Good news: This post is not going to be an expensive one to read...
Last week, I was involved in a professional discussion with teachers about the challenge of finding mentor tests for opinion writing. We came up with a few picture books that demonstrate some craft moves-- I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff and illustrated by David Catrow, Dear Mrs. LaRue by Mark Teague, Earrings by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Nola Langner Malone... However, as much as I love these books for their humor, voice, and structure, they don't provide the mentoring that would really help fourth-grade and up students see what they need to do in order to write high impact opinion/argument texts.
I spent some time reading on-line pieces, and I was really excited to find change.org. I HIGHLY recommend this website for appropriate, engaging, relevant letters that can be analyzed for craft moves, structure, and elaboration. For example, there is a letter petitioning McDonalds to offer healthier alternatives, and I am including just one paragraph of the letter:
Adding plant-based protein options at McDonald's will appeal to workers out for a quick lunch, families with health-conscious members out to dinner, children on field trips, and anyone looking for something different than the current menu at McDonald’s where even the french fries contain beef flavoring (they don't in Europe, incidentally)! According to a recent survey, more than one-third of Americans already buy meat substitutes for reasons that range from health to ethics! So why not make a meatless option available at one of America’s favorite restaurant chains for everyone to enjoy?
This passage could be used as a demonstration text to inspire students to:
- use punctuation deliberately for voice and reader engagement
- include statistics and facts to strengthen an opinion/argument
- state a clear claim that aligns with reasons and evidence
Change.org has TONS of letters and petitions ranging from G/PG rated ones to more provocative, controversial issues. I am sure that you will find examples of opinion writing that will strengthen your workshop instruction across elementary grades and into middle school, as well!