Instructional Routines & Practices Instructional Routines & Practices





This acronym stands for Opinion Reason Evidence Opinion. It also references a familiar sandwich cookie, which reinforces the opinion framework that sandwiches supporting reasons between an opening opinion statement and concluding opinion statement. Students can use this routine to develop their ideas for opinion writing of many kinds. Use the organizer below as a guide for teaching and implementing OREO instruction. Note that grade K does not require students to provide evidence, so students would write their opinion, reasons, and restate their opinion. Grade 5 requires students to elaborate on their evidence, so students would write their opinion, reasons, evidence for each reason, elaboration for their evidence, and their opinion.

OREO Table



Write an opinion or something you think.



Provide a reason to convince a reader to agree with your opinion.



Provide evidence (facts and details) to support your reason.



Elaborate on your evidence.



Provide a reason to convince a reader to agree with your opinion.



Provide evidence (facts and details) to support your reason.



Elaborate on your evidence.



Write your opinion again



  1. Explain that the “Painted Essay” is a model developed by the Vermont Writing Collaborative. It gives writers a way to see clearly how writers organize essays. Share an informational or argumentative essay. Model how to “paint” or highlight the first paragraph, and then lead students in marking the rest of an essay. Tell students you will use the following colors to mark the essay:
    • Red = Introduction/conclusions
    • Yellow = Point #1
    • Blue = Point #2
    • Green = Thesis/thesis restated (opinion for an argumentative essay)
  2. If your students have not yet been introduced to the concept of a thesis statement, briefly explain what this sentence is and how it is different from a topic statement. Say: The thesis statement is the sentence that makes a statement about the whole essay. In an opinion essay, this would be the opinion or claim. It’s the main idea that the writer will develop and prove throughout the essay.
  3. Next, model how to highlight the essay’s introduction.


Sentence frames help language learners to construct more complex sentences than they can create independently. However, sentence frames should not be allowed to become a crutch and should be used as a beginning scaffold only. It’s also important to be sure language learners understand the syntax of the frame, as English syntax may vary sharply from that in a student’s first language.

How to Use This Routine

Construct a sentence frame for a prompt or exit ticket, leaving blanks for key words that allow students to show their learning. Model how to use the sentence frame before giving it to students, asking them to determine the kind of a word required by each blank.


  • Q: How does the circulatory system work? Sentence Frame: The circulatory system works by ____________________.
  • For referencing text evidence: According to _________[title] by _________ [author} on p #, “_______________.”


English learners benefit from talking before expressing ideas in writing. Talking helps them develop and organize ideas, get comfortable with new vocabulary, and practice sentence structure and appropriate syntax.

How to Use This Routine

  • Direct Students to express their answers verbally before responding to an exit ticket or writing prompt.
  • Monitor and guide the discussion.
  • Variations:
    • Use These Words: Direct students to use specific words in a word bank or word wall. The Topic-Specific Vocabulary identified in the Module Overviews is a good source for such word lists.
    • Sentence Frames: Provide a sentence starter or frme for the discussion. These should always be modeled, as English learners can struggle with understanding the syntax presumed by a sentence frame.


Have students take turns reading or sharing their work with the class. Invite or prompt them to identify particular aspects that reflect their writing choices.


When students receive feedback, whether from you or classmates, they need to transform it into a series of actions. This process begins with specific, actionable, and achievable goals for which students can strive. Use this routine to support students in setting goals.

  • Have students craft goals immediately after receiving feedback (from teachers and/or peers).
  • These goals can apply to the same assignment, e.g., a writing task, or you can generalize them to a future assignment. Teachers should make students store goals for regular access, such as in students’ writing folders, and students should revisit them before resuming the pertinent task or applying to a generalized task.
  • Provide models of helpful (specific, actionable, and achievable) goals. Each goal statement should clearly explain what the student will do to improve writing. Share exemplar and non-exemplar goals with students:

Goal Setting Table



  • I will write sentences that start with different words

  • I will reread the prompt and check off each part as I write.

  • I will label my drawings

  • I will use the word wall when I write


  • I will try harder

  • I will work on sentences


  • I will make sure my evidence matches my reasons.

  • I will write sentences that start with different kinds of words (not all “the” and “and”).

  • I will reread the prompt and check off each part as I write.

  • I will use specific vocabulary from my word bank. I won’t use general words like “stuff.”

  • I will write all my paragraphs using TEEE



  • I will get a 3 on the rubric

  • I will try harder

  • I will work on sentences

  • I will challenge myself

  • Provide a template or sentence frames to capture the goals.
  • Conference with students to support and monitor progress on goal-setting, such as during independent writing.
  • Keep student goals visible as students work to implement feedback, such as during independent writing revision.


Use this instruction to support students in becoming effective peer reviewers and sharing effective feedback of all kinds.


Direct instruction

  1. Explain that students will review each other’s work just like you review their work. Peer review is a very important job. Say: How we talk about each other’s work really matterswe can be helpful, or we can be hurtful. Feedback can be a Star or a Step (positive or critical feedback) if it is specific, useful, and respectful.
  2. Explain that you try to model this constructive feedback with your feedback every day. Now you will share that process and then students will practice it.
  3. Post an anchor chart with the 3 feedback rules:

3 Feedback Rules Anchor Chart

Be specificBe usefulBe respectful

  1. Ask students why feedback must be specific.

Sample Student Responses

Sample Student Response for Feedback


  • It makes you feel good about your work if people notice the details.

  • It’s easier to decide exactly what to do to improve.

