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Meaningful talk 6: Opinion stations

Help students share and support their opinions with this teacher-led dialogic lesson

Students are asked to take a stance and identify text evidence to support it.

As you have already seen from previous blogs, there are a number of ways to get students talking about a text and engaging in discussion. Next, we are going to explore opinion stations – a lesson that allows students to refine their own opinions and support.

The basic premise

Students are first given a prompt based on a text they have read. This prompt asks them to take a stance/opinion on a statement – disagree, strongly disagree, agree, strongly agree. The students write and support their opinion as the warm-up for class.

The teacher then reviews the learning intention and success criteria for the day.

Students then filter to the corner of the room that matches their opinion. Ideally, you end up with four groups – disagree, strongly disagree, agree, and strongly agree. In these groups, students discuss their opinion and locate text evidence to support it.

The student groups then share out – starting with strongly disagree. It is important to start with one of the “strongly” groups because they will likely have a more clear cut opinion, where the agree or disagree will be more nuanced. So if there doesn’t end up being a strongly disagree group, start with the strongly agree group. It’s important for the students to share their text evidence. The students in the other groups should be taking notes. When the group has finished speaking, the other groups can ask questions.

The rotations continue until all groups have shared.

Finally, the students complete an exit ticket. On this they will first reflect on whether or not their opinion changed and why. They will then restate their opinion and support it with text evidence.

Example lesson

For this example lesson, let’s go back to our original text “The Most Dangerous Game.” Students have already read and discussed this short story that deals with one man being hunted by another. If you are not familiar, both men are big game hunters, but one is now being hunted. The protagonist is Rainsford. We will use the new 8th grade ELA TEKS.

Warm-up Writing

Look at the following statement and decide whether you agree, disagree, strongly agree, or strongly disagree with the statement. Make sure to support your opinion with evidence from the text. You have 15 minutes.

Rainsford is deeply changed and no longer believes hunting is a respectable pastime.

When time is up, the teacher reviews the learning intention and success criteria.

Warm-up Writing Prompt

When time is up, the teacher reviews the learning intention and success criteria.

Learning Intention

Students will take a stance and support that stance with text evidence

Success Criteria

  • Students will write an initial reflection on their stance, including text evidence

  • Students will develop a strong and well-supported stance with their like-minded peers

  • Students will listen to and question peers with other stances

  • Students will re-evaluate their stance based on the discussions and text evidence presented

  • Students will reflect on that re-evaluation and support their current stance in a written draft exit ticket

Next, students go to their respective corners. They must now discuss and hone their opinions and identify relevant text evidence. They write their evidence on a poster or chart paper to better show the class their evidence.

When the groups have completed their work, they share with the class – pointing out text evidence including page numbers and direct quotations.

The other groups annotate their copies of the stories. This will help them with their exit ticket. Groups can ask other groups questions to better help them understand the opinion and identify relevant text evidence.

When all groups have shared, the students return to their desks and respond individually to the exit ticket.

Exit ticket

Go back to your original opinion. Did it change? Why or why not? Please state your current opinion and support it with relevant evidence from the text.

So what did the students do?

Read: they had to re-read, individually and as a group, the mentor text. They also had to annotate and take notes, interacting with the text.

Write: students had to write both their initial response and an exit ticket – which could be used as pre-writing for a longer, more developed essay

Listen: students had to listen to those in their own group, as well as those in the other groups in order to take notes and ask questions.

Speak: students had to share with their own group as well as present to the other groups.

Think: students had to formulate and support an opinion, as well as synthesize new information that may or may not alter their opinion.

The following TEKS were addressed in this lesson:

  • 8.5F - Make inferences and use evidence to support understanding.

  • 8.5G - Evaluate details read to determine key ideas.

  • 8.5H - Synthesize information to create new understanding.

  • 8.6B - Write responses that demonstrate understanding of texts, including comparing sources within and across genres.

  • 8.6C - Use text evidence to support an appropriate response.

  • 8.6E - Interact with sources in meaningful ways such as notetaking, annotating, freewriting, or illustrating.

  • 8.6F – Respond when using newly acquired vocabulary as appropriate

  • 8.6G - Discuss and write about the explicit or implicit meanings of text.

  • 8.6H - Respond orally or in writing with appropriate register, vocabulary, tone, and voice.

  • 8.6I – Reflect on and adjust responses as new evidence is presented

  • 8.7B - Analyze how characters' motivations and behaviors influence events and resolution of the conflict.

  • 8.8A - Demonstrate knowledge of literary genres such as realistic fiction, adventure stories, historical fiction, mysteries, humor, fantasy, science fiction, and short stories.

  • 8.9A - Explain the author's purpose and message within a text.

  • 8.10A - Plan a first draft by selecting a genre appropriate for a particular topic, purpose, and audience using a range of strategies such as discussion, background reading, and personal interests.

With opinion stations we again see how reading, writing, listening, speaking, and thinking can be integrated into one lesson. Students are using and building all their literacy skills! This reading workshop jumps directly into a writing workshop.

Stay tuned for even more lesson ideas to get your students reading, writing, listening, speaking, and thinking every day!

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