Example Essay Giving Opinion Pmrg

We started our opinion writing unit this week. My goal for this week was to have students learn to state an opinion using academic language. Because opinions also require reasons, we did supplying reasons, but I did not ask students to use academic language or linking words to supply reasons . . . yet. We only focused using academic language with the opinion statement.

All of the materials you see in the pictures come from my Opinion Writing Tools packet on TpT.  It has a whole unit’s worth of resources to scaffold and teach opinion writing.

Monday: State an Opinion

Goal: Introduce opinion writing and the concept of stating an opinion and supplying reasons

This was our first day working with opinion writing formally this year. I did what I did last year to introduce opinion writing and we wrote about recess as a shared activity. Since we all go to recess and have that background knowledge, it was the best topic to do as a whole class the first time through.

After doing the whole group brainstorming of activities students can do at recess, pairs went off to come up with their reasons. We came back together to report out one or two reasons for each recess activity. Then, students wrote a paragraph (I use that term loosely here) choosing one recess activity and giving reasons why they like it.

My goal for this day was to introduce the concept and emphasize the need to state an opinion and supply reasons.  Those terms were nailed in over and over throughout the lesson and writing.

Tuesday: Use Sentence Frames to State an Opinion

Goal: Use sentence frames to state an opinion

On day two, I introduced students to using sentence frames to state an opinion. Since this was their first day working with the sentence frames, I kept it simple and stuck to these sentence frames.  I was a hard ball about it and required that students used these frames, at least for today.

As I introduced the sentences to the class, I starred them with different colors and emphasized the level of difficulty. As students move down the chart, the sentences get more complex and more “college-like”.

Whole Group Practice with Stating an Opinion

We did some whole group practice, chorally saying the frames as well as some whole group practice responding to prompts using the frames. The prompts were the same ones students were going to use with a partner during the partner practice.

During the whole group practice, I had students sit knee to knee, meaning they were sitting criss-cross and their knees were touching. I had one student ask the question and the other student answer the question using a sentence frame.

I didn’t give students the prompt strips, but just said the question orally for the whole group. I said it twice, so that the first student could get it and so that the second student had some thinking time. The first student repeated the prompt and the second student answered the question.

After answering, we came back whole group and I called on a few students, emphasizing the different sentence frames they chose to use. We did this with a few prompts, switching who was asking and answering the questions.

Partner Practice with Stating an Opinion

After we had some whole group guided practice, students then did some partner practice. To do this, I printed the prompt strips on one colored piece of paper and a the sentence frames on another colored piece of paper. Each student had to find a partner with the opposite kind of paper. The student with the prompt paper asked the question and student with the sentence frame paper responded. After asking and answering, students switched papers and found a new partner. We did a few rounds of this then came back together whole group.

Individual Writing

Since we had spend so much time on the whole group and partner practice today, I gave students an easy prompt: their favorite food. We did a quick web and I sent students off to write their opinion paragraph. I emphasized that they had to state their opinion using a sentence frame and give three reasons.

I generally don’t like giving students a quantity when writing, but if I didn’t they’d write one sentence and say they were done. They don’t understand the concept of having to thoroughly explain their opinion. I think it might be a developmental issue with second graders or a language or poverty issue. That’s a discussion for another time, but I’d love some insight on it if you want to comment below.

Wednesday: Practice

Goal: Practice using sentence frames to state an opinion

We were three days into our unit on opinion writing. Today, we again practiced stating an opinion using academic language. We practiced a little bit whole group, sitting knee-to-knee, but it was a quick practice.

I then had students go back to their table groups and play a board game. It was a very simple board game where they flipped over a card, gave their opinion using a sentence frame, rolled the die, and moved a marker. This just gave them one more way to practice.

After the board game, I gave students three prompts from the game. Students chose a prompt, wrote an opinion statement and three reasons for it.

While students were writing, I circulated the room and made sure each student had used a sentence frame to state their opinion. I noticed that most students used, “I prefer ___”. This was first on the chart and first on my list. I’m assuming that the frequency of use was because that prompt was first on the lists. Something to think about!

