Formation of own opinion
Learning how to form opinions and support them with evidence from the book is an important skill for young readers to master. The Opinions organizer is one tool to help your children learn to make opinions and organize their thinking.
Forming opinions is a skill that also helps learners with their reading comprehension. It’s important to teach students how to think about their reading, and part of that is showing them how to form opinions about what they’ve read.
It is essential that students are able to accurately distinguish between fact and opinion. To do this successfully students must begin with solid definitions of the two concepts. Once this has been achieved, students must gain practice applying these definitions through activities that engage with a wide range of reading material.
Fact – A fact generally refers to something that is true and can be verified as such. That is, a fact is something that can be proven to be true.
Opinion – An opinion refers to a personal belief. It relates to how someone feels about something. Others may agree or disagree with an opinion, but they cannot prove or disprove it. This is what defines it as opinion.
The Language of Opinion: Signal Words and Phrases
The language used to introduce a statement can be helpful in indicating whether it is being framed as a fact or an opinion.
● He claimed that…
● It is the officer’s view that…
● The report argues that…
● Many scientists suspect that…
Using Graphic Organizers
Graphic organizers are a great tool to help students sort the facts and opinions in a text. Offering, as they do, a very visual means of organizing information, graphic organizers help students drill their ability to distinguish between the two types of statement until they become automatic.
Let’s take a look at one particularly useful format for developing this skill:
The Fact and Opinion Chart
This simple chart consists of two columns helpfully labelled fact and opinion beneath a topic heading. Students work their way through a piece of text, sorting statements as they come across them into the appropriate column on the graphic organizer. At the end of this task they will be left with a clear segregation of the statements of the text according to whether they are objective fact or subjective opinion.
Fact and Opinion Activities: Honing the Skills
To become a skilled, critical reader a student must develop the ability to quickly evaluate a text for fact and opinion. To achieve this, they must practice distinguishing between fact and opinion to a point where it becomes a subconscious mechanism. The activities below will afford your students these necessary opportunities. They can also easily be adapted to a range of ages and abilities through careful selection of the reading material.
1. Top 10 Facts and Opinions
Not only does this simple activity help students hone their fact and opinion detecting abilities, it also serves as a great warm-up research activity when beginning a new topic in class.
When starting a new topic, whether on an historical period, a literary figure, or a species of animal, set students the task of listing ten facts and opinions from their background reading and research on their new topic. Students must then form and list ten opinions on the topic based on reflection on this initial reading and research.
It may also be a useful exercise for students to look back over their opinions at the end of the topic. Have they changed their opinion in any areas of the topic? Why did they change, or maintain, their opinion? This can work as a great review activity to wrap things up.