To open the lesson I wanted to start with a relevant text that they could create fact and opinion examples. I also wanted the text to be interesting and have some good discussion points. I used the epilogue to our Columbus book as our reading piece. The section explained and gave examples of all of the ways Columbus' name has been used or celebrated. It discussed cities, schools, and holidays. It also gave us aloof at how the misconception of him discovering America came to be.
We read the four pages together and stopped often to check for understanding. I would ask the class to restate, in their own words, what we had just read. I want them to start thinking about what we have read and to begin forming one thoughts on the topics presented. The constant checks for understanding will help students participate in the next part of the lesson, student led discussion.
Student led discussions can be a very fun thing to observe and listen to. Recently we had a couple of new students and my class was telling them all about our room and the fun things we did. One of my students explained the student led discussion and told our new classmates how fun they are. He also added that it was so cool to agree and disagree with each other. This was a winning moment for me and really emphasized their excitement for the process.
I ask the class to close their books and get ready to talk. I open with a reminder on good discussion rules: listen openly, be respectful, use agree and disagree, and make sure to use evidence. I also remind them that they will be calling on each other. When one student has finished with what they have to say they call on the next student to make their point. This keeps it moving without my influence.
The question I really wanted to focus on was on how learning about Columbus and what we now have learned can help us today. I thought that they needed to start with a warm up question to get them ready to discuss the topic I chose. The warm up question: What do you think of Columbus being a celebrated person of history? This was a great way to get them going. They made great points about the good and bad. To get them focused on the critical question I planned, I asked what they think of Columbus being credited with discovering America. This got them talking and moving right where I wanted. They could them discuss how we can we use history to help us today and also how we need to learn for ourselves.
They are now ready for Fact and Opinion. I ask them to use a scratch piece of paper to draw a T Chart. I ask them to label one side fact and the other opinion. I ask them to define what is a fact and what is an opinion. They have a good grasp on these words and I felt they were ready to move to the chart. I double check by stating random examples and having them hour back fact or opinion for the comment I made.
To fill in the chart, I explain that we are going to use what we have read in our book to form facts and opinions. I need to model this first, so I start by restating a fact about Washington DC being named after Washington and Columbus. I then model an opinion by stating that Queen Isabella was a pretty and nice monarch.
Now it's their turn, as a class we begin to fill in the T Chart. I ask them to create their facts and opinions. Quickly I realize that creating opinions from the text are more difficult. It is here where I had to model and guide them through this process more. It only takes a couple of extra modeling examples, and they have it. I help them fill out three facts and three opinions. They need to fill in a fourth for each side. I then choose a couple of students to share what they came up with.
To check student's understanding of fact and opinion I want them to do an independent practice sheet to assess. I will use it not only as a check, but also to determine if further teaching is needed. I might have to reteach the lesson to a small group of students.