Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Opinion Writing in Second Grade ~ The Four Seasons PowerPoint Project

My second graders and I have had so much fun writing about the four seasons with our opinion writing project!

Last year, I was based partially in the computer lab and partially in another classroom. This year I'm lucky to be in the computer lab full time! I've had to make some adjustments to my writing units to make them mostly technology based.

The Four Seasons ~ Opinion Paragraph Writing

My school has a subscription to PebbleGo, a WONDERFUL research database for primary grades.

My second graders and I worked together to learn about summer on the PebbleGo website. Then I had students continue to research the other seasons on their own. (CCSS W.2.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects)

I think brainstorming activities are really important to help generate ideas. I like to have my students do a small group Fan-N-Pick activity after our research.

After the research and Fan-N-Pick, my students were ready to brainstorm reasons why they like each season. I typed their responses into a four seasons web that projected on my screen:

Throughout the project, I left the brainstorming web up for students to refer to.

Next, I introduced the prewriting graphic organizer. We brainstormed a lot of opinion statement options to use for out topic sentences and conclusions. I posted the opinion statements for students to refer to throughout the unit.

I had students choose their favorite season and write a prewriting graphic organizer. I find that by having students use the organizers, their paragraphs are very...organized! If they use them often enough, they get into the habit of starting with a topic sentence, writing detail sentences, and ending with a conclusion.

After completing the first organizer, I had my students begin typing/drafting their first paragraph in PowerPoint. With second graders, I prefer to create the basic PowerPoint structure and copy/paste it into each student's computer folder. With older students, I will create a template and have them save it into their folders themselves.

I model using the organizer as a guide and adding extra details and transitions/linking words as I draft my first paragraph. I added Post-it arrows to my anchor chart to remind students of some transitions/linking words they could use.

Now for the fun! My students just love adding clip art to their PowerPoint!

Once they have their first season drafted with a picture, they can move on to their next season by filling out an organizer, drafting, getting a picture, and so on. I remind my students to use the resources in the room as they work (the brainstorming web, the opinion statement list, the transitions/linking words chart).

Throughout the unit, I teach mini-lessons on revising and editing. For revising, I show an example of a paragraph without many details and solicit ideas from students. I really focus on adding details to explain more. I'm always so impressed with the suggestions my students give for improving the paragraph. 

We do a lot of editing as we go. I love drafting on PowerPoint or Word because students get immediate feedback for many of their mistakes. Those red and green lines drive my students crazy! I always require that they carefully read over their work after revising because there are many mistakes that don't show a red or green line. I also put up an editing example and have them help me correct it.

Finally, it's time for publishing! For this project, we added transitions as our final publishing step to get our projects ready to share. Most of my second graders hadn't seen transitions before, and they were so excited! 

To culminate the unit, we have a sharing and feedback activity. I have feedback cards and pencils at each computer. Students write one thing they liked when reading another student's PowerPoint and one question they have on the feedback cards. I start by showing my PowerPoint example and helping students think of appropriate comments and questions. 

Next, I randomly assign students to different computers to view another student's PowerPoint and fill out a comment/question feedback card. When done, students line up and I send them to an open computer to view and respond to a different student's PowerPoint. We do this for several rounds. My students can't wait to read their feedback cards!

I print the PowerPoints with two slides per page to save paper. It makes it easier for me to grade my students' written work and they also like to have a paper copy to keep.

Here are some finished projects:

These PowerPoint projects are perfect for students to share at my school's Art & Academic Fair. The second graders love showing off their work, and the parents are always impressed!

This was such a fun project for my second graders. They've shown so much growth in writing, computer skills, and in taking responsibility for their own learning. I'm so proud of my students!

I've adapted this project to use in the computer lab from my Four Season Opinion Writing in my TPT store. Check it out HERE!


  1. Love this project! The student writing looks fantastic and hits so many standards! I can't wait to share this on my Facebook page!!
    Mandy's Tips for Teachers

    1. Thank you so much, Mandy! My students loved this project. They're getting so proficient with using the computer! I'm so glad you think your followers will find it helpful. I'll look you up and follow your FB page. :-)