Opinion Writing: Using NewsELA to Write Opinion Pieces


Do your students write opinion pieces that don’t include supporting evidence? My students did at first, so I knew I needed a great mini-lesson on writing opinion pieces. In this post, I’ll walk you through using NewsELA, which is a free website, and a quick organizer, to help my students gather information for their opinion pieces.

Common Core Standards addressed: RI.1, RI.8, RI.10, W.1

I love Google Docs. I use them to create assignments to share with my students. It’s quick and easy for them to access these docs (I e-mail them a link, or use a link shortener and write the link on the board). For this lesson, I shared a simple Pro/Con table like this one.

Don’t have devices for each student? Make this a center activity, or print an article from NewsELA for free!

We’ve been writing opinion paragraphs during our Reading block to get us ready for the formal opinion essay we have coming up during our Writing block. Because I’m teaching RI.8, which addresses how authors provide evidence and reasons to support their claims in informational text, this was a perfect opportunity to practice multiple standards in one shot.

The Process

We all logged into NewsELA, so an awesome section I found where you can bring up every PRO/CON article. To find this section, either enter “PRO/CON” into the search box, or use this direct link: https://newsela.com/?needle=PRO%2FCON

A screenshot of examples of free pro/con articles you can get when using NewsELA

I chose one of the articles and modeled what I wanted students to do, while they did the same on their computers. One of the great things about NewsELA is that you can highlight the text. First we identified the question, which was easy because it was at the top of the article.

Next, we read through the text and highlighted all of the good reasons and evidence for Yes (Pro) green and No (Con) red. We then copy & pasted the information into the correct column of our Google Doc. We added quotes around this text and a sentence starter so that we were correctly quoting the text instead of just copying (plagiarizing).

A screenshot of how you can highlight text in different colors when using NewsELA

Lastly, we used the information we gathered to formulate an opinion. We wrote a claim that answered the question and gave our opinion, explained in our own words, and used 2-3 pieces of text-based evidence from the article to support our claim. The following samples are from 5th grade students:

A screenshot of a student work sample of opinion writing using NewsELA

A screenshot of a student work sample of opinion writing using NewsELA

A screenshot of a student work sample of opinion writing using NewsELA
They’re still getting the hang of quoting text, but they’ve gotten much better since the beginning of the year! At the end of the lesson, I have my students share their Google Doc link with me on Edmodo for easy grading. Technology is AMAZING!
I can’t wait to get to our formal opinion essays next week! I feel like my students are super prepared and excited to do research and formulate an opinion thanks to their work using NewsELA!

Easy Prep Writing Resources

A cover graphic for a bundle of upper elementary writing resources A cover graphic for a bundle of Common Core-aligned writing prompts


April Smith

Curriculum Writer and Online Professional Development Coach. 


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