Lesson Plan #22
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vs. Opinion writing
Grades 7 to 12
Language Arts, Journalism, Media Studies
OVERVIEW OF LESSON PLAN
This lesson plan teaches students that writing a persuasive or
argumentative essay for class is the same as writing an opinion
article for their local newspaper. Use SchoolNet News Network's
website to review journalism writing styles; check out SNN Monthly
magazine for samples of articles.
MATERIALS AND PREPARATION
1. Discuss opinion writing, persuasive/argumentative
writing. Why is it important for students as well as other citizens
to be able to express themselves this way? (Persuasive/Argumentative
writing and opinion articles allow the writer to use logic and
reason to convince the readers to agree with his or her opinion
on a certain issue. In order to persuade readers to adopt a particular
point of view, the writer needs to come up with an argument that
uses sound reasoning and solid evidence.)
2. Show your students how this kind of writing applies to
their daily life. Show your students samples of opinion writing
from SNN Monthly. Also, bring in a couple of newspapers and turn
to the editorial section. The persuasive essay appears in the
newspaper every day in the form of editorials, columns, or letters
to the editor.
Take a look through the editorial sections from The Globe
and Mail (http://www.globeandmail.com)
and The National Post (http://www.nationalpost.com) two papers which
are distributed to many places across Canada. Check out SNN's
Newsroom The Wire' section for
links to local newspapers. Look at the Editorial Section
Other people - including writers and public figures - have
the opportunity to express their views on subject by writing
a column that applies specifically to their opinions and not
those of a group. Every citizen is free to voice his or her opinion
by writing a letter to the editor, which may appear (at the editor's
discretion) in the newspaper's editorial section alongside other
3. Brainstorm with students on ideas for opinion articles.
Write the students ideas on the board. Here are some ideas:
- Has computer technology in the schools helped the students
of 2000 learn more effectively than the students of 1980 or 1960?
- Should teenagers have to wait until they are 19 before they
can get their driver's licences?
- Movie ratings, warnings on CD labels, acceptable use policies
for the Internet -- these are all methods used to control or
limit what young people see, read and hear. Should young people
be able to make their own decisions about what's acceptable?
- Your views on gun control
- look at issues facing people in your own community
such as a decision to demolish a historic building or the controversy
surrounding a new law against skateboarding.
Assign story ideas.
4. Discuss with them how to write a convincing
opinion article/persuasive essay. The writer must research the
topic and come up with a variety of information that can be used
to build a compelling argument.
- State the facts of the case.
- Quote the opinion of experts and other people who know a
lot about the subject.
- Offer examples and anecdotes from his or her own life or
other people's experience.
- Use statistics to back up parts of argument.
- Compare the situation to something that people can readily
- Give logical reasons for his or her opinion.
- Anticipate and deal with any opposition to his or her argument.
5. HOMEWORK: Students must then begin researching
their assigned stories, using the information listed in #4. Research
can be done through internet news sites, newspapers, magazines,
etc. Urge them to form their own opinions, based on what they've
read and what they already know or believe.
Their article should answer the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Where,
Why (and sometimes How). Tell them about the inverted pyramid.
This means that articles should be written with the most important
information first and the least important last. Students should
also review SNN's Writing Guide
and Lesson #1
on Writing a Newspaper Article.
Students will be assessed on in-class participation and well-written
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