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Distinguishing Fact from Opinion and Developing Both as Editorials

Linda Allor of Capitol High School in Baton Rouge, La.

Linda Allor
Capitol High School
Baton Rouge, La.

Title: Distinguishing Fact From Opinion and Developing Both As Editorials

Louisiana’s Standards and Benchmarks Utilized: ELA1-H3, H4, H5; ELA2-H1, H2, H3; Stand. 2; ELA7-H2 (1,2,4,5)

Generative Topics:

  • Definition of fact and objectivity vs. opinion and subjectivity
  • What is critical analysis of issue writing?
  • Developing editorials as pros and cons on an issue

Overview and Rationale:

The lesson will pull from the student’s own ideas in relation to newsworthy issues. It will ask the students to form opinions from the factual evidence gotten through the interview process and research. This lesson will strengthen the student’s critical writing skills and discussion skills.

Goals For Understanding:

  • Essential Questions:
    • How do opinions affect our laws and community?
    • How does the First Amendment safeguard an editorial?
  • Critical Engagement Questions:
    • What is the issue?
    • What are the facts highlighting the issue?
    • What are the legal ramifications of printing an editorial?
    • What is the paper’s editorial stand?

Performance of Understanding Rationale and Timeline:

The students will spend one week reading, writing and discussing the editorial process.

Activity 1:

  • After taking lecture notes on the difference between fact and opinion and the formation of both, the students will list different issues of interest to them and their opinions of each one.
  • The students write an opinion statement of one to three sentences objectively using any facts they know.
  • The students write the same statement, but subjectively as pure opinion using emotional language.
  • The differences between the two statements are discussed in class with the teacher as the moderator.

Activity 2:

  • The students will be divided into groups of three.
  • Each group will be given a different newspaper article or editorial.
  • Each member of the group must form an opinion of the article in a different way i.e. subjective (emotional), objective (factual only), and critical (giving alternative judgments).
  • Each student writes an editorial based on his or her opinion from the article using his unique slant.
  • The students share their opinions with the group and prepare a presentation as to which angle would be the best one to use in the paper.

Assessment:

The students will be graded on:

  • interaction and cooperation with each other
  • reading, and writing skills
  • oral presentation skills

Recommended Resources:

  • The Advocate, the daily local newspaper
  • Classroom dictionaries
  • Johnson, Ron. "The Prairie Journalist’s Companion: Fundamentals, Tips & Trends." Kansas: Kansas State University Student Publications, 1999.

Suggested reading:

"Beyond Argument: A Handbook for Editorial Writers," