Opinion Writing Continuum K – 12

puzzle piecesLet’s take a look at the continuum of skills as they are developed in the Common Core opinion writing.  These skills are all from W1 across the grades.


Students use drawing, dictating and writing to form a simple opinion such as, “I like this book because….”

1st Grade
Students introduce a book or topic, form an opinion and provide a reason for the opinion. Then some sense of closure is expected.

2nd Grade
Now students are expected to provide at least two reasons using linking words such as: because, and, also…

3rd Grade
Skills are now extended even more.  3rd graders must now have some sort of organizational structure (paragraph), multiple reasons, and linking words and phrases to connect the opinion and their reasons. The writing must now end with a concluding statement not just a sense of closure.

4th Grade
Everything from 3rd grade is expected and expanded.  Related ideas must now be grouped into the organizational structure.  Reasons are now supported by facts and details and must support the writer’s purpose.

5th Grade
Everything from 4th grade is once again expected and then expanded.  Now, the ideas must be logically grouped within the structure.

6th Grade
Now the writing shifts from forming and supporting an opinion to writing arguments to support a claim.  Reasons must be clear and relevant using credible sources. and must show they understand the topic. Clauses are used to link and clarify the relationships between claim and reasons.

7th Grade
Students in 7th grade are now expected to acknowledge alternate or opposing claims and organize the reasons and evidence logically.

8th Grade
Students now not only acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, they must also distinguish them from each other.

9th and 10th Grades
Students must develop claims, alternate, opposing, and counterclaims fairly using evidence that points out the strengths and weakness of each. The evidence must be presented in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.

11th and 12th Grades
Arguments must now be precise, knowledgeable and significant.  They are fairly and thoroughly developed and anticipate the audience’s knowledge level concerns, values, and possible biases.

Hopefully, this helps you to understand the continuous growth expected from Kindergarten to 12th grade in learning to write opinions and arguments!   The words in bold are the added skills.


About Lucy Salerno

I have been a resident of Fairfield for over 25 years and have 30 years’ teaching experience in California K – 6 schools. I have been a music teacher, band and choral director, elementary teacher in grades K – 6, a district level technology coordinator teaching, and an elementary school administrator. In 2011, my most recent school, Scandia Elementary, on Travis Air Force Base, was awarded the California Distinguished School Award for work and programs implemented under my watch. Because of my broad educational background, I know and understand what is needed in today's difficult educational environment. I have taught writing to children in numerous grades as a core subject as well as integrating writing into other curricula areas. I retired a few years ago from the Travis Unified School District, I love working with children, and am now dedicating my services and skills in support of your children. Through love and patience, I hope to understand a child's needs, meet them where they are, build self-confidence and develop a life-long love of learning.
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