It's important for students to know the difference between facts and opinions. Today we are going to be diving into what facts are. Not only is this an important reading skill, knowing what facts are will help us in two ways today. First, we are going to be relying on our knowledge of nonfiction text features so we can gain knowledge not only from the text, but also from illustrations, captions, and labels. When we learn about facts, I want my students to understand that nonfiction sources are a great way to find facts. We will be doing a great deal of expository writing in my class this year, and I know this lesson will help them with their research. I taught a whole unit on nonfiction text features and have told my students before that I would miss a great deal of information when I was little because I would skip over captions, and labels, and subheadings. My students know to look at these features to find information. Finally, students will need to answer questions that I ask about the text so they can tell me the facts they learned about clouds.
We are also doing some informational paragraph writing in this lesson. Students will need to write an expository piece where they name the topic, supply facts, and provide a closure. I want my students to understand that when they write expository text that they are the author and that their purpose for writing is to help their readers learn something about a topic. They need facts in order to write their expository pieces. Over the next few months I will be teaching my students how to effectively find facts when researching so that they can write strong informational paragraphs.
For today's lesson I used these two books: "It's Cloudy Today" by Kristin Sterling and "Clouds" by Alice K. Flanagan, but you can read any nonfiction book on clouds that you'd like. You will also need the either the Smartboard Facts and Opinions About Clouds.notebook or Activboard Facts and Opinions About Clouds.flipchart lesson called "Facts and Opinions on Clouds." You will also need to make copies of the Cloud Fact Writing Cloud Fact Writing for each of your students.
Before the lesson started, I partnered up my students and they decided who would be Person 1 and Person 2. Then, I brought my students to the carpet and stated the objective. I said, "Today we are going to be learning about facts. Facts are things that can be proven to be true. It is important to learn about facts because when we write our expository pieces, as authors, we want our readers to learn something new. We do this by telling them facts about a topic. Yesterday we wrote some opinions about clouds. Today we are going to write facts about clouds. I'm going to start by reading you some books that will help you learn facts about clouds."
I started reading the books. Not only did I focus on the text, I also pointed out the pictures and read the captions and labels so my students could gather information about the clouds. After reading several pages I said, "Person 1, talk to your partner and tell them some facts that you've learned about clouds. Remember, you need to speak in complete sentences." I gave them a few minutes to talk about what they had learned so far. I read some more and after reading several more pages I said, "Person 2, talk to your partner and tell them some facts that you've learned about clouds from these pages. Remember, you need to speak in complete sentences as well." I continued reading the books, stopping every several pages, giving my students to talk about the content. I wanted my students to really address standard SL1.4 - Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly. I said, "Use details to describe what those clouds look like to your partner. How did the author describe each kind of cloud?"
During our partner talk time I was listening carefully to what students were saying. Students were doing well and I wanted to point that out to students. I said, "Yesterday we talked about opinions and you used your clue words like "I feel ... In my opinion ... I believe ..." I don't hear you saying that today. I really like how you are telling your partner the facts that you are learning from the text. Remember, facts are statements that can be proven to be true, so keeping telling your partner the true things that you are learning about clouds."
We then turned our attention to the Smartboard lesson and did the pages about facts. We practiced writing facts and continued discussing that a fact is something that can be proven to be true. I really wanted to assess whether my students could pick out facts from a text and then write down the facts. I also wanted them to verbalize how they knew what they had written was a fact. I would say, "How do you know that what you wrote is a fact?" I wanted to drive this point home with my students.
You can see their discussion in a video here: Discussing Cloud Facts.mp4.
It was time to do some independent practice. I said, "Now it's your turn to show me what you know about facts. You are going to get a paper. You will need to tell me 3 facts that you learned about clouds. We have been working hard to restate the question and use that as the first part of our answer. You will also need to make sure you write in complete sentences. When you are done with that, on the back side, you will need to write and tell me how you know what you have written are facts. Does everyone understand what to do?"
I passed out papers and the students got to work. I circulated around the room, helping students if they needed it. I scaffolded my support with students, offering more support to the students who typically struggle with getting started on complex writing tasks.
You can see how my students did and how I tried to question my students to help them arrive at the correct answers on their own by watching the video here: Writing Cloud Facts.mp4.
If you've seen my lessons before, you know that I like the closure part of my lessons to be short and sweet. I have a Facebook poster that one of my teacher aides made for my class. I passed out a post it note to each student so they could "post" what we had learned that day. I said, "I want you to post why it's important to learn about facts."
The students wrote down why they thought learning facts was important. I really wanted to assess if they understood the objective and our purpose for learning, and this closure gave me that opportunity.