As I begin to wrap up Tuesdays with Morrie in my English 10 classes, I wanted to give students the opportunity to form an opinion. Some of my students love the book. Some don’t. I wanted to get them working on opinion-based narrative writing, dip into persuasive writing, and most importantly, make arguments and back them up with support!
As a reflective activity after reading “Audiovisual Three” in the book and watching the third interview from the “Nightline” show with Ted Koppel, I had the students think about whether they thought the “Nightline” interviews were positive or negative.
I sent them home with that question for homework. The following day, as a bell-ringer activity, I asked them to describe Morrie as he was in the final interview–What did he look like? How had he changed? Where was the interview filmed?
To transition, I asked the students to remember the question from yesterday and make a decision. If they thought the “Nightline” interview was positive, they stood on the right side of the classroom. If they believed it was negative, they moved to the left.
The class divided accordingly, and I split larger groups into smaller sub-groups to manage easier. I asked each group, in their notes, to make a chart and to start listing reasons why they believed a certain way. I moved back and forth from the groups, asking them for examples and text/movie support to help back up their sides.
After a few minutes, we opened to large group and began debating/listing arguments for each side. I pushed the students to get text support for their ideas, and to really think deeply about their side and the other side–Why might someone feel a certain why? Why might they feel the same or the opposite way?
Here’s our classroom board:
After debating/discussing as a class, with the class taking their own notes, I explained their journal assignment, which would be a one-page, single-spaced paper over their opinion. They would need to start with the line, “I believe the “Nightline” interview is…” and would need 4 reasons as well as 4 text/movie supports.
With about 15 minutes left in class, I had them start working! The assignment would be due the following morning.
I thought this was a great way to shift between narrative and persuasive writing. My goal was to have the students create an argument and back that argument with support. This would not only assist in moving towards research-based writing and argumentative writing, but would also help the students to form opinions and connect in deeper ways with the text! The “Nightline” interview, and their opinions on it, also reached out to a bigger, more global issue–is putting someone with a terminal illness right or wrong? I wanted the students to decide for themselves. Plus, I had some students I knew wanted to express their feelings about the book–here was their chance! 🙂
**Click here to download the Journal Assignment Sheet!