When I think of January and February, I think holiday weekends. And more importantly, the people that we have to thank for those holiday weekends. So today I’m sharing an idea that ties in with Presidents Day and Black History Month, although it can be done any time of year. It nicely incorporates Social Studies, Close Reading, and Opinion Writing- three birds with one stone.
Prior to this assignment, it can be helpful to introduce or reteach the purpose of Close Reading with your class. Here is an anchor chart that I’ve often used to review with students. It’s a mish mash of different Pinterest ideas all rolled into one poster:
Students can put those close reading and annotating skills to work as they read passages about different American heroes. They might circle key words and phrases, star main ideas, and underline details.
I have also used passages about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, and Betsy Ross. Once students do their multiple close readings and they are well-versed in what these heroes are known for, you could assign this prompt:
You can remind the kids that they must have reasons to support their opinion. And where on earth would they be able to find those reasons? Whenever I’ve had kids turn to their partners and say, “In the text!” I nearly break into song and dance.
I give the kids some time to go back through the text to look for evidence and find reasons why their hero made the biggest difference. They are to include this text evidence when writing their outlines and rough drafts for their paragraphs. After that, we always edit & revise, and then edit & revise some more.
When students were ready to publish, I gave them special final draft paper that was specific to their hero. They get hung up proudly on the writing wall- visitors to our classroom love seeing all the different heroes that everyone chose!
Things are looking a little different these days due to the pandemic, so I just gave this resource a digital update for anyone who is distance learning! Students are able to read the paperless passages and type their opinion writing assignment onto Google Slides.
This same resource is also available at a discount in my American Heroes bundle, which includes final draft writing paper for additional heroes (such as Amelia Earhart, Johnny Appleseed, etc.) as well as an American Hero Project.
Enjoy those upcoming and well-deserved holiday weekends!