the giant’s home!
Grade Two Level
At the Grade two level students are made to differentiate between Fact based writing and Opinion writing with the help of anchor charts based on prompts like “I feel…, I want to share… In my thought”.
Grade Three Level
At the grade three level students are given prompts like, “If both of you and your sister were fighting, would both of you have the same story to tell your Mom?” An anchor chart is then given to them with statement like, “I think potato chips are the best snacks.” The other child has another statement like, “I think Ice cream is the best snack!” Students are given writing prompts/sentence starters and an organiser to fill in. After reading in story of The wolf and the three pigs, students were asked to narrate the story from the wolf’s point of view. They were asked whose point of view they supported and why. This would be based on the scenario where the wolf was arrested by the police and asked to defend himself.
Grade Four Level
Grade Four students had an expedition based opinion writing task on the importance of pairing in the world of nature and the man made world. Picture prompts like those of hooves and shoes, parrot’s beaks and nut cracker, scuba diving flippers and duck’s feet, the wood pecker and the hammer, bombardier beetles beetle and the machine guns. Students were given time to do some research on the net. Students were supposed to observe these picture and then write their opinions.
Grade Six Level
Grade Six the Story The Wild Duck was read in class then the students were given questions which probed their opinions like for example, “What if the boy hadn’t taken care of the duck, would the father have stopped hunting?” The students can then frame their opinions on the topic. Complaint letters in grade six, and letters to the editor in grade seven are exercises and units which help students develop skills in opinion writing and skills in persuasion.

Important questions on research skills at the Grade XI-XII Level:

•How do I write and develop a research question? •How is research conducted? •How can I generate my own research? •What is primary and secondary source information? •How is information organized? •Why is information organized in different ways? •What is the research journey? •Why is research an important 21st century skill?

Important Skills for the Student to Master by  Grade Twelve

•Independent and Dependent research designs - • Articulate and defend information, conclusions, and solutions that address specific        contexts and purposes • Use information technology effectively • Develop 21st. Century Skills • Work as a community of scholars i.e., collaboration • Reach out to a global audience

How to write a Bibliography

It goes without saying that the art of writing a Bibliography is an integral part of any Research paper, and students should be encouraged to practice writing Bibliographies in the accepted format. Before we go further, we should try to understand what a bibliography is besides being a Citation or your sources!
•A bibliography is a list of the sources you used to get information for your report. It is included at the end of your report, on the last page (or last few pages).
•You will find it easier to prepare your final bibliography if you keep track of each book, encyclopaedia, or article you use as you are reading and taking notes. Start a preliminary, or draft, bibliography by listing on a separate sheet of paper all your sources. Note down the full title, author, place of publication, publisher, and date of publication for each source.
•Also, every time a fact gets recorded on a note card, its source should be noted in the top right corner. When you are finished writing your paper, you can use the information on your note cards to double-check your bibliography.
•When assembling a final bibliography, list your sources (texts, articles, interviews, and so on) in alphabetical order by authors' last names. Sources that don't have authors (encyclopaedias, movies) should be put into alphabetical order by title. There are different formats for bibliographies, so be sure to use the one your teacher prefers.
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Accepted Formats

The two main formats,  accepted worldwide have been given below:
•There are two main types of bibliography formats: MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association).
MLA format is typically used by those writing in the liberal arts or humanities community. It focuses on the author of the cited source material, in order to help the reader place him or her in the appropriate historical and philosophical context. 
APA format, on the other hand, is used more often in the social sciences and is useful for citing from journals and other such publications. Its focus is more on the research presented in the source and when it was released, rather than the individuals who conducted it.
•Regardless of the format used, every bibliography citation has to have a minimum amount of identifying information. The source matters when it comes to formatting the entry — book titles are underlined, article titles are in quotation marks — and determines what information is needed (for example: a book's publisher vs. a web page's URL).

Examples of the Bibliography

  1. Broome, Ken (1997), ‘Life at the top!’ The Herald Sun, Nov 21, 1997
  2. Davis, Heather: ‘Guidelines to writing’ [Online] Available    &lt.> Jan 7, 1999
  3. ‘Mammals’ World Book Encyclopedia (1996) vol. 12 World Book Inc., Chicago
  4. Smith, Kate (1998), Life in Asia, Collins, Melbourne
  5. Choi, C 2003, 'Cleaner living' Scientific American, vol. 289, no. 5, p. 32.
  6. 'Germany' The world book encyclopedia 2004, World Book, Sydney, vol. 8, pp. 114-116.
  7. ' Jupiter' Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition 2006, viewed 10 November 2006, <>.
    Oakley, V 2003, 'The tragic trade', Australian, 15 November, p. 29.
  8. Ward, C 2004, Australian bush fires burn on, Disaster Relief, viewed 10 January 2007,

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