To Improve On-Demand Writing Skills
Students love fidget spinners (and much to a teacher’s dismay), these trendy gadgets have found their way into classrooms everywhere. What is a teacher to do? When you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! Here is how I used the fidget spinner trend to motivate even my most reluctant writers…
How To Introduce a Successful Opinion Writing Lesson
First, I displayed a prompt that would be interesting and engaging for the class to discuss such as, “Are fidget spinners helpful or distracting?”
Then, I provided paired texts that gave pros and cons of fidget spinner use in the classroom. Based on what the students read, they formed an opinion in answer to the prompt. Students returned to the texts to highlight reasons, facts, details, and examples that supported their opinion.
Learn more about how I use multiple text sources in the classroom.
At this point, I found that it is often beneficial for students to discuss their reasons, examples, and ideas with each other. I have learned from experience that talking out loud prior to the writing process helps students solidify their thinking, which often translates into stronger and more cohesive essays.
It is also at this point that I like to introduce additional sources so students can further strengthen their opinions. Since the first sources (paired texts) are in print form, I often show a visual or auditory source such as a video clip, podcast, newscast, etc. For this lesson I showed this short video about fidget spinners in the classroom. It is presented from the teacher’s perspective and provides students with some do’s and don’ts of classroom spinner use.
How To Organize and Evaluate Student Writing
To support students as they scanned sources for relevant facts, details, and examples, I provided a graphic organizer that doubled as a note-taking tool and a scaffolded writing structure. Students transferred their opinion and evidence from their sources onto the graphic organizer.
Once organizers were filled out, students addressed the prompt by writing an argumentative or opinion essay using the graphic organizer as a support.
Students also used a checklist to self-assess their writing skills against their grade level standards and expectations.
The topic of fidget spinners was definitely a crowd pleaser! The students never once complained about this writing assignment. In fact, they were so motivated and engaged that they asked when they could do another lesson like this again!
Happy teaching! ~Tatum
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If you would like the fidget spinners differentiated paired texts, graphic organizers, checklists, and lesson plans that I used to improve my students’ on-demand writing skills, click on the image below.