Tier Two

Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District

Fourth Graders Create Opinion Essays at the Location of their Choice

As they get ready to move to fifth grade, Todd fourth graders are stepping up their essay writing game and are working on opinion pieces to support their thesis.

“The students are working on a five-paragraph literary essay. This is their culminating writing assignment for the year; it is a part of the Teachers College Writing Program,” said fourth grade teacher Lorraine McDermott.

Each student was asked to select a character from one of three books: “My father’s Dragon,” “The One and Only Ivan,” and “The Wild Robot.” Next, they developed a central idea regarding the character and are now in the middle of proving it with the essay.

“The body paragraphs of the essay will feature three different reasons to support their thesis,” Ms. McDermott explained.

The students are responsible to find textual support and exact quotes to support each reason. They are challenged with the task of finding tree quotes to support each reason.

“My thesis from ‘The One and Only Ivan,’ is that Ivan is a compassionate gorilla,” said a student named Paige. “My reasons are that Ivan is caring, that he is thoughtful and that he is a good friend. All of these show that he is a compassionate gorilla.”

For each of the reasons in their essays, students need to come up with three supporting quotes from the book.

“They are really enjoying it,” said Ms. McDermott, who is allowing her students the freedom to choose where they want to write their essays. Whether at their desks, on the floor next to their friends, or even lying on their backs, she feels the freedom to choose most often equals greater productivity and creativity.