Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Fact and Opinion Detectives

Sarah Hebert
Citrus County Schools

Description

In this lesson, students learn to distinguish facts from opinions in a child's news magazine.

Objectives

The student distinguishes fact from opinions in newspapers, magazines, and other media.

Materials

- Comic-style character cutout or poster (See attached file.)
- Chalkboard with chalk or Whiteboard with markers
- Paragraph for group practice (See attached file.)
- Transparency pens (2 colors)
- Overhead projector
- Class set of newsmagazine for children such as [Time for Kids, Weekly Reader, Scholastic News], or similar type of on-grade level news media for children

Preparations

1. Prepare a comic-style character large enough for the whole class to see. (See associated file.)
2. Prepare an overhead transparency of the practice paragraph. (See associated file.)
3. Gather a classroom set of a student magazine such as [Time for Kids, Weekly Reader, or Scholastic News.] Check that issue to make sure there are at least 5 facts and 5 opinions within the issue.
4. Gather 2 different-colored overhead transparency pens, an overhead projector, and enough lined paper for all of the students.
5. Make one copy of the assessment rubric for teacher use.

Procedures

1. Place the comic-style character on the board.

2. Ask students to tell about the character. As students contribute statements, write these statements on the board in two columns. Do not label the columns at this time, but write facts on the left side and opinions on the right side. (If students do not contribute at least 4 facts and 4 opinions, say, "I thought of some things to say, too." Then add additional facts or opinions as needed. These can be found in the attached file.)

3. Ask: "How are these two groups of sentences alike?" Allow student response.

4. Ask: "How are these two groups of sentences different?" Allow student response.

5. Guide students to the definitions of fact and opinion. If necessary say, Look at the sentences on the left. Can we prove that those statements are true? Look at the sentences on the right. Can we prove that those are true?

6. Label the sentences on the left as facts. State that facts are statements that can be proven to be true.

7. Label the sentences on the right as opinions. State that opinions are thoughts, feelings, or beliefs.

8. Show the sample paragraph (see associated file) using the overhead projector. Tell students that they must become detectives to help you find all of the facts and opinions in the paragraph.

9. Have students find the facts first. Underline these with an overhead pen.

10. Have students find the opinions. Underline these with an overhead pen of another color.

11. Show the cover of one of the magazines. Ask: Why is it important to be able to distinguish facts from opinions in a magazine? Discuss this with the class.

12. Explain to students that they will need to use their detective skills one more time. They will be searching through their weekly magazine with a partner to track down facts and opinions. Their job will be to find and write 5 facts and 5 opinions from the magazine. All of the statements they write must come from the magazine.

13. Distribute lined paper to students. Have them fold it in half lengthwise. (I call this a hot dog fold because it is long like a hot dog bun.) On the first line on the left side, the students should write the label FACTS. On the first line on the right, the students should write the label OPINIONS. Tell students to write the facts they find under the word facts and the opinions they find under the word opinions.

14. Allow students time to complete the magazine activity.

15. Once students have finished, ask for volunteers to share the facts and opinions they found.

16. The teacher should collect the fact/opinion lists for later formative assessment with the rubric. (See associated file)

Assessments

NOTE: This lesson instructs and assesses distinguishing facts from opinions in magazines only.

Use the studentís completed fact and opinion lists to formatively assess the studentís ability to distinguish fact from opinion in a magazine. Use the following rubric:
Level 3: Studentís statements come directly from the magazine. At least 9 of the 10 statements are correctly classified as facts or opinions.
Level 2: Studentís statements come directly from the magazine. 6 to 8 statements are correctly classified as facts or opinions.
Level 1: Studentís statements may not all come directly from the magazine. 0-5 statements are correctly classified as facts or opinions.
Students who score in Level 3 are probably ready for the extension activities.
Students who score in Level 2 have some grasp of the skill, but are not yet firm on it. They should have additional practice in finding facts and opinions in magazines.
Students who score in Level 1 have weak understanding of this skill. They require additional teacher instruction and guided practice.

Extensions

Modifications for ESE:
1.Have the magazine available on audiotape so ESE students can listen for facts and opinions.
2. Match the ESE student with a partner who is an able reader. Have the able reader read the articles aloud as the partners work together.
3. Provide a student magazine with a lower reading level.
Extensions:
1. Have students highlight facts and opinions from the school newsletter or local newspaper.
Have them use one color for facts and another color for opinions.
2. Have students write a news article about a class event such as a field trip or party. Have students trade articles and color-code facts and opinions in each otherís articles.
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