Errors in Reasoning: Misinformation

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SWBAT write examples of opinions with errors in reasoning about a given topic.

Big Idea

Students use critical thinking skills to detect faulty logic in arguments. Non-examples help students learn, too!

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

In order to teach the Common Core writing standards of using reasoning to support opinions, I guide students to explore faulty logic examples in this unit.  Faulty logic is an argument that lacks validity. It is sometimes referred to as paradoxical reasoning because it is illogical, absurd, or contradictory.  Not only will they need to recognize faulty logic so as to avoid using it in their own opinion writing, later they will also be expected to assess reasoning provided by the author and determine if the evidence is based on fallacious reasoning as they enter middle school and high school in preparation for research in their careers or college. Students need to build on prior knowledge to get to that point.  Starting to introduce errors in logic in the primary grades gives students the foundational knowledge needed for this critical reasoning later on.

Although the concept of faulty logic and errors in reasoning is not often taught until later grades, I decided to present my gifted, high achieving class with this challenge.  It is an experiment of sorts for my class consisting of students who are out-of-the-box thinkers. The tricky part is teaching students through non-examples. This non-traditional route of teaching shows students what not to do instead of what to do.  Students use critical thinking skills as they analyze the irrationality of their writing. This activity is a demonstration of the old adage "Learn from your mistakes." Indeed, mistakes provide opportunities for learning.

Students view my Misinformation Flipchart focusing on the specific type of Errors in Reasoning, called "Misinformation," that we will explore today.  The flip chart is an interactive lesson that guides me sequentially to effectively teach this abstract concept.

Students brainstorm and discuss the concepts of Misinformation and Errors in Reasoning to what is relatable in their present lives.  My teaching to the Common Core is based on connecting to students' real world experiences.  Using real world experiences to build new knowledge adds meaning to lessons and deepens knowledge.  Learning through experiences gives learning purpose an application.


Creative Ideas

20 minutes

I ask students to create a flyer that demonstrates "Misinformation".  Students begin working in collaborative groups, using Cooperative Groups norms, roles, rules, and cooperative group rubric to guide their teamwork, as reviewed earlier at the end of the introductory flip chart.   I ask each cooperative group of four to six students to select one representative that will present their final product to the class. I circulate around the classroom as needed for support, while students create their product together, as represented by this Misinformation Student Sample.  I allow multiple discussions that generate creative ideas, as long as students show respect to one another.  That is why I review the criteria for cooperative groups prior to this activity and actively monitor their progress.  As shown on the Promethean Flip chart, students use a color coded cup system to communicate with me how they are progressing within their groups.


20 minutes

At the end of this activity, each team representative present their product.  I ask the presenter to debrief about the process that led him to his product.  In other words, I encourage students not just to present their project, but to elaborate on its content and discuss the thinking process behind the project.  The audience also has opportunity to ask questions and make comments about the presentations.  Since this is a complex task, as supported by common core, I do not expect perfection.  Students often mispronounce words, but I focus on their explanations and thinking process.  Again, I am laying the foundational knowledge of Misinformation.  Students will build on that foundation in future grades.