Thursday: More Practice

Goal: Work with academic language and provide more practice

On Thursday, students sorted opinions and reasons. We did a whole group sort with opinions and reasons I had taken from their writing the previous three days. I cleaned up the writing a little bit, but used mostly their writing with a few other more difficult ones thrown in.

During the whole group sort, I used the same headers, State an Opinion and Supply Reasons. We first sorted the strips of paper into option and reason. Then we matched the reason to the correct opinion. This whole group activity mirrored what I wanted students to do during their independent activity.

Students did their own sort. The worksheet had sentences modeling the sentence frames and high-level language. The sentence structures are much higher than what students are producing in class.  This gives them exposure to accurate academic language for opinion writing.

After sorting, students chose one opinion and reason pair. They wrote that opinion and reason on a blank paper and wrote two more reasons to go with that opinion.  Not only was I able to get another piece of writing from students, they used the given opinion statement and matching reason to practice some higher-level writing.

Friday: Practice Writing Opinion Statements

Goal: Practice writing opinion statements flexibly

On Friday, we again discussed the sentence frames, and, using a few prompts from Monday, we practiced with a partner. I had one student ask if he could combine sentence frames, which opened up the discussion for how to adjust the sentence frames. I love it!

Although I had said all week that students had to use the sentence frames when they stated an opinion, I also repeatedly said that they could adjust the frames to meet their needs. Today was the day that most students actually got it. They were able to see how they could manipulate the sentence frames. I added a couple extra words to show students how the phrases can move around and be used with different frames. We practiced a bit with these additions.

Students then went back to their seat and practiced just stating their opinion four times.  I told them that because we had used “I prefer__” so often that they couldn’t use that frame.  They also had to use a different frame for each prompt.  One student had the brilliant idea to cross out the ones that were already used.

Here are a few student samples so you can see where they’re at with their writing.

This student needed some coaching on finishing his opinion in #4.

I’m not sure why he erased “to the”.

This is one of my highest students. #4 isn’t completed, but it gives you the idea.

This is one of my lower students who has come a long way this year.

This student is one of my lowest English learners.  She did an awesome job using the sentence frame, but the rest of the sentence was missing a few components to make it clear.

From here, students chose one opinion statement to develop into a full paragraph with reasons.  By this day, students’ reasons were so much better.  They were actually complete sentences!  I still have a few kiddos who are having difficulty coming up with reasons.  Do you have any suggestions for those students?


Throughout the whole week, I made sure that students were writing an opinion and set of reasons each day. I want a set of student work that we can refer back to and revise over the coming weeks as we delve deeper into opinion writing. Plus, I felt that students really need to write each and every day, not just practice the component (state an opinion) we were working on for the week.

By writing each day, I could really see students writing develop throughout the week. The biggest change was the use of the word because. I started emphasizing that students couldn’t use it at the beginning of the week because students were not writing their reasons in complete sentences. By the end of the week, I had complete sentences. Albeit, very simple sentences, like I can kick the ball, but it’s a complete sentence that is a real reason.  I can work with that.

A complete sentence will allow us to work on supplying reasons using academic language and linking words. Without a complete sentence for the reason, that would not have been possible.

All of the materials you see in the pictures come from my Opinion Writing Tools packet on TpT.  It has a whole unit’s worth of resources to scaffold and teach opinion writing.

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Filed Under: WritingTagged With: opinion writing

Introduction

This lesson will help you answer IELTS writing task 2 discussion (or discuss both views and give your opinion) questions.

These particular questions require a different approach to opinion essays because you have to discuss both sides rather than just argue in favour of one side.

This post will look at:

  • Identifying the question
  • Example Questions
  • Structure
  • Sample Answer
  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource


Many students fail to do well in these kinds of questions because they do not do what the question asks them to do and they do not use an appropriate structure. This post will help you overcome these problems and give you a sample answer.

