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McREL Standards Activity


Is It Fact or Opinion?


Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will distinguish between fact and opinion.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
Language Arts
 Standard 7.Uses skills and strategies to read a variety of informational texts
   Level III [Grade 6-8]
   Benchmark 1. Reads a variety of informational texts (e.g., electronic texts; textbooks; biographical sketches; directions; essays; primary source historical documents, including letters and diaries; print media, including editorials, news stories, periodicals, and magazines; consumer, workplace, and public documents, including catalogs,technical directions, procedures, and bus routes)
Language Arts
 Standard 7.Uses skills and strategies to read a variety of informational texts
   Level III [Grade 6-8]
   Benchmark 6. Understand the evidence used to support an assertion in informational texts (e.g., differentiates between fact and opinion).
Student Product:Written explanation and class discussion
Material & Resources:Copies of, or excerpts from, a published diary (e.g., Anne Frank’s "The Diary of a Young Girl," Eric Sloane’s "The Diary of an Early American Boy")
Teacher's Note:While "The Diary of an Early American Boy" does contain the diary of 15-year-old Noah Blake, it also contains embellishments by Eric Sloane, and care must be taken to separate the two.
Activity
Diaries are often a combination of fact and opinion, thereby offering students a good opportunity to read the text and learn to distinguish between the two. For this activity, students can either read the entire text of a nonfiction diary, or, if time is limited, simply read an excerpt that contains both fact and opinion (e.g., Anne Frank’s explanation of why she is in hiding vs. her feelings about Peter). After students have read the text, teachers should ask them to break into groups of four or five. The groups should reconsider the text and each group member should select at least one instance of fact and one instance of opinion. The groups should record each fact and opinion, as well as the textual evidence or prior knowledge that led each student to thise decision (e.g., what textual evidence has persuaded them that a statement is opinion? What do they already know about the Holocaust that leads them to believe that a statement is fact?). If disagreement occurs regarding whether an item is fact or opinion, students should discuss the item, and record evidence from both sides of the issue, if necessary. When the groups have completed their written lists, teachers can engage students in a class discussion of which aspects of the text are fact and which are opinion, and why, allowing for disagreement among students. If applicable, teachers should also allow those who disagree with the primary designation the opportunity to explain why they disagree and what evidence they have to support their determination.