In moving on from point of view and perspective, I wanted my students to explore a bit more of bias and and how one's interpretation of a situation colors the retelling of said situation. I've already discussed at length with my students the situation of two kids getting into trouble and "spinning" the story so it looks like it wasn't their fault. On of our class mantras is, "The truth is always in the middle." They've had the opportunity to compare and contrast points of view and discuss the fact that a 3rd person narrator presents a more "fair" telling of a story. But we have yet to review the idea of fact and opinion.
There isn't a CCSS directly for fact and opinion in 4th grade, however, since the switchover has occurred, there are gaps in certain places in the curriculum that need to be covered. Fact and opinion seems to be one of those gaps. So, I decided to pretest my students on fact and opinion to make sure they had the foundation move forward.
Today is the pretest/ left side Interactive Student Notebook day. As the students enter the class and get settled, I hand out the fact and opinion pretest. I really don't want to discuss it before hand as I don't want anyone calling out what a fact and opinion is and ruin my data collection.
A note here: The attached pretest can be used with any article you choose. I used the Time for Kids article entitled "Getting Active in School" which can be found here. I just attached it to the test and handed it out.
It doesn't take the students long to complete the pretest as I had anticipated. I collect the pretests and flip through them quickly. I notice that most of the students can name a fact and opinion if presented separately, however, given a piece of text, they have a much harder time culling the information.
Now, had my students understood fact and opinion to the depth I wanted them to, I would have skipped this lesson and moved forward to the real world application lesson, but they didn't so I won't!! I present to the students the left side activity for their Interactive Student Notebook. I did have both ready to go just in case.
The left side notebook activity involves cutting out the two squares included in the documents in the resource section. I have the students glue just the top of each square and glue it on their left side. Gluing just the top makes a flap under which the students can write. The squares are already labeled fact and opinion so labeling is not necessary.
Under the fact flap, on the notebook paper, I ask the students what a fact is. One of them replies, "Something that can be proven." We write, "Something that can be proven" under the flap on the notebook paper. For the underside of the flap, we discussed how to prove a fact and as a class we came up with the following ways to prove a fact: Ask the person/ expert, Look it up in a book/ on the Internet, See it with your own eyes. We wrote these things on the underside of the flap.
For the opinion flap, I asked the students what an opinion was. One of them replied, "It's how someone feels." I acknowledged this answer and we added "or feels" and wrote it under the flap.
After the left side activity is done, there was a tiny amount of time left and I wanted students to have some practice time, so I handed out white boards and dry erase markers. (My students LOVE these!!) I called out different sentences and had them write fact or opinion on the board. We continue this until the end of class.
A note here: When I do these kinds of activities, I have the students hold their boards down until I say. I don't need this to become a race where students copy off others. I want to see who knows the difference between fact and opinion and which types are causing the most difficulty. I also don't keep score, BUT, for a fact, I do ask how would you prove that and if the student can tell me, I allow them to write their name on our Bingo board. (The Bingo board is our classroom management tool. You could also hand out tickets, points, or whatever you use in your classroom.)