Posted by Christy Williams on March 22nd, 2016
The processing of information is an important component of studying and learning. When students process new information presented to them, it is important to be able to identify whether the information is a fact or an opinion. Learning how to separate fact from opinion is an important skill that is evaluated on high school equivalency (HSE) tests.
Below are some tips that will help your students learn to separate fact from opinion.
State a Clear Definition of ‘Fact’ and ‘Opinion’
Before anything else, the terms ‘fact’ and ‘opinion’ need to be clearly defined to your students. Some of them might not actually know how to differentiate the two terms. Simply put, a ‘fact’ is something that is true and can be proven. An ‘opinion’ is subjective and reflects a belief or view; descriptive words indicate an opinion.
Provide a Checklist
Redefining ‘fact’ and ‘opinion into a checklist can make it easier for students grasp the difference between the two. Ask them to go through this checklist whenever they encounter an ambiguous statement.
- Can be proven
- Real for all people and places
- Can be observed
- 100% true
- Cannot be proven
- Might be real for some people, but not to others
- Refers to feelings, thoughts, views, estimates, beliefs
- Not 100% true
Give LOTS of Examples
Present various factual statements and statements that are based on opinions. Discuss what makes each statement a fact or an opinion.
Identify Usual Sources of Facts and Opinions
Once students have a good grasp of what makes a statement fact or opinion, ask them to identify the usual sources of facts and opinions such as dictionaries, almanacs, text books, and encyclopedias for facts and novels, journals, reviews, and autobiographies for opinions.
Dissect a Newspaper
Newspapers have a good mix of both facts and opinions. Ask your students to read a newspaper and identify statements that are based on facts and opinions.
The internet provides a huge source of information today. Ask your students to practice their skills by going to a Twitter account of a popular celebrity, politician, or news channel. Go through the tweets and ask them to differentiate which tweets are facts and opinions.
Make a Statement
Give your students a starting phrase for a statement and ask them to complete it in two ways – one to make it a fact and another to make it an opinion.
Coupled with an ongoing discussion about fact vs. opinion, the aforementioned strategies are effective ways to teach students how to recognize and analyze facts and opinions. Relate your discussions to the students’ lives and current news as much as possible.