Mini lessons on facts and opinions can be fun as well as informative. Using critical literacy, provide students with a hands-on lesson in which they will find evidence of facts and opinions within various texts. These mini-lessons are for high school students or high-level middle school readers.
What Do You Think?
Before you begin mini lessons on facts and opinions, discuss with your class the difference between the two. Create mind maps of the two words, having students list everything they know about facts and opinions. There should be several key points found for each.
based in truth
can be seen, observed, or found
are known to exist
a personal opinion
not necessarily based in truth
an assumption or judgment
Either give the students a handout of their mind map, to refer to as they do their mini lessons on opinions and facts, or leave the mind maps on the board for them to see as they work.
Objective: To demonstrate the differences of facts and opinions in the news.
Materials Needed: Copies of a newspaper article, and two different colored highlighters for each student.
Task: Ask the students to read the article through once. Then, have them go back, re-reading the article and highlighting facts and opinions using different color highlighters for each. This lesson can also be done by dividing the students into two groups. One group searches for facts, highlighting in one color; the other group searches for opinions, highlighting in the other color.
Assessment: Once students finish searching for facts and opinions, they share their findings. Create a master list of these findings, correcting any errors in judgment, as the students share their lists.
Objective: To learn how to pull facts and opinions from various texts.
Materials Needed: Copies of text from several different sources, for instance: an advertisement, a history book, a novel, and a research paper.
Task: Students can work in pairs or alone. They read the various texts, creating a list of facts and opinions. Discussion should include asking the students to consider why certain facts and opinions are listed in the various texts. What was the author hoping to convey to the reader?
Assessment: Each student or pair of students should be able to defend their choices, thereby showing they understand what the differences of facts and opinions are.
How Facts Are Used
Can facts be used to give an opinion of something? When do people do this? How can do we know this? These are questions to discuss with your students as they work through lessons on facts and opinions.
Objective: To show how facts and opinions can be intertwined to create propaganda, to enable students to pull facts from opinion, in order to understand the purpose of the specific text.
Lesson: Discuss with students what they know about propaganda. How do the creators of propaganda use facts and opinions to create sympathy for or to hurt a specific group of people, organization, and/or idea?
Have students examine two different texts. One created to help an organization, group of people and/or idea; the other to bring harm or to alienate an organization, group of people and/or idea, for instance, an ad from the Cancer Association on smoking and a cigarette advertisement. Both will have facts; what are they? Both have opinions; what are they? How are these facts twisted to convince the reader of the writer's opinion of smoking?
Assessment: After studying the various texts, students will write a one-page reflection paper on what they found discussing and defending their opinions.
These mini-lessons on facts and opinions will help student read texts critically, thereby, strengthening their ability to discern the differences between facts and opinions.