Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: It May Not Be Legal, But They Understand Audience #SOL19 #TWTBlog
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Slice of Life: It May Not Be Legal, But They Understand Audience #SOL19 #TWTBlog

I listen to the students as they turn and talk about the reviews they are writing.  I don’t quite know what I am listening for, but I know I will know it when I hear it.  The demonstration lesson is focused on audience and counterargument in opinion writing.  These are first graders.  I am listening for a lifeline.  Bingo – got it!

Writers, I was listening to all of you talk. You have some great topics.  Now that you know what you are reviewing and your opinion on it, you have to consider your audience.  Who are you trying to convince?  What if they don’t agree with you?  This is something opinion writers always consider.

Their eyes are with me, but I am pretty sure they have no idea what I am talking about.  I warned the teachers that they may not get it completely this year.  I explained the importance of letting kids give it a go this year so that next year it will be a more familiar concept.  I assured them this lesson would be messy!

Can I try to show you what I mean by considering audience as an opinion writer?

A sea of heads nod.

So, Adam, I heard you are writing a review of Chuck E. Cheese.

His face beams and he sits up a little straighter.

Can we use your review to show what I mean?

He is front and center before I even ask him.

Ok.  So, I am assuming you are giving it a good review.

Yes.  I LOVE Chuck E. Cheese.

What do you love about it?

There are great games.  It is safe because they put an invisible mark on your hand and you can’t get out without your parents.  There is a maze and a ball pit, so you get exercise.  Oh, and the pizza is the best.

That’s a lot of reasons.  Who is your audience? Who are you trying to get to agree with you about Chuck E. Cheese?

His silence lets me know audience was not a consideration.  I look at the class.

If you are Adam’s audience, do you agree with his reasons?  Would this review convince you to go to Chuck E. Cheese?  Turn and talk it out with your partner.

Clearly, this a group that frequents Chuck E. Cheese.  They are sold!

Now, what if Adam was trying to convince me or your parents to go to Chuck E. Cheese?  Would this convince them?

One student calls out.

No way, my mom hates Chuck E. Cheese!

There is a flutter of conversation bubbling up in response.

Sounds like you have some ideas on convincing this audience, your parents, about going to Chuck E. Cheese.  What reasons would you add or change to convince them?  Turn and talk it out again.

Ok.  Who has some revisions to make this review even more convincing?

I think we could add to the safety part.  Since it is safe, parents can sit and talk to their friends.  They don’t have to watch us.

They also have salads and other stuff.  We can add that in case they don’t like pizza.

Yeah, and we can add wine to the pizza section too.

That’s not true.  They don’t sell wine.  That’s why my mom doesn’t like it.

I agree.  My mom says the same thing.  They don’t sell wine.

Conversation starts to bubble again, but I decide to stay in control of this one.  It has been some time since I have gone to Chuck E. Cheese so I honestly have no idea if they sell wine.  I look up and there are several teachers in the group sending me signals to save me.  Based on the gestures Chuck E. Cheese does not sell wine.  I try to rein the group back to one conversation.

So, writers you are now considering audience in this review.  You added reasons that would convince a specific audience, your parents, and you knew just where to add it.  When you go reread your reviews today, think about convincing a specific audience and what reasons you would change or add?

I am about to send them off …

I want to go back to the wine.

They don’t sell wine.

He is about to get taken over again, but he stands up for himself.

I never said they sold wine.  I said we could add it to the pizza section to show them when they can drink the wine.

Now I’m confused.

My mom and her friends don’t buy it there, they bring it in their Swell bottles.

Silence.  His classmates are looking at him as if he is the most brilliant opinion writer of all time.

We should definitely add that to the review. 

I’m telling my mom when I get home.  That is a great idea.

My mom has one of those bottles too.

I am trying so hard to contain my laughter.  I manage a quick, “Off you go” before I burst.

Who says six-year-olds are too young to understand counterargument?   Based on my memory, a Swell bottle would have made it a better experience.  Now it may not be legal … but that has to be a third grade standard for sure!


Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers, and teachers here.

  • Avatar
    Karen Szymusiak
    Posted at 13:50h, 29 March Reply

    Ha! I’m going to Chuck E. Cheese with my grandkids today. Forgot my Swell bottle!

  • Avatar
    Rose Cappelli
    Posted at 14:49h, 29 March Reply

    This is such a priceless post, Clare, for many reasons. Clearly, Chuck E. Cheese should step up their game – even first graders know that! And yes, I agree that they understand a lot about opinion writing. Nice job!

  • Avatar
    Diane Dougherty
    Posted at 15:06h, 29 March Reply

    I love messy lessons–everybody learns something. I certainly did from “listening in” with you. I had a good laugh too.
    Chuck E Cheese would be a hard sell for a grandma, though.

  • Avatar
    Posted at 15:18h, 29 March Reply

    It’s amazing to me when adults don’t seem to “get” that kids know a heck of lot more than they expect! I love this story and agree with the first graders – moms probably would have more fun if they served wine!

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    Posted at 17:27h, 29 March Reply

    I have never been to Chuck E Cheese. Maybe this argument will get me there. Love the ideas our kiddos share!!!!

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    Jessica Carey
    Posted at 00:01h, 30 March Reply

    Oh my goodness! You cannot make this stuff up!!! Great account of this moment.

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    Mandy Robek
    Posted at 00:41h, 30 March Reply

    Too funny! Kids are very observant and creative.

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    Posted at 01:11h, 30 March Reply

    Oh wow, this post had me laughing out loud. You revealed it perfectly. Wine would have made that place a little better– I always dreaded going there.

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    Posted at 01:13h, 30 March Reply

    Wow, this is a funny post on so many levels. You revealed it perfectly, bringing us right into that lesson. Loved that. And yes, wine would have made that place a little more tolerable. I always dreaded going there.

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    Posted at 01:45h, 30 March Reply

    I love the turn your post took (such a classic teaching moment isn’t it?!). Thanks for sharing such a great laugh!

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    Susan M Kennedy
    Posted at 11:32h, 30 March Reply

    We hear so much. I think these kiddos have opinion writing all set.

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    Susan M Kennedy
    Posted at 11:33h, 30 March Reply

    Those kiddos will just tell us anything! I think these friends have opinion all set.

  • Avatar
    Paula Bourque
    Posted at 02:46h, 31 March Reply

    Ermehgerd, toooo funny! Wish I’d have had a Swell bottle when my kids begged us to go! Love your matter-of-fact responses to craft that counter argument!! LOL

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