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So What's the Difference?
Distinguishing between fact and opinion can be challenging for students, especially since facts and opinions are so often mixed in all forms of media. To begin to foster an understanding, share with your students the meaning of a fact. Explain that a fact is something we can look up and check. Facts are absolute and don't change according to what someone believes. An opinion is much more subjective. Opinions about a certain subject can vary greatly from person to person depending on their background, culture, and belief system. Display some fact or opinion examples on the board and ask the students to decide whether or not the statement has ideas that can be checked to be fact, or if the statement is someone's opinion.
Use a variety of media to demonstrate fact and opinion. An online encyclopedia or dictionary could give some good examples of opinion, while an editorial clip from a local newspaper might provide a good example of opinion. Find several sources of each and read out loud to the students. Point out what about each particular writing makes it a fact or opinion piece.
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A Home Run of a Game
Before playing this game, write statements that are either fact or opinion examples on index cards. Draw a baseball diamond on the board, and use two different colors to show progress of the game by each team.
This game is easy to play with students. Divide the class into two groups. The teacher will read a statement and in each group, individual students will take turns "at bat" answering whether the statement is an example of a fact or someone's opinion. With each correct answer, the batter goes to first base, and those on first, second, and third base move to the next base. Once someone goes home, the team scores. When a batter answers incorrectly, it is an out--not a strike. (keeps the game moving) Each team plays until there are 3 outs. Then the other team is up to bat. Play until the first team reaches 10 points or for a set number of innings.
This game is most appropriate for grades 3-6.