Thursday, January 16, 2014

Time to Pass It On! Understanding Fact & Opinion {Part 1}

Now that the first week back from a nice long winter break is behind all of us, my students are getting back into the swing of things.

When I taught 4th grade, this was a HUGE part of reading.  Now, it always seems like my students come to 5th grade and regurgitate the definition they learn in 4th grade of both.

"Fact: something that is true and can be proven," AND
"Opinion: something that is false or what some one thinks."

Sigh. Then, I fight them when they try to disprove all facts just because they don't agree with them. If a fact isn't something they believe, it is automatically wrong.  Oy vey.  

I hate it when these things have spelling errors.  :-)  But it's still funny.

Last year and this year, I pushed myself and my students to really get past those definitions and start seeing fact and opinion for what they are.  We rephrased and rethought out what each one truly means.

Something I realized on my own last year through discussions with my kids was, facts can be disproven too. But when you do disprove it, you have stumbled upon a fact.  It took a couple days for my kids to let this seep in since they had been programmed to think only facts can be proven.  I challenge you to add this to your repertoire, facts can't be changed and opinions can change because it is what people feel, think, and believe.  

I literally stumbled upon this thought process last year as I was right in the middle of teaching opinions to my 5th graders.  Don't you love it when that happens?  But they just couldn't fathom opinions could be proven too...until I told them they CAN be, and it is how we KNOW they are opinions...because people can change them, as many times as they want.  My students gave me a run for my money and really made me prove my teaching.  

When this all came up last year, I went home and scoured online to find a fact and opinion lesson that would allow me to get them to practice this whole idea in a more interactive, tricky, and fun way.  So, I bring you this lesson I found here through Beacon Learning Center and Laura Ayers from Bay District Schools.  Don't get put off by the "Day 5" bit though.  I didn't use all parts of this lesson, but you can definitely take a looksy yourself in case you'd like to.

After picking through, I definitely DUG starting with the whole broccoli thing...even though I had full intentions of bringing broccoli, I didn't.  So, I just started with my cheesy acting chops and told them in my most confident voice, "I'm sure all of you like broccoli, because it is so nutritious."  Check out the looks on their faces when you say this!  Just by asking people who made a sourpuss face at me to raise their hand if they disagreed showed my entire class right away that I was completely and utterly wrong!

Then I told them, "Maybe I should have just asked you guys who likes broccoli.  If all of you had raised your hand, then I would have been certain you all like broccoli."

Through this I created quite a stir, so we put together our new fangled definitions to get away from those regurgitated versions!  I got them to brainstorm words that signal opinions as well.  At first, they threw the typical words at me such as favorite, think, etc.

Once we got comfortable with this new idea and the signal words, I got them out of their seats for Kagan's Four Corners.  I threw up the sentence frame, "I believe ________ ice cream is the best because..." and labeled the four corners vanilla, chocolate, cookies and cream, and mint chip.  Through discussion, they shared their opinion and why they felt so strongly about their flavor.  They were definitely getting warmed up to this idea!  Next up, I asked them "I think _______ is the best video game because..." and labeled the corners Candy Crush, Grand Theft Auto, Black Ops, and Tetris.  Once they discussed their strong feelings, we had a nice laugh at how old I am since none of them had ever played Tetris, only heard about it through some form of ancient communication.  Sigh.  

What else did I love about this Four Corners activity?  They could easily see by looking around the room their opinion wasn't a fact for everyone.  Score!  Oh...and I couldn't believe there were only 3 Candy Crush fans.  

To wrap up our fact and opinion filled morning, I pulled up a quick Time For Kids article and asked them to complete an exit ticket slip.  They had to give one fact they located in the text and form an opinion about that fact.  It seemed to be rough going for them when it came to forming an opinion in this way.

See Part 2 of this post HERE

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our fact and opinion lesson...where we watch a super old 1989 animated video and improve opinions with the use of facts after watching a Discovery Education video on tornadoes!