Can your students influence the Punxsutawney Phil to see or not see his shadow? This differentiated Groundhog Day writing prompt inspires third, fourth, and fifth grade students to create effective persuasive pieces. Specially designed student sheets help them organize, choose specific words, elaborate, vary sentences, and employ transitional terms. Watch as their opinion paragraphs move from rudimentary to remarkable!
After reading a short informational text about the legend and the animal, students decide whether they want six more weeks of winter or an early spring. They develop three strong reasons, pen strong beginnings and endings, consider word choice, elaborate, and add linking words.
Created by master teacher Brenda Kovich
, this activity is classroom tested and kid approved.
Click on Preview above to take a peek at all of these materials!
• A Note to the Teacher
• Lesson Plans (2 pages)
• Writing a Persuasive Paragraph poster/anchor chart
• Opener - Groundhog Day informational text
• Scaffolding and Differentiation (3 pages of guidance)
• Modeling Sheets (6 pages)
• Rubrics (one for each level – basic, emerging, and detailed)
(20 pages - available as printable or paperless Google files*)
• My Opinion – guidance in determining opinion, writing a topic sentence, and writing a call to action
• My Reasons – brainstorming + three selected reasons
• My Organizer – basic and detailed versions
• My Hook – making a simple request, asking a question, setting the stage, using onomatopoeia, and other
• My Wrap-Up – matching the beginning by restating the request, answering the question, exiting the stage, using onomatopoeia, and other
• Groundhog Day WOW Words – themed list to help with word choice
• Elaborating with Examples – considering examples for each reason
• Elaborating with Details – bolstering sentences with active verbs, sensory details, specific nouns, and descriptive words
• Elaborating with Lists – packing sentences with lists of actions
• Varying Sentence Beginnings – replacing first word with synonym, adding a describing word, telling how/when/where, comparing with a simile, beginning with an –ing word
• Varying Sentence Types – experimenting with questions, commands, and exclamations
• Editing Checklists (one for each level – basic, emerging, and detailed)
• Groundhog Day Stationery – groundhog holding paper in teeth or groundhog in background
*Three links are provided – one for each level (basic, emerging, detailed). Simply share the appropriate link(s). Students click to create a copy of the file. They can then type directly into the file (and share it with you.) It’s perfect for Google Classroom and/or students who use Chromebooks.
Session 1: Opening, Generating Opinion & Reasons – Read the information sheet on Groundhog Day. Ask, “Who wants Phil to see his shadow?” Explain that persuasive writing can sometimes be used to get what you want. Go over structures and strategies with Writing a Persuasive Paragraph. Have students choose a position, generate topic sentences, and write calls to action with My Opinion. Then ask them to brainstorm and narrow reasons with My Reasons.
Session 2: Organizing – Model hooks and wrap-ups. Remind students that all parts of the paragraph should fit together well. Ask students to organize their opinions, reasons, and calls to action. Level 2 students also work on hooks. Level 3 students develop a cohesive plan with related hooks and wrap-ups for an overarching slant, or theme.
Session 3: Drafting - The teacher models processes for varying sentence beginnings. He or she explains that shaking up sentence types also improves voice. (For advanced students, the teacher may also discuss how long sentences explain and short sentences punctuate.) The class explores how transitions may be used to link ideas. Level 1 students adjust sentence beginnings so each begins differently. Level 2 and 3 students work on varying sentence beginnings and types, as well as using transition terms.
Session 4: Elaborating - Model processes for elaboration. Level 1 students add one or more examples. Level 2 students add details and examples to their reasons. Level 3 students add details, examples, and lists to bolster sentences.
Session 5: Revising - Model processes for varying sentence beginnings. Explain that shaking up sentence types also improves voice. The class explores how transitions may be used to link ideas. Level 1 students adjust sentence beginnings so each begins differently. Level 2 and 3 students work on varying sentence beginnings and types, as well as using transition terms.
Session 6: Editing and Publishing - Students use leveled checklists to edit and publish their paragraphs.
Are you looking for more materials to help your students write persuasive paragraphs? Try my circus-themed video, anchor charts, modeling and student sheets
Kids need lots of practice to perfect their writing. I’m creating seasonal persuasive writing activities – one for each month! Click on Follow Me to be notified as they’re published.
• January Persuasive Paragraph - Snow Day! Winter Writing Activity
• March Persuasive Paragraph - St. Patrick's Day Writing Activity
• April Persuasive Paragraph - National Book Month Writing Activity
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I’m committed to continual improvement. This resource was updated on December 31, 2017.
Clip art was created by Educlips