American Heroes: Close Reading and Opinion Writing

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When I think of January and February, I think holiday weekends. And more importantly, the people that we have to thank for those holiday weekends. So today I’m sharing an idea that ties in with Presidents Day and Black History Month. It nicely incorporates Social Studies, Close Reading, and Opinion Writing- three birds with one stone.

Now you may think I’m jumping the gun because Presidents Day and Black History month are technically a month away from now. Buuuuut any primary teacher knows good and well that taking students through the full writing process takes some time. It brings a whole new meaning to “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Therefore, I’m laying it all out for you nice and early so that you can plan and pace accordingly. Here we go:

First, I revisited the purpose of Close Reading with my class. Here is an anchor chart that I often use to review with them. It’s a mish mash of different Pinterest ideas all rolled into one poster:

My second graders put their Close Reading and annotating skills to work when we read passages about 5 different American heroes. We circled key words and phrases, starred main ideas, and underlined details. The heroes that we read about were George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, MLK Jr., Rosa Parks, and Betsy Ross:

I also typically introduce Opinion Writing at this time of year. Once we did our multiple close readings and the kids were well-versed in what these heroes are known for, I assigned this prompt:

I talked with the kids about how they must have reasons to support their opinion. And where on earth would they be able to find those reasons? When kids turned to their partners and said, “In the text” I nearly broke into song and dance. I had gotten nothing but crickets and blank stares during a math lesson earlier that day, so this moment was kind of a big deal.

Moving along. I had the kids take some time to go back through the text to look for evidence and find reasons why their hero made the biggest difference. They included this text evidence when writing their outlines and rough drafts for their paragraphs. After that, we edited & revised, and then edited & revised some more.

When students were ready to publish, I gave them special final draft paper that was specific to their hero. They’re hanging up proudly on our writing wall- visitors to our classroom love seeing all the different heroes that everyone chose!

If you’d like the Close Reading passages and final draft writing paper to use in your class, you can find them right here on Teachers Pay Teachers.

This same resource is also available at a discount in my American Heroes bundle, which includes final draft writing paper for additional heroes (such as Amelia Earhart, Johnny Appleseed, etc.) as well as an American Hero Project.

Enjoy those upcoming and well-deserved holiday weekends!

18 COMMENTS

  1. Love those high standards you have for your students by having them annotate! My students do something similar, and I love that they can confidently give me text evidence! Pretty impressive for second graders if you ask me. 😉

  2. Great post… I love that your students have to provide evidence to support their topic. I find that students sometimes have difficulty supporting statements with evidence during testing. This activity will help.

  3. I’m so incredibly impressed by this!!! I love that you’re getting them started on the close reading and writing process with such thought. I completely support your “Rome wasn’t built in a day” analogy! Oh, and I also break out in a song and dance when my SEVENTH GRADERS realize they need their evidence from the text. Sheesh! Great post!! ❤️ I love this activity and may find s way to modify it to fit my middle school darlings. 😊

    • This comment made me smile! You sound like the kind of friend I’d chat over coffee with (sorry, was the weird? haha!) But in all seriousness, I appreciate the positive feedback and hope that you’re able find an effective way to modify it for your seventh graders!

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