Young students benefit from having a chance to practice leading their peers in ways that encourage responsibility, fairness, and fun.
In a recent opinion writing unit, I was looking for a way to make a more meaningful connection between the writing and a change that the children could effect. So often, we ask our students to write persuasive essays without giving them a chance to act upon them or see if their persuasive opinions work.
We started with writing book reviews, but then I decided to offer my students a chance to persuade me to make a change in the classroom. The essays would have the same structure and content as required by the writing curriculum:
- Begin with an introduction that has a hook and a clearly stated opinion
- Present at least two reasons with evidence
- Include and address one counter-reason from me
- Finish with a conclusion and a call to action
The students generated ideas such as having a class pet (a common request), having more science learning time, having more time to read books on the iPad app Epic, and having longer recesses. All fair requests. By far, the most popular idea was about student leadership—a student president—an idea that I used for my model writing.