Lesson 13

Generally Speaking, Generalizations Can Generally be Confusing

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SWBAT identify a generalization in text.

Big Idea

In order to spot lies or inaccuracies in text, you have to understand generalizations.


In order to unpack many of the informational reading standards, I like to teach making generalizations. Since starting Common Core in 2010, I've noticed that's one area that gives my kids a hard time. When asked to find evidence to support points or even to quote the text to explain concepts, they take generalizations too literally and can't tell when they are faulty. This throws off a lot of understanding for them. Our 4th grade teaches generalizations, so I like to review the concept quickly and jump right into identifying valid and faulty generalizations. I like that this ties into valid and faulty evidence as well. This also helps me in my writing unit when we talk about backing up our arguments with strong evidence. Most times, generalizations are not strong evidence, and we try to back up arguments with facts and data.  This piece of reading gave some good background about the relationship between conclusions and generalizations. 


5 minutes

 To kick of the lesson for today, I'm going to have a student read a series of statements to the kids. The students will move to one side of the room if they agree with the statement or move to another side of the room if they disagree. I like to include movement when I can to get them up and try to make reading more interesting and fun. This can be a tough subject to make hands-on, so I work in movement when I can. 

Everyone loves chocolate. Once students move, I'll ask why they agree or disagree with the statement. This won't be about teaching generalizations, but will just get the kids thinking about how we can agree or disagree on these topics. I'm hoping they'll pick up on the words always, some, and everyone. 

Girls always get their nails painted

Some boys play with trucks

Kids are always noisy

What did you notice overall about how many students agreed with the statements? Was there a statement where all of the students moved to the same spot in the room? 

Each time I've done this lesson, all students always agree with the statement some boys play with trucks. Without explicitly teaching it, the students pick up on the word some. I like to keep prompting them to think about how much these ideas change just by slightly changing the words. 

What happens if I say SOME kids are always noisy? Would you all agree then?  


15 minutes

To start off today, we're going to do a quick review of generalizations. The statements you just agreed or disagreed with were all generalizations. These are statements that are very broad and apply to MANY examples. You may have worked with these in 4th grade, so we'll just review these and then practice more with them by thinking about valid and faulty generalizations. 

If I say everyone likes ice cream because I always see the ice cream shops filled with people, then I am making a generalization. Is it completely true? Good generalizations are based on evidence and truth. In these lessons, we're going to learn how to make and recognize valid generalizations and avoid the faulty ones. Does it seem like generalizations are related to viewpoints?  1s tell 2s your thoughts on this. Then 2s share with 1s. Be ready to report thoughts in a minute.

I want the kids to connect viewpoints and generalizations. They really go hand in hand and both really need to be proven or backed up with strong evidence. I want the kiddos to understand that we have to be really careful about what we read and generalizations can be tricky. They can lead the reader to believe things that entirely false, so I want my kids to be able to first know what they are, and second, spot fallacies. I grabbed a power point from teachers pay teachers for this. It's not free, but it was well made for 5th grade. Here is a decent free PDF from the internet. I'm not getting into the valid vs. faulty information today, though. That will happen in the next lesson.

To help us remember the word generalization and better understand what it is, we'll use a frayer model as we look through the power point slides today. While we review the information, be sure to think about how we can fill out this information. We'll review the frayer once we finish up the slides. 

I like the frayer models to help organize the information surrounding the vocabulary word. I use these a lot, especially with domain specific words. Not only is it visual, it gets the kids thinking in a way that helps them remember the word. Of course, it's not magic, so the kids will need to use the word often to truly remember the meaning. These are always kept in the interactive notebooks to serve as a reference for the kids. 

Group Work

10 minutes

For some group practice today, I'm going to use pdf pages 25-27 of this document. I found this workbook online and although it's social studies based, it works perfectly for this lesson. We're going to start off together, and I'll be stopping the kids to check in often. The activity has them reading a passage, placing characteristics of the north and south in a Venn Diagram, making generalizations based on that information and then answering some questions. I don't think my kids can work through all of that alone. 

 Let's first do a close read of the reading selection today. I just want you to read with our usual interactive notes to get a feel for what we're reading and build some background. Then we'll get together and break this down.