In order for students to begin writing opinion pieces, they have to know the meaning of opinion first. This lesson focuses on the difference between fact and opinion. I wrote the definitions and examples of both on chart paper and displayed it in front of the class. I did this to serve as a visual reminder for students. I gave additional examples of both verbally. I explained that facts are known to be true and no one can argue them. For example, cats have four legs. No one can argue that cats have six legs or two legs. It is a fact. Now, if I said cats are better than dogs…before I could finish my statement, several students spoke up and said dogs were better. It was the perfect segue into the definition of opinion, which is what an individual thinks or feels about something. We spent a few minutes discussing the difference between facts about cats, such as they are animals, mammals, etc., and opinions about them, such as they are easier to care for than dogs.
I told students they were going to write fact and opinion statements about different topics. I modeled writing a fact and an opinion about dogs on the board. Because it was such a hot topic, I had students write their own fact and opinion statements about dogs on their white boards. They drew a line down the middle of their white board and labeled one side fact and the other opinion. I knew it would be easy for them to write an opinion about something that generated strong feelings. I guided them through writing statements about other subjects.
Students were given a set of fact and opinion cards. The cards had various topics and students had to write a fact and opinion statement on each respective card. I walked around while students worked, providing assistance as needed.
I assessed students on whether or not they had correctly written fact and opinion statements for each topic. Students had trouble distinguishing fact from their opinion on the fact cards. For example, video games are fun was presented as a hard fact. I had a tough time explaining that it was an opinion; it is based on feeling and not everyone feels video games are fun. This was so baffling to students, it was a bit comical. From my assessment, I ascertained they will need one or two more lessons on distinguishing fact from opinion.
I closed the lesson by reviewing the definitions and examples of fact and opinion on the chart. I did not want to go further with fact and opinion because I had explained it in great detail. It was clear they needed more time and I needed to present the information again and/or in a different way. I told students they would have another opportunity to work on the concept the following day. They enjoyed today's lesson and expressed excitement about learning more.