What our Facts and Opinions lesson plan includes
Lesson Objectives and Overview: Facts and Opinions introduces students to the difference between something that is factual and something that is simply an opinion. Students will learn to identify and distinguish between the two. They will also analyze current events stories, articles, and other sources to find examples of each. By the end, they will have a firm knowledge of what a fact is and what an opinion is.
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.
Options for Lesson
There are suggestions in the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page for additional activities or ideas. Students may work alone or in groups for the activity. Use current events stories, history textbooks, and other passages for the activity. Students write a short history of their life using both fact and opinion statements and then share them with another student to identify. Students use the editorial pages to identify biased words and qualifiers used by writers. Display an image from history and allow students to write facts and opinions related to the event.
The teacher notes page provides an extra paragraph of information to help guide the lesson. It mentions the importance of providing students the tools to distinguish the difference between a fact and an opinion, even when people present opinions as facts. You can use the blank lines to write down any other ideas or thoughts you have about the topic as you prepare.
FACTS AND OPINIONS LESSON PLAN CONTENT PAGES
Facts vs. Opinions
The Facts and Opinions lesson plan has five content pages. You probably read many kinds of texts, from news stories online to the social studies textbooks or handouts available in your school. In addition, you may listen to and watch news stories or hosts on television or the internet. Or perhaps you watch YouTube, Instagram videos, Netflix shows, and many other kinds of media. One thing to remember is that nearly everything you read or hear includes a mix of facts and opinions.
You certainly know the difference between the two. It is a fact you are reading these words. It is an opinion to think the words are interesting or not. Facts are specific details that are true and based on objective truth, such as physical evidence, an eyewitness account, or the result of an accepted scientific method. On the other hand, opinions are an interpretation, judgment of values, or a belief that we cannot prove or disprove. Opinions also use biased words such as beautiful, amazing, exciting, interesting, and many others.
Unfortunately, there are many articles you read or people you listen to that include many opinions that seem to sound like facts. And sometimes, people format facts to sound like opinions. How can you tell the difference? Often, it can be very difficult if you do not carefully review the information you read or hear.
Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to help identify a fact or an opinion. It is important to know the difference. If a person’s opinion sounds like a fact, their words may be unfairly biased. Plus, they might keep you from reading or hearing all the relevant facts. This is especially important if you are interested in forming your own opinion about a topic, political cause, belief, or another idea people share.
Identifying the Difference
The line between a fact and an opinion can be blurry. Many statements often blend the two, and there are various levels of opinions. There are a few questions to ask yourself to determine whether a statement is a fact:
- Can I prove or demonstrate the statement to be true?
- Can I observe the statement in practice or operation?
- Can witnesses or documents verify the statement ?
If the answer is “no” to any of the questions, then the statement is NOT a fact but an opinion. However, there are some statements that combine a fact and an opinion. For example: Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s 16th president, was the best leader in history. The statement includes a fact because it is true that Lincoln was the 16th president. However, it is an opinion that he was the best leader in history. Writers and speakers use these types of statements quite often. Sometimes a person will mix in facts to create the illusion that the opinion must be true as well.
Simply because a speaker or writer includes a variety of facts in their words does not mean their opinions have more or less value. However, there are different levels of opinions that sometimes may be more respected or have a greater influence on the listener or reader.
The three levels of opinions include the following:
- Uninformed opinion: This is an opinion that is not based on fact or that is given without knowing all the facts. For example, a child might say asparagus tastes terrible even though he or she has never tasted it.
- Informed opinion: This is an opinion developed by gathering and analyzing as much evidence as possible. For example, a news reporter might write an informed opinion editorial about a political candidate.
- Expert opinion: An expert opinion is one developed through much training and extensive knowledge in an area of life or given field. For example, a doctor might advice to a patient about exercise and diet.
Informed and expert opinions often sound like facts, but they are still opinions. However, expert and informed opinions are still better than uninformed ones.
While reading a text or news story or listening to a speaker, you must properly evaluate the information. A fact must be objective, something without biases from personal feelings, ideas, or opinions of a subject. A fact should be neutral and not take sides. An opinion is subjective, which means the personal feelings and tastes influence the statements. Most people’s points of view and beliefs are based on a blend of fact and opinion.
For example, a friend wins a contest. It is a fact he won, but you are jealous of him, so you criticize the contest and share a negative opinion about the victory. Your opinion is subjective and you base it on your feelings. If you were objective, you might congratulate the friend for winning and speak positively about the contest.