  • So people know what they should keep doingand what they can work on

  • It feels more trustworthy when you receive specific feedback

  1. Consolidate student answers to clarify that specific feedback identifies exactly what works well or needs improvement.
  2. Share that feedback is more helpful if it is useful. Discuss some ways to define useful feedback.
    • Possible: The student can actually complete the feedback. Say: Imagine this. Feedback that I don’t have time to complete just makes me feel bad. Feedback that requires materials or abilities that I don’t have makes me feel bad. Encourage students to think about what they could do and use that as a guide.
    • Relevant: It is important and related to the specific task. Say: Feedback about a classmate’s handwriting is relevant to an assignment to make a poster, where messy handwriting makes the poster less useful and effective. For a journal entry, neat handwriting isn’t important to the assignment, so feedback about it isn’t useful.
  3. Have students raise their hands if they work hard in school and care about their work. Emphasize that good peer reviewers notice how hard classmates have tried. They remember that a completed assignment really matters to the person who made it. These are two ways to be respectful.
  4. Model respectful language, using formats such as these:

Respectful Language Model


  • “My STAR/PRAISE for you is that you…..“

  • “I can see how hard you worked. One STEP/PUSH could be if you _________________________.”

  • “Your hard work with details really shows. One way you could make this writing even better would be to _________________________.”

  • “My praise for you is that you…..(give an example of something the student did well.)”
    “The rubric says _________________________, and you showed that when you _________________________.”

  • “My push for you is that you work on _________________________.”

  • “One way you could make this writing even better would be to _________________________.”


Model some or all of the following examples, one pair at a time (or create your own example pairs). Ask students to pick the most specific example in each:

Practice Respectful Language


  • Great job

  • This introduction is very catchy and makes me want to keep reading.


  • You didn’t do everything you were supposed to

  • The prompt asked for details. Maybe you could add labels to your drawing to explain how the shark’s body helps it.


  • You use a lot of different kinds of sentences. For example, the sentence “Leaping, diving and flicking their tongues, frogs catch insects by the pond” was such an interesting one.

  • Work harder on your sentences


  • I really like it. It’s great!

  • You showed a lot of details in your work, like when you showed how the leaf is attached to the tree.

  • Great job

  • This introduction is very catchy and makes me want to keep reading.


  • This work is not 4th grade level work

  • Your evidence doesn’t exactly match your reasons, for example you write that Milo is a great character, but then you talk about what happens to Milo, not about his character


  • You use a lot of different kinds of sentences. For example, the sentence “Leaping, diving and flicking their tongues, frogs catch insects by the pond” has a very complex structure.

  • Work harder on your sentences


  • I really like it. It’s great!

  • You brought in great evidence, and you ordered your points very logically. Also, your language was very clear and convincing.

For more on effective feedback, view the video about Austin’s Butterfly from Ron Berger, curator of Models of Excellence from Expeditionary Learning Education:


  1. Use this routine to engage students—especially those who are reluctant writers for any reason—or when writing tasks are particularly challenging.
  2. Prepare chart paper or a document camera so that students can all see the writing progress. Prepare a chalkboard or whiteboard for brief instruction, such as on a grammar or vocabulary point.
  3. Share the writing purpose and task, working always to create authentic writing students will find meaningful to their lives.
  4. Identify an area of focus for the shared writing practice, such as word choice or sentence construction.
  5. With students, build any background information or language students will need. Remember, you supply the bricks and students build the background foundation they need.
  6. Model the writing process for your identified writing practice, showing exemplary results as you build the draft.
  7. NOTE: If you wish to show non-exemplars, clearly identify these as including errors or you can confuse students.
  8. Use questions and prompts to elicit student input, then lead the class in deciding which input to add to the writing in progress.
  9. Pause during the shared process to discuss what
    • content should come next. Say/Ask: So far, we have written . What else do we need to write? What should we write next?
    • existing content needs revision. Review classroom practices for making changes, e.g. using carets and editing marks, writing in the margin, etc., and then engage student input about changes to make.
  10. Have students read the completed draft or read it aloud yourself to younger students. Ask: What did you learn about writing today?
  11. Reinforce the shared writing experience by referencing it during subsequent instruction and posting it for students’ use.


Explain that feedback should be specific, useful (possible and relevant), and respectful. Share each quality.



  • Highlight specific examples in the student’s work and use the language of the rubric and standards to discuss it.
  • Avoid sweeping judgments or generalities.

Examples and non-examples for specific writing feedback

Examples and Non-examples for Specific Writing Feedback



  • Your drawing of the shark is very detailed. You labeled the gills and different sets of teeth. That helped me learn about sharks.

  • I love the way you tried to spell hard words like “Tyrannosaurus” and “gigantic.”

  • It’s hard for me to tell when your sentences begin and end because there are no capitals or periods.


  • Great drawing!

  • You can do better

  • I liked it


  • This paragraph is a catchy introduction that makes me want to read more

  • You supply evidence for each point, but there is no elaboration for the evidence.

  • When you say “another reason” and “on the other hand,” it helps the reader follow your logicgood organization!


  • Great job!

  • This is not 8th grade work

  • Try harder!

Useful (possible, relevant)

  • Feedback is more helpful when it targets changes that can really be made.
  • Focus suggestions on changes students can make in the available time and with their age-appropriate skill set.
  • Feedback is useful when it is important and related to the task at hand.


  • Use language that
    • respects the effort students have made;
    • emphasizes the positive; and
    • provides solutions whenever possible, rather than just identifying problems.
    • Using a system to synthesize feedback, such as one Star (positive feedback) and one Step (areas for improvement) creates a framework for student goal-setting. Use this system or make your own.