Explaining Reasons and Evidence


Explaining Reasons and Evidence teaches students the difference between reasons supported with evidence and an author’s opinion in an informational text. Students will analyze texts and determine whether statements are fact, reason, evidence, or opinion.

The “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page outlines some additional activities and variations that you can use when presenting this lesson to your students. Find 10 fact questions and 10 opinions. Read each statement aloud and ask students to raise their left hand every time they hear an opinion and their right hand for a fact.

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What our Explaining Reasons and Evidence lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Explaining Reasons and Evidence teaches students how to differentiate between reasons supported with evidence and an author’s opinion in an informational text. Then they will draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. Finally, students will explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points. This lesson is for students in 5th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. Ensure your students have access to the internet for this lesson.

Options for Lesson

You can take advantage of the suggestions in the “Options for Lesson” section that offers additional activities or ideas to incorporate into the lesson plan. To grasp and comprehend the lesson, students must understand the basic concepts of opinion or fact. Introduce the lesson by playing a game. Find 10 fact questions and 10 opinions. Read each statement aloud and ask students to raise their left hand every time they hear an opinion and their right hand for a fact. Have students write their own list of facts and opinions to use in the game.

Teacher Notes

The paragraph on this page gives you a little more information on the lesson overall and describes what you may want to focus your teaching on. The blank lines are available for you to write out any thoughts or ideas you have as you prepare.


The Explaining Reasons and Evidence lesson plan contains four pages of content. By now, you have learned about two types of text, literary and informational. Literary text is mostly fun stuff you read, like fiction books or poems. Informational text is nonfiction text. The purpose of informational text is to inform you of something. Some examples of informational texts are textbooks, research papers, or instructions.

Studies show that by the time you become an adult, nearly 80% of the reading you do during the day will be information. You probably think of a lot of the information you read daily as something other than reading! For example, prescription instructions, lunch menus, or sports stats. All of these are forms of information we consume with little thought. However, the information you read—such as textbooks, test instructions, opinions, or other materials—requires a different thinking process.

Opinions and Facts

What is an opinion? When we state an opinion, we make a judgment about something, but it is not always based on fact. An opinion is a statement based on feelings, beliefs, or attitudes. Some opinions may have facts to support them, but the author only presents the facts that best support their idea.

For example, an author writing a soccer team story may say that one soccer team is the greatest ever based on their winning record. The author then presents the team’s win-loss percentage record as evidence. The author doesn’t tell you that the team has never won a championship in all the years the group has existed! Also, the difference between the best-winning record and the second is less than 1%. Did the author prove the team is the best ever? Not really; it is the author’s opinion.

Stating an opinion is not a bad thing. Debating views can lead to a better understanding of issues. They educate people with differing ideas. However, you must be aware that people can “twist” facts to fit a specific conclusion. Always check what someone says as an opinion using good sources of information and facts. Be skeptical, or question, when you hear something reasonable but that may misrepresent the facts.

You learned that informational texts contain facts. So, what are facts? A fact is something that is known to be true. Facts are verified by evidence. Evidence is the accumulation of facts that indicate something is true or accurate. One way to think about facts is that they don’t vary from one person to another. For example, one plus one will always equal two. There is no argument about that!

And facts are not emotion based. They are what they are. Two will always be the correct answer to one plus one. When writing informational texts, authors explain why (the reason) they believe something is accurate. A reason is the cause, explanation, theory, or justification for an event or idea. Authors use reasons backed by facts and evidence to present information.

Difference between Fact and Opinion

“How do I know if it is the author’s opinion or a fact?” This is an important question. How do you know if something is opinion or fact? One way is to recall the author’s purpose in writing the informational text. Another method is to ask what point of view the text is written in. Opinions are most likely written in the first person or use the “I” or “we” pronouns. The author is speaking from their personal perspective. When you read an opinion, you sometimes feel that the author is speaking directly to you and trying to convince you of something.

When you read most informational texts, the writing has a formal feel. Informational text is generally written in the third person. The third person is not personal like the first person. The author will quote experts and have facts supported with evidence for each reason they provide. The facts and evidence will be cited, or a reference will be listed, so that you can go read the source of the information.

Finally, the writer will address all sides of an issue or subject. Remember, in opinions, the author is trying to bolster the case that their side is the right way to look at a problem. In informational texts, the author reports the facts. The reader decides if the author has made their case based on the facts and evidence in informational texts. The lesson lists six purposes for informational texts and six common types.

Purpose for Reasons

If you have facts and evidence, what’s the purpose of reasons? You learned earlier that a reason is the cause, explanation, theory, or justification for an event or idea. Informational texts are not designed to persuade someone. Those texts are considered persuasive, and opinions fall into this category. Authors write informational texts to educate and inform readers. Reasons explain some parts of the text to make it clearer to the reader. Think about it. Would a list of facts without any connection catch your interest? Probably not.

Facts and evidence connect to the reasons, making them plausible or accurate statements about what happened. On this page, students can read an excerpt that was written by a student that displays the difference between fact, reason, and evidence. Reasons are highlighted, the facts are in italics, and the evidence statements are bolded.

Obviously, when reading informational text, it probably will not have facts, evidence, and reasons in different styles! As the reader, you will have to pick them out for yourself. At the bottom of the page, students can review examples of things that are common to facts, evidence, and reasons. For instance, facts often include dates and numbers.


The Explaining Reasons and Evidence lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one will reinforce students’ comprehension of lesson material in different ways and help them demonstrate when they learned. Use the guidelines on the classroom procedure page to determine when to distribute each worksheet to the class.


The activity for this lesson reviews the difference between a fact and an opinion. Students will read through 18 statements. They must determine if each one is an opinion (O) or a fact (F) and write the corresponding letting in the right column.


For the practice worksheet, students will read eight statements. They must decide whether the statement is fact, evidence, or reason. It is possible for more than one answer to apply to each statement. At the bottom of the page, students will explain why that is in their own words.


The homework assignment requires students to read a short passage about the existence or nonexistence of King Arthur. The passage discusses some evidence to support the idea that King Arthur was a real King of England. It also provides some evidence that he might just be a popular character in stories. Students will explain whether they believe the facts provided in the passage support the author’s reasoning that King Arthur did, in fact, exist.

Worksheet Answer Keys

There are answer keys for both the practice and homework worksheets at the end of the lesson plan document. Correct responses are in red to make it easy to compare them with your students’ work. Given the nature of the homework assignment, answers will vary but should be supported logically. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


5th Grade


Language Arts

State Educational Standards


Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.