Lesson: Fact, Opinion and Evidence

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Lesson Objective

Students differentiate strong from weak evidence and evaluate the strength of cases against characters

Lesson Plan

 Lesson Name: Fact, Opinion and Evidence                        Course: High School Language Arts by Anke al-Bataineh

Objective:  Students differentiate strong from weak evidence and evaluate the strength of cases against characters

Essential Questions:            (write on board)
What is the difference between facts and opinions? Why does that matter?

What kinds of evidence should be given the most credit (trust)?

Evidence Organizer

Evidence list of model character (made by teacher)

Fact/Opinion Sorter (I used sentences from http://www.worsleyschool.net/socialarts/factopinion/factopinion.html because they have a nice level of complexity to really challenge students.)

Anticipatory Set:         (10 min)
Track this discussion on the board. Ask students about crime shows on TV:

Which do they watch?

What are some facts the investigators might collect?

What are some opinion the investigators might run into?

What kinds of evidence are used to prove cases?

Which kinds of evidence are the most credible?

Input:         (20 min)
Ask students to review fact vs. opinion with the Fact/Opinion Sorter if this is a familiar concept. If it is an area that needs review, there is a good lesson model available at http://betterlesson.org/lessonfiles/view/24073.


Once that is mastered, distribute and/or project the Evidence organizer with the criteria. Use a think-aloud approach to model classifying evidence by strength. Do this for the first group of evidence, and begin engaging students who understand in the second case. If more practice is needed, ask a student to describe a case they recall from a TV investigation show, lay out three or more pieces of evidence and classify them as a class.

Guided Practice:         (20 min)
Distribute a print out of some evidence for or against the guilt of the character you will be using for the model presentation. List this in simple sentences. Ask students to work in pairs, classifying each piece of evidence (you might throw in some opinions for an extra challenge) as Strong, Medium or Weak. You may ask students to draw a guilty/innocent conclusion based on this or, more challengingly, to generate a QAR list of questions they would like to have answered in addition to this evidence.  Discuss when most groups have finished.

Independent Work:         (10 min)
Ask students to classify the evidence they have collected about their own assigned character and to think about the implications of what they find.

Conclusion/Assessment:         (5 min)
Do you think every case against a suspect must have strong evidence? Are there cases in which you would believe someone was guilty if the evidence was only weak or medium?






Vocab to Watch Out For:




Lesson Reflection:

What went well?

What would you change?

What needs explanation?

Students have strong feelings about the strength of evidence and understand why it is important to differentiate after seeing examples. They are very familiar with crime shows like CSI and Law and Order.

It is shocking how many students have a weak grasp on fact vs. opinion. So, I assess this carefully and teach it if there is any need at all.

I used the words “strong, medium, weak” to simplify things. You may want to choose language that has more of a criminal justice ring to it or is more applicable to forensic debate, depending on the context of your class.


Lesson Resources

factopinionevidence   Lesson Plan
Fact OpinionSorter   Classwork
Evidence Organizer  


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