Teaching students to understand the differences between fact and opinion is essential. This is a tested skill. More importantly, helping students to correctly evaluate information will help them make informed life choices. For example, the news is full of campaign ads. Sorting facts from opinions helps people vote intelligently.
Also, the Internet has opened up vast sources of information. Learning to distinguish what is true is of vital importance. Studies show that teens are sharing more and more information about themselves online. This information can even lead to cyber bullying. Teens need to sort out what is true.
So, where do teachers begin?
A fact is a proven piece of information. Facts are things that happened in the past or are happening now. Facts can be supported by evidence. Nonfiction genres focus on facts and opinions.
Examples of Facts:
Five percent of Alaska is covered by glaciers.
Alaska has more coastline than the rest of the United States combined.
Alaska’s nickname is “The Last Frontier.”
An opinion is a belief, judgment, or way of thinking about something. It is what someone thinks about a particular subject or object. The fiction genre focuses on opinions.
Examples of Opinions:
Catching salmon, crab, and halibut in Alaska is a great sport.
One of the best reasons to move to Alaska is it has no poison ivy.
Due to the long summer days, Alaska’s cabbage is unsurpassed.
Note: Opinions can be used as evidence because they can be supported by facts.
Example of a Supported Opinion
Many mushers consider Togo not Balto to be the true hero during the Great Race of Mercy. Togo traveled 350 miles compared to Balto’s 53 miles. Togo’s run included crossing ice along the shoreline and climbing 5,000 feet up Little McKinley Mountain…
One hot debate is preferences. A preference is a feeling of liking or wanting one person or thing more than another person or thing. Some feel that preferences fall in the opinion category. Others argue that preferences are a category unto themselves.
Examples of Preferences:
I would rather live in Florida where it is hot than in Alaska where it is cold.
Eating moose meat is disgusting.
I think Denali is the most beautiful peak in North America.
Ways to Recognize the Differences Between a Fact and Opinion
#1 – Words that show extreme positives or negatives are clues of opinions.
everyone, never, most, always, nobody, ever, all, really, none, very
#2 – Descriptive words are subjective. Sentences with descriptive words are opinions.
beautiful, ugly, smart, foolish, joyful, lucky, gloomy
#3 – Language intended to appeal to emotions is opinionated. Read this example of an emotional appeal.
Have you ever driven down a road and seen all the garbage alongside the road? People should wake up and realize how much this harms the environment. The unsightly mess contains toxic substances that damage the earth and kill wildlife….
This flowchart was adapted from the one found here.
Educlips created the compass clip art used on this anchor chart. It can be found here. This anchor chart includes tips to recognize facts from opinions.
Sarah Percorino’s ‘Dot Dudes’ can be found here.
Fact and Opinion Online Activities
- K5 Learning offers an online lesson. This one is tagged for second graders.
- PBS Kids provides Binky’s Facts and Opinions.
- Room Recess offers this Fact or Opinion activity.
- Quia is a great place for online activities. Check out this Fact or Opinion game.
- Scholastic has a printable chart with opinion clues.
- Internet 4 Classrooms has a page of links to activities.
- Word Game Time has a Fact or Opinion game.
- Rachel Lynette lists “Ten Ideas for Teaching Fact and Opinion.”
- Play Jeopardy.
- Check out Freddy Flashes‘ links.
- Find Facts and Opinion Games here.
Help students identify facts from opinions with this organizer. Students write the definitions and examples. Differentiate instruction using the three provided versions. Click here to download the activity.