You must think critically when trying to separate a fact from an opinion. The lesson provides a small chart that lists the characteristics of facts on one side and opinions on the other. Facts are subjective, discoverable, verifiable and unbiased. Opinions are objective, interpretive, and not verifiable. These clues will help you identify the differences.
Bias and Qualifiers
Biased words are those we can use to identify opinions. These include words with emotions such as the following: amazing, bad, beautiful, disgusting, favorite, fun, great, horrible, more, unbelievable, and many others. Other words you often find in opinion statements are called qualifiers and may express an absolute, unwavering opinion. This includes words like always and never.
Other qualifiers express an opinion in the form of a command such as must or should. More qualifier words are all, believe, could, every, has or have to, likely, may, often, possibly, probably, seem, only, sometimes, think, usually and several others. Speakers or writers will also use statements that include false facts. These are untrue statements that have the markings of a fact. The statements will mislead a reader and present false information. They can be opinions that sound like facts. Some of these opinions are introduced with phrases like in truth, the truth of the matter, in fact, honestly, and others.
Here are a couple statements that sound like facts but are pure opinions:
In truth, the cost of the building is expensive and highly inefficient. Honestly, it was the best movie ever.
It is an opinion if something is expensive, highly inefficient, or the best ever. Be aware of opinions that sound like facts. Always question what you read by a writer or hear from a speaker.
In addition, it is important to know the background of the speaker or writer. In other words, consider the source of the statements, text, or speech. For example, if your friend plays basketball all year long, they may have a poor opinion of other sports. However, since they do play basketball so much, their opinion about the game will be more valuable than a person who has never played basketball.
Finally, textbooks like those you use at school are usually written carefully and present only ideas based on observations, research, and expert opinion. The authors of the books use pictures, drawings, or graphics to make the relationship between the main idea and the supporting details clear. Readers will need to closely analyze the graphics to determine facts from opinions as they are interpreted.
The lesson then asks students to read a passage. It asks students, “Can you tell the difference between the facts and opinions?”
“People throughout the world are connected to the Internet, and many use social media apps to connect with each other. In fact, nearly 3 billion people around the world are social network users. Unfortunately, the number will likely increase before it decreases. Parents everywhere do not like it when their kids are using it. However, social media has been an amazing tool which helped bring peace to many situations. Some of the most popular apps in the U.S. include Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The truth of the matter is the growth of social media most likely will cause many problems for all young people too. For example, all children’s grades in school will suffer because they are not focused on their lessons.”
There are several opinions mixed in with a variety of facts. For example, it is a fact that there are nearly 3 billion people using social media. However, to say it is unfortunate is the writer’s opinion. We find another opinion in the line, “Parents everywhere do not like it when their kids are using it.” Of course, there may be many parents who do not like their children to use social media, but it cannot be a fact because we cannot prove the statement.
Did you see the false fact that starts with the phrase, “The truth of the matter is”? It is not a fact that the growth of social media most likely will cause many problems for all young people or that children’s grades will suffer. If a statement can be proven and verified, it is a fact. If not, it is an opinion. Facts are true statements that we base on objective truth. Opinions are statements that involve interpretation or a judgment of values. We cannot prove or disprove opinions because they are subjective.
FACTS AND OPINIONS LESSON PLAN WORKSHEETS
The Facts and Opinions lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. These worksheets will help students demonstrate what they learned throughout the lesson and reinforce the lesson concepts. The guide on the classroom procedure page outlines when to hand out each worksheet to your students.
EXPLAIN WHY ACTIVITY
The activity worksheet will help students solidify their grasp of the lesson. They will work with partners as they explain why certain statements are either fact or opinion, or both. If the statement is an opinion, they will write their own. If it is a fact, they will write an opinion related to the fact. There are 10 total statements in the activity.
FACT, OPINION, OR BOTH PRACTICE WORKSHEET
For the practice, students will hone the skill of recognizing bias and qualifiers. There are 20 statements total. Students will mark whether each one is a fact (F), an opinion (O), or both (B). After reviewing the statements, they will circle all the biased words and qualifiers.
FACTS AND OPINIONS HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
The homework assignment has a few sections. First, students will have to mark whether opinions are uninformed (U), informed (I), or expert (E). There are 10 statements in that section. Next, they will read a passage. They will underline all the facts and circle all the opinions. Last, they will define six different words relating to the lesson material.
Worksheet Answer Keys
There are answer keys for the practice and homework worksheets at the end of the Facts and Opinions lesson plan. All the correct answers are in red to make it easy to compare them with your students’ responses. Because of the subjective nature of some of the prompts, answers will vary. 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.