Is That a Fact?
- Africa, Asia, Central America and Mexico, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, Pacific Islands, South America, The Caribbean, Botswana
- Grades 6-8
- Cross-Cultural Understanding
- 30 minutes
Students will practice distinguishing between facts and opinions, in order to better understand their own observations.
Understanding the difference between fact and opinion is critical to our ability to examine our reactions to events and people. Stereotypes and prejudices are often based on opinions that are perceived as facts. Skills practiced during this activity can be reinforced using content from textbooks, magazines, and newspapers, as well as from correspondence with your Peace Corps Volunteer if your class is participating in the World Wise Schools match program.
- Students will articulate the difference between fact and opinion.
- Students will identify ways to clarify or qualify statements of opinion.
Write three examples of facts on one side of the board and three examples of opinions on the other side of the board.
Examples of facts:
- George has blue eyes.
- This room has four windows.
- There are 50 states in the United States.
- This room is too warm.
- Math class is boring.
- The best cars are made in the United States.
- Ask students to identify the statements of fact and the statements of opinion. Label each group.
- Have students work with partners to come up with definitions for the words "fact" and "opinion." Choose a class definition, using a dictionary or a language arts textbook if necessary.
- Divide the class into groups of four or five students each. Provide each group with a copy of the worksheet "Is That a Fact?" (link above). Ask one student in each group to cut the sheet into strips as indicated. That student should "deal" the strips out to the group's members until all of the strips have been distributed.
- Have each group divide its work space into three areas, one labeled "Facts," another "Opinions," and the third "Need More Information." Have students work together to place the statements in the appropriate areas according to the definitions they agreed upon earlier.
- As you monitor the group activity, ask representatives from each group to explain how the group is deciding to place the statements. Make sure their decisions followed the agreed upon definitions for fact and opinion.
- Ask students to examine the statements in the "Need More Information" category. Have them work together to identify sources of information that would prove or disprove the statements.
When the groups have completed their work, bring the class back together to discuss the process. Use the following questions to check student understanding of the difference between fact and opinion.
- How can you tell whether something is a fact or an opinion?
- What makes it difficult to decide if something is a fact or an opinion?
- When you were working in small groups, did everyone agree on which statements were fact and which were opinion? Could any of the opinion statements be considered facts if we had more information or if the statement were more specific? (Example: When it comes to math scores, this is the best school in the whole town.)
- If you're not sure whether something is a fact, what can you do?
- Why is it important to know whether something is a fact or an opinion?
- Have students rewrite the statements identified as opinions using qualifying phrases (e.g., I think, according to the book I read) or more specific language.
- Have students watch one or more of the World Wise Schools Destination videos. Ask students to listen for and record facts and opinions as they watch. Compare responses in small groups.
- Have your students read essays by Peace Corps Volunteers or other pieces of writing to find examples of facts and opinions. Check the World Wise Schools online resources for letters from Peace Corps Volunteers.