We will also look at ‘lexical resource’ and ‘coherence and cohesion’; two of the marking criteria IELTS examiners use when marking your essays. Understand the marking scheme will help you to get inside the head of an IELTS examiner and give then exactly what they want.

Identifying the Question

Look at the three questions below and choose one you think is a discussion question.

  1. Computers are being used more and more in education and so there will soon be no role for the teacher in education.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

  1. Computers are being used more and more in education.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

  1. Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences.

Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

The first question is an opinion question and we can tell this from the instructions ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree?’.

The second question is obviously an advantages and disadvantages question.

The third question is the discussion question. We can tell this from the typical instructions in the question ‘Discuss both sides of the argument and then give your opinion’.

You may also be asked to ‘Discuss both views and give you opinion’ or ‘Discuss both sides of the argument and give your opinion’.

Each of these questions is asking us to do different things and we therefore need a different structure for each question.

Example Questions

Here are a few other typical discussion questions:

  1. A growing number of people feel that animals should not be exploited by people and that they should have the same rights as humans, while others argue that humans must employ animals to satisfy their various needs, including uses for food and research.

Discuss both views and give your opinion.

  1. Blood sports have become a hot topic for debate in recent years. As society develops it is increasingly seen as an uncivilized activity and cruel to the helpless animals that are killed. All blood sports should be banned.

Discuss the main arguments for this statement and give your own opinion.

  1. Some people think that the best way to reduce crime is to give longer prison sentences. Others, however, believe there are better alternative ways of reducing crime.

Discuss both views and give your opinion.

As you can see, they typically state two opinions and then ask you to discuss both and give your opinion. Make sure you do these things in the essay. If you only discuss both views and fail to give your opinion you will lose marks.

Structure

For discussion questions, I suggest you use the following four paragraph structure.

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- State Both Points of View

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement

Sentence 3- Outline Sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- State first viewpoint

Sentence 2- Discuss first viewpoint

Sentence 3- Reason why you agree or disagree with viewpoint

Sentence 4- Example to support your view

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- State second viewpoint

Sentence 2- Discuss second viewpoint

Sentence 3- Reason why you agree or disagree with viewpoint

Sentence 4- Example to support your view

Conclusion

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- State which one is better or more important

Practice  

Here is a sample answer but I have mixed up the sentences. Can you match the sentences below to the structure above?

This exercise will help you understand the structure.

  1. In conclusion, while the benefits of technology, particularly the internet, allow students to tap into limitless sources of information, some still feel that people should be wary of this new phenomenon and not allow it to curb face to face interaction.
  2. There is an ever increasing use of technology, such as tablets and laptops, in the classroom.
  3. It is clear that the internet has provided students with access to more information than ever before.
  4. Moreover, learners have the ability to research and learn about any subject at the touch of a button. It is therefore agreed that technology is a very worthwhile tool for education.
  5. However, many disagree and feel that technology deprives people of real human interaction.
  6. Human interaction teaches people valuable skills such as discourse, debate and empathy.
  7. Despite this, human interaction is still possible through the internet and this essay disagrees technology should be dismissed for this reason.
  8. This essay agrees that an increase in technology is beneficial to students and teachers. This essay will discuss both points of view.
  9. For instance, Skype and Facebook make it possible for people to interact in ways that were never before possible.
  10. Wikipedia is a prime example, where students can simply type in any keyword and gain access to in-depth knowledge quickly and easily.
  11. However, as long as we are careful to keep in mind the importance of human interaction in education, the educational benefits are clearly positive.
  12. It is often argued that this is a positive development, whilst others disagree and think it will lead to adverse ramifications.

Example Answer

Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences.

Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

There is an ever increasing use of technology, such as tablets and laptops, in the classroom. It is often argued that this is a positive development, whilst others disagree and think it will lead to adverse ramifications. This essay agrees that an increase in technology is beneficial to students and teachers. This essay will discuss both points of view.

It is clear that the internet has provided students with access to more information than ever before. Moreover, learners have the ability to research and learn about any subject at the touch of a button. It is therefore agreed that technology is a very worthwhile tool for education. Wikipedia is a prime example, where students can simply type in any keyword and gain access to in-depth knowledge quickly and easily.

