Distinguishing Fact and Opinion
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GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT: 7-12
It is necessary in our day and age for a student to know what is a fact or an opinion; this is because they must be able to discern the value of what is being told them.
Students will be able to pick up clues in the wordage of a sentence to determine if it is factual and be able to give reasons for their feelings. It should help students explain the difference between statements of hard fact as found on the front page of a newspaper from that of the editorial page.
None are needed except a generated list of facts and opinions that can be presented as a quiz in which the student can mark whether it is one or the other by marking it either with an "O" or an "F".
ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES:
Make a list of short sentences pulled from the text, A variation of this would be to have the students compile a list of sentences pulled from the text and write them down to be handed in so the you can make a list from the students' lists. Tell the students what an opinion is and what a fact is. An opinion will involve a judgment about the worth or value of something, whereas a fact has evidence to prove it.
Explain that a fact as presented may be false, but it can be proved to be so. If judgments are based on faulty assumptions or facts that the resulting actions taken in response may be askew. Opinions will be deduced as involving an interpretation or explanations for something or some happening which may seem logical but may have legitimate variations of interpretation.
Present the list of statements as a quiz (non-graded) and have the students write whether they think it is a fact or an opinion. It is helpful, if on three of the statements of more importance, to have the students explain why the statement, in their view, is a fact t or an opinion. For instance, one of the underlying beliefs of the American system is that "all men are created equal." Is it a fact or an opinion? Of course, since it involves belief, it is an opinion. The students could have fun or might find it interesting to figure out what the phrase means and they could also give other beliefs held by different societies about how "man is created." As the list is reviewed, make comments as to why a statement is a fact or an opinion and solicit comments from the students as to how they perceived the statement. One of your primary roles in this assignment is to be able to discern fact from opinion yourself.
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:
Design another list of facts and opinions and give it as a test (this one counts as a grade).
This activity should be done as a preliminary to a study of historical problems or governments so that students may evaluate the discussions and decisions made throughout history in regard to the values commonly held in today. Students will become aware that much of what is written and said has interpretation and will need research to verify the statement.
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