Changing the World – a 3rd grade Opinion Writing Unit

I just finished co-teaching band 1 and 2 of the Changing the World, Grade 3, Unit 3. Due to timing, we didn’t teach band three at this time. We were motivated to teach this unit from April 11 to May 12 because our district, Arlington County Public Schools in Arlington, VA is considering adopting the Unit of Study for Teaching Writing for the 2016-17 school year and our administration encouraged us to try one of the units before the end of the 2015-16 school year. Here are my reflections.

Katie, a 3rd grade teacher next door, and I met the week before starting the unit to make a plan. We wanted to publish on May 12 as May 13th was a fieldtrip day and the next week was our state test. So we decided we had time to teach the first two bends. This became the plan:

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We decide we would alternate day-by-day who was guiding the mini-lesson to our combined 42 students. We have a classroom space where we can open the wall between our rooms, so we did that each day from 2:20-3:20pm and we used my rug area as the gathering space for both classes of students. We assigned them partners and spots and they knew to come to that spot each day for the mini-lesson. We used Google Slides to show the Teaching Point of the Day and any visuals needed for the mini-lesson for the students to view on the SmartPanel during the lesson. Then they returned to their desk to write. To encourage independence, we both posted anchor charts and writing goals on one wall of each of our classrooms. We stood between the rooms to deliver the Mid-Workshop Interruption. Then around 3:15 each day, the students found their partner and shared.

Click HERE to have access to all our Google Slides.

REFLECTIONS:

  1. I loved having a partner to do this work Each session is lots to read but being in change of the deliver every other day did not overwhelm.
  2. We teaching point words worked!! I loved holding my fist high and saying “Bold and Brave” and waving my open hand back and forth when I said “not wishy-washing”.
  3. I was worried that the first day would be too much and was nervous knowing that the Principal was coming at 3:15pm and at 2:15pm, we were just introducing the idea that we should have more magazines in the school library. But is worked so well. In one day, the students wrote and changed their world! It was a perfect “drumroll” to motivate us for this unit.
  4. We went with the examples in the session and started writing about our custodian. I found myself watching what she was doing every time I saw her in the hallways once we started writing about her. Suddenly, I observed and had so much evidence to add to my opinion about a noteworthy person.
  5. As the students picked their topic, I started to think about WHO needed to be at our Publishing Party. One student wanted the PE teacher to have a longer Hockey unit so I realized, I should invite him. Another wrote about an idea for more comic books in the library, so I needed to invite the librarian.
  6. BEST PUBLISHING PARTY ever!! We added round tables to the hallway and ensured that we had 10 gathering spaces with 4 student writers and 2-3 adult listeners at each table. We asked that each read their opinion and then each listener give a specific positive comment. And we strategically placed adults who had the power to make change be at tables with writers who had opinions of interest to the adults. The 10 gathering spots allowed all to read their comments and all to give and receive positive feedback!! SO FUN!!

PICTURES taken during the Publishing Party:

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To help give feedback, we created this HANDOUT.

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And what did the kids write about? Their writing can be found HERE.

Problem / Solution

Room 212 should have a class pet.

We need to save sea life.

Notable People

Waiters and Waitress should be appreciated.

Miss Kathy, my swim instructor, is the best.

Notable Places

Disneyland is a great place to visit.

Breckenridge is a great place to visit.

A few more pictures – 

This anchor chart listing our Bold and Brave Thesis Statement as suggested in the unit was a great visual to have in the room:

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One day as my Morning Meeting Message, I asked the students to write a problem and a solution they noticed. I got these ideas jotted down:

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