However, many disagree and feel that technology deprives people of real human interaction. Human interaction teaches people valuable skills such as discourse, debate and empathy. Despite this, human interaction is still possible through the internet and this essay disagrees technology should be dismissed for this reason. For instance, Skype and Facebook make it possible for people to interact in ways that were never before possible.

In conclusion, while the benefits of technology, particularly the internet, allow students to tap in to limitless sources of information, some still feel that people should be wary of this new phenomenon and not allow it to curb face to face interaction. However, as long as we are careful to keep in mind the importance of human interaction in education, the educational benefits are clearly positive.

(266 words)

Task Achievement

This is one of the four areas you will be assessed on in the IELTS writing test.

Task achievement refers to your ability to address all parts of the question and present a fully developed answer. By following the structure above, we have fully discussed both sides of the argument and given our opinion. This is exactly what the question asked us to do, no more, no less.

Coherence and Cohesion

Discourse markers (words like ‘however’, ‘despite this’ and ‘In conclusion’) are also referred to as ‘linking words’ and ‘linking phrases’, or ‘sentence connectors’. They are quite formal and are used more in academic writing than informal speech.

You gain marks for using these under the ‘coherence and cohesion’ section of the marking scheme. These words ‘stick’ the other words together and lend continuity to sentences and paragraphs.

If you do not include discourse markers in your IELTS writing, your answer will appear illogical and it is more difficult to understand.

However, this does not mean that you should try to insert as many of these words in to your writing as possible. This is a common mistake in IELTS writing.  Using too many of them, or using them inappropriately, can make your writing sound too heavy and unnatural. They are important, but must only be used at the appropriate time.

Practice

Try to identify any discourse markers in the essay above? Don’t look at the essay below yet. How many can you find?

Sample Answer with Discourse Markers

Here is the sample answer again with the discourse markers in bold.

There is an ever increasing use of technology, such as tablets and laptops, in the classroom. It is often argued that this is a positive development, whilst others disagree and think it will lead to adverse ramifications. This essay agrees that an increase in technology is beneficial to students and teachers. This essay will discuss both points of view.

It is clear that the internet has provided students with access to more information than ever before. Moreover, learners have the ability to research and learn about any subject at the touch of a button. It is therefore agreed that technology is a very worthwhile tool for education. Wikipedia is a prime example, where students can simply type in any keyword and gain access to in-depth knowledge quickly and easily.

However, many disagree and feel that technology deprives people of real human interaction. Human interaction teaches people valuable skills such as discourse, debate and empathy. Despite this, human interaction is still possible through the internet and this essay disagrees technology should be dismissed for this reason. For instance, Skype and Facebook make it possible for people to interact in ways that were never before possible.

In conclusion, while the benefits of technology, particularly the internet, allow students to tap in to limitless sources of information, some still feel that people should be wary of this new phenomenon and not allow it to curb face to face interaction. However, as long as we are careful to keep in mind the importance of human interaction in education, the educational benefits are clearly positive.

Lexical Resource

This is also one of the four criteria you will be marked on and it refers to your ability to use a wide range of accurate vocabulary.

A common mistake is to repeat the same words over and over again. You will lose marks if you do this. A solution to this problem is to use synonyms. You can either think of synonyms as you are writing or leave time at the end to add them in.

Practice

Can you identify any synonyms in the essay above?

Here are some examples:

Computers- technology

Computers- the internet

Education- in the classroom

Education- students and teachers

Positive trend- positive development

Negative Consequences- adverse ramifications

By varying your vocabulary in this way you are demonstrating that you have a wide vocabulary and this will boost your band score. However, like discourse markers be careful not to use inappropriate/inaccurate words. Only use words you are confident about. Mistakes will lead to fewer marks.

Next Steps

Do you need me to correct your essays and give you feedback on them? Check out our essay correction service.

I hope this post helps you with discussion questions and if you have any questions please comments below.

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