Strategies for Empowering Students

  • To help students understand the difference between factual information and information that is opinionated
  • To encourage students to become critical readers and listeners
  • To foster the integration of content-area subjects

  • Use of metacognitive skills
  • Development of listening, reading, and thinking skills
  • Integration of skills and content-area subjects

  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • Character Development

Discuss the difference between information that is factual and information that is someone's opinion. Have a dialogue about articles in the newspaper or on television newscasts. Ask students if they believe everything they read in print or hear on radio and television. Why or why not?

Discuss the terms fact and opinion. Solicit examples of what students consider a fact and what they consider an opinion. Ask how they determine which is fact or opinion.

Distribute the fact/opinion chart. Have students use the suggested statements listed or ones they generated to complete it. The last column, "How do you know?" must have references if the statement has been determined to be a fact. In other words, students must prove the statement is true by naming their source of information. They must list the book, such as the encyclopedia, with page numbers, or other sources used as proof. If the statement is judged to be an opinion, the students must tell why they think so.


Suggested Statements

  • All dogs will bite.

  • Only cats make good pets.

  • The earth revolves around or circles the moon.

  • Galileo Galilei discovered Saturn's rings.

  • 4956 x 387 = 1,917,972

  • Acid rain is harmful to the environment.

  • Joan of Arc was a young French soldier who was burned at the stake.

  • 2,968,528 - 1,275,534 = 1,692,994

  • The Pteranodon was a dinosaur with wings.

  • Radium was discovered by a woman.

  • Daniel Hale Williams was a famous African American doctor.

  • Anne Frank was a young German Jewish girl who died during the Holocaust.

  • Miguel Hidalgo organized the poor Indians of Mexico to fight the Spaniards.
After students have completed their charts, they will share their findings with the class, explaining how they researched the information on facts and how they determined which statements were opinions. Have questions and challenges from the class on statements that everyone does not agree with.

  • How did students exhibit their understanding of the difference between a fact and an opinion?

  • Were students' critical thinking, reading, and listening skills enhanced? How was this enhancement demonstrated?

  • How did students exhibit their ability to do research?

  • Did this activity help to increase students' knowledge base? How was this demonstrated?


Excerpted from Beyond Rhetoric and Rainbows: A Journey to the Place Where Learning Lives ©1996 University of Illinois Extension.