Opinion Writing is one of my favorite genres to teach. I also think it’s one of the easiest! First of all, our students have opinions on just about EVERYTHING!! Right away, they’re easily engaged with any assignment that asks for their opinion. Opinion essays also follow a specific format, making it much easier to teach than more open-ended genres like narratives. Over the years, I have found that the best way to teach opinion writing is to break it down for students. I like to use a series of mini lessons to help them perfect the different components of an opinion essay.
I recently had a teacher who uses my opinion writing unit, ask me how to teach students the difference between “REASONS” and “SUPPORTING DETAILS”. This is usually something that I would go over with students when they organize their ideas. But when this teacher asked, it made me realize that this was an important lesson itself. I decided to create a “BONUS” lesson to address this skill.
What are Reasons & Supporting Details?
This lesson is simple, but is one students can refer back to when they’re writing their own opinion essays. Start off by explaining to students the difference between reasons and supporting details.
- Reasons: A main idea that supports your opinion.
- Supporting Details: Additional statements, fact, or examples that are used to support the reason or main idea.
Use the examples provided to further clarify the difference between reasons and supporting details. Here are the examples that I use in this lesson:
- Opinion: Dogs make great pets.
- Reason: Dog are very friendly and social animals.
- Supporting Detail: They are always there to welcome you when you come home after a long day.
At this point, I would also encourage you to come up with additional examples. Give students a hypothetical opinion topic and ask them for their opinions. Then ask them to focus in on the reasons behind their opinion. Finally, ask them to provide more details to support those reasons. This is something you can facilitate as a class, or ask students to come up with ideas with partners or in groups.
After going over the definitions and examples with students, ask them to use the bottom portion of this activity to distinguish between the two. I provide 6 different statements on 3 different topics. Ask students to identify the reasons and the supporting details. Be sure to have students explain why the different statements are reasons or supporting details. You can also ask them to come up additional examples of their own.
This BONUS LESSON can be downloaded by clicking HERE!!
If you use my Opinion Writing Unit, this lesson would go great between lessons 3 and 4. However, this lesson can be used with our without my unit. Either way, be sure to have students hang on to this activity to refer back to when writing their own opinion essays. If you would like to learn more about this unit, click HERE or on the pic below.