Wednesday March 29/17

Today we’re going to work on our opinion paragraphs. You must submit what you have done today to our google classroom. No more time will be given for rough drafts after today.

Once you’re done, you will have an opportunity to check out the four different literature circle books. You must look at each of the four (even if you’ve read one) and fill out the Book Look sheet.

Handouts for today:

Book Look

Tuesday March 28/17

Some of the class will be working on literacy test this period while the rest will be working with me on typing their opinion paragraphs. Please see below for Opinion Piece Literacy Test Prep:

This is what your instructions will look like on the literacy test for this task (although the topic will be different):

Writing a Series of Paragraphs

Task: Write a series of paragraphs (a minimum of three) expressing an opinion on the topic below. Develop your main idea with supporting details (proofs, facts, examples, etc.).

Purpose and Audience: an adult who is interested in your opinion.

Length:  The lined space provided for your written work indicates the length of the writing expected.

Topic:  Should smoking be allowed in public places?

Tips for Writing an Opinion Piece

  • Read the question and decide what position to take in the written response.
  • Brainstorm for both “yes” and “no” before deciding which stance you will take in your response. Choose the side with the most effective supporting ideas and examples.
  • Make sure that you take only one stance in your opinion piece. Do NOT be neutral in your response.
  • Your stance must be stated clearly at the beginning and repeated at end of the opinion essay. Reword the question into a statement. For example, if the question is “Should students take gym throughout high school?” the response should start and end with “Students should take gym throughout high school” or “Students should not take gym throughout high school”.
  • Your opinion piece must support the stance with reasons, examples, or facts.
  • Your essay should contain five paragraphs: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • Make sure the divisions between paragraphs are clear (e.g. skip a line between paragraphs or indent).
  • Additional paragraphs may be added as long as the response is no more than 2 pages.
  • The response may be written using first person pronouns (i.e. “I”, “me”, “my”, etc.).
  • Use clear topic sentences to start each paragraph.
  • Use concluding sentences that restate topic and wrap up the idea to end each paragraph
  • Use transitional words (e.g. also, secondly, finally) to link your ideas
  • Include a clinching sentences that makes an general observation about the topic in your conclusion.
  • Be sure to write in complete sentences and in formal English.
  • Two pages will be provided for the response. Write as close to two pages as possible.

You are going to be provided with a sample opinion piece and asked to do things like “identify the topic sentence.”

Then your teacher will take you through the scoring guide that will be used to mark your opinion piece.

Finally, you will write an outline for an opinion piece on the following topic:  “Is participation in extracurricular activities and important part of secondary school life?”


I want you to put your outlines in your portfolio because you will have the option of using this as one of your opinion pieces that you will have to hand in to me. (in other words, it’s for marks)

Thursday March 23/17

Depending on the audience and purpose for your opinion piece, some methods of proof might be stronger than others. Let’s first review the methods of proof you learned about in the previous activity:

  • Historical reference: events from the past that support an idea;
  • Comparison;
  • Personal observation;
  • Logic and reason;
  • Quotations: must be knowledgeable source and relevant;
  • Authoritative reference: experts on the topic, must be recognized;
  • Facts: research, generally accepted truths, statistics;
  • Anecdotes: brief stories, incidents;
  • Analogy: comparison of similar concept that explains a more difficult idea;
  • Emotional appeal (must be used only to create a sympathetic reader: cannot be excessive).


Audience: Who are your writing this for? If you are trying to persuade someone who doesn’t know much about the topic, then it might make sense to provide an analogy to help make the information easier to understand. If, on the other hand, your audience already knows something about the topic, then facts might be better, or perhaps a personal observation or anecdote.

Purpose: Are you writing to simply express an opinion? If so, then logic and reason might be effective, but if you’re trying to persuade someone to agree with you, then you might better luck using a bit of emotional appeal.

Content: What is your opinion about? If you’re expressing an opinion about a topic that is very emotionally charged, then you have to be careful about the language you use and choices you make. If you upset or offend someone, they’re not as likely to listen to you.





Assignment 2: Writing an Opinion Paragraph

Paragraphs are the building blocks for most written texts. They help a writer organize and sort ideas, and they make it easier for a reader to read a text because the paragraphs break up ideas into more manageable pieces. In most cases a paragraph consists of a topic sentence, supporting details, and a concluding sentence (however, in news articles and fiction, paragraphs may sometimes be only one sentence long).

Based on the readings in this activity, decide which argument you found more convincing: do cell phones and mobile technology hurt relationships, or bring us closer together?

Write a paragraph supporting your opinion (you must take a side—don’t argue both sides). Use at least three methods of proof to support your answer, but make sure they are the strongest methods of support given your audience and purpose. Your audience will be a group of senior citizens, some of whom may use computers, but most of whom do not use mobile technology. Your purpose is to persuade them to agree with you.

Make sure you include:

  • a topic sentence that makes my opinion clear to the reader;
  • at least three supporting details, using at least three different methods of support;
  • a quotation from one of the articles in this activity as a method of support;
  • an in-text citation in my paragraph using the format provided in this activity;
  • a full citation at the end of the paragraph;
  • complete sentences;
  • correct spelling and punctuation;
  • a concluding sentence.


Wednesday March 22/17

When developing and supporting an opinion, it’s helpful to consider both sides of an issue. That way, you develop an informed opinion and can anticipate counter arguments which will strengthen your position. In this activity you will read two articles expressing opposing viewpoints on a topic. Then you will consider where you stand on the issue.

Four Corners

Consider the following statement:

Cell phones and other mobile devices have a damaging effect on our relationships with each other.

How much do you agree or disagree with this statement? Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree? When you are told to move, go to the corner that represents your opinion. Share your answer with your classmates and be sure to provide at least one reason.

Did your answer change based on reading some of our classmates’ responses? Or did you get additional ideas to support your own answer?

Keep all the points you read in the discussion in mind as you read the following two articles:

Point: Mobile Devices Can Harm Personal Relationships

Frequent reliance on mobile devices for all social interaction can result in anxiety. Many digital technologies were advertised as tools to improve work-life balance by freeing up time for more personal interaction. In practice, many mobile device owners have less time and are glued to their screens for fear of missing an important message or comment on social media. This can result in anxiety, according to Randi Zuckerberg, Dot Complicated editor-in-chief and former Facebook employee. Valerie Steeves’s 2014 Life Online report found that 39 per cent of Canadian students sleep with their cell phones in case they get messages at night, which has the potential to disrupt sleep patterns. Many users feel pressure about how they are portraying themselves on social networking sites, adding another level of stress, according to research compiled by Robin Marantz Henig in Newsweek.

Constantly checking mobile devices distracts users from reality. Using mobile devices while driving has raised safety concerns about distracted driving, and all Canadian provinces and territories (except for Nunavut) have made it illegal to hold mobile devices to communicate while driving. The use of mobile devices at formal events, as speaker Kevin Newman did following his 2010 University of Western Ontario commencement address, or in public can be a breach of social etiquette that is rude and disrespectful of others. According to Pamela Eyeing, president of the Protocol School of Washington, as reported by Anne Kingston and Alex Ballingall for Maclean’s, obsessive mobile device use is an addiction, causing users to act selfishly. Such behaviour bothers others, leading many establishments to take steps to prevent cell phone use.

Along these lines, mobile devices are isolating users from face-to-face communication and personal relationships. According to technology and media scholar Douglas Rushkoff, it is common for teenagers to engage their online friends and ignore real life around them. Human communication is very complex. Intangible aspects such as a person’s tone, volume, eye contact, and facial expressions can be critical to understanding. Online messaging omits these elements. Mobile devices make it easy to choose texting over talking. This can foster social isolation and loneliness because interpersonal interactions are sacrificed for online connections. Users are so busy communicating online that they are forgetting about their real-world personal relationships.



Counterpoint: Mobile Devices Keep Us All Connected

Mobile devices provide users with access to a wide range of educational opportunities. Information can be accessed anytime and anywhere in the world with a mobile device. Canadian classrooms are integrating mobile technology through interactive activities, whiteboards, blogs, and web quests. The Peel District School Board in Ontario has instituted a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy to encourage students to bring their own mobile devices to class to enhance their learning. Mobile devices can even reach into space. While Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was the commander of the International Space Station from December 2012 to May 2013, he had 950,000 followers on the social media site Twitter and created a YouTube video that had twenty-two million views, introducing many Canadian students to space science on their mobile devices.

Increased community engagement is one way that mobile devices are changing social interaction. On November 3, 2014, high school students from across Canada joined together to launch Media Literacy Week and to learn how to use social media to promote volunteerism, advocate for global change, and build networks to support mental health. Throughout the world, people use their mobile devices to connect with peers who share their interests on a variety of topics, including online gaming, video editing, and writing, fostering friendship and collaboration. Widespread mobile social media use also provides a place to share common feelings, as evidenced by the Twitter feed from Canadian politician Jack Layton’s funeral that brought Canadians together in their grief.

Personal relationships are reinforced by online communication through mobile devices. In the physical world where economics and geography often limit travel opportunities, mobile devices empower their users to communicate with their friends and family quickly, easily, and over great distances. Sharing photographs, videos, blogs, and instant feedback from social networking websites strengthens friendships and family ties and illustrates the power of connectivity. Mobile devices allow users to connect no matter where they are.

Assignment 1: Examining Both Sides

Re-read both articles and this time identify the main idea and three supporting details for each article. Use the following organizer to record your ideas: Examining both sides of an issue



Monday March 20/17

Welcome back! We’ll start with some silent reading today and then continue looking at opinion pieces.

You’ve been working on reading opinion pieces and identifying the main idea and supporting details. You should have two Fishbone graphic organizers filled out (we did one on Homer Simpson, and one based on an article from the book “Don’t Label Me”). If you are not finished that, that’s what you should be working on.

If you are finished, you’re ready to move on to the following:

This unit is all about developing and supporting an opinion. There are different methods you can use to support your opinion and make your opinion, but some are stronger than others depending on your audience and purpose. Here are some methods of proof that people use when trying to support an opinion:

Methods of Proof

  • Historical reference: events from the past that support an idea;
  • Comparison;
  • Personal observation;
  • Logic and reason;
  • Quotations: must be knowledgeable source and relevant;
  • Authoritative reference: experts on the topic, must be recognized;
  • Facts: research, generally accepted truths, statistics;
  • Anecdotes: brief stories, incidents;
  • Analogy: comparison of similar concept that explains a more difficult idea;
  • Emotional appeal (must be used only to create a sympathetic reader: cannot be excessive).

The following text combines a graphic text with a non-fiction text. When you’re reading the written part of the text, determine what proofs the author is using.

Graphics like bar charts are used with written text because they can help clarify the main idea of the writing. They also condense a large amount of information into a small space. Charts can be tricky to read though, because we’re used to reading from left to right and top to bottom. Charts don’t always work that way. When you’re reading the chart, orient yourself to the chart by looking for the way the information is labeled. What information do you get when you read from left to right? What information do you get when you read from bottom to top?

Finally, think about how the chart and the writing support each other when it comes to communicating the author’s main idea.


Before reading, think about what you already learned about access to education in the previous activity.


Required Reading

Despite Progress – Millions Without Access to Education

by Felix Richter

Jan 30, 2015

Despite significant progress that has been made over the past decade, millions of children around the world are still without access to proper education. In 2012, more than 120 million children of primary school or lower secondary school age were not enrolled in school, according to a recent report published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. The problem is most severe in Sub-Saharan Africa where more than 50 million children don’t go to school. Providing children in less developed regions with access to basic education should be a top priority for the international community, as education is almost universally regarded as the most reliable pathway out of poverty.


This chart shows how many children still have no access to education in different parts of the world.
Infographic: Despite Progress - Millions Without Access to Education | Statista

Richter, Felix. “Infographic: Despite Progress – Millions Without Access to Education.” Statista Infographics. 30 Jan. 2015. Web. 07 May 2016.

Reading Log

Don’t forget to log your reading. Log the reading you do during lessons like this one and for reading you do independently.

Opinion Pieces and Methods of Proof


Thursday March 9/17

We are back in our regular room today.

We’ll start with some silent reading time and those of you who need to renew/find a new book will be allowed to go the library in small groups.

Then we will be focusing on the opinion piece which some of you started yesterday.

I will read an opinion piece out loud and point out the features of an opinion piece and as a class we’ll identify the main idea and supporting details.

Then you will read an opinion piece and identify the main idea and supporting details using this graphic organizer: fishbone

Wednesday March 8/17

We will start today by ensuring you have the checklist for the news report glued into your portfolio.

  • Headline
  • byline
  • dateline
  • lead that provides information about as many of the 5Ws + H as possible in a sentence or two
  • write in third person (no “I” unless it’s part of a quotation)
  • facts not opinions—unless you are including an opinion as part of a quotation from someone you are “interviewing”
  • at least one quotation from a witness
  • short paragraphs that provide additional details about the 5Ws + H: one-sentence paragraphs are acceptable in news reports
  • paragraphs are organized from most important information to least important information

Then we will go back to 207 for your last chance to hand in late work.

Those of you caught up, please see yesterday’s blog post. If you’re done that I have a handout for you on opinion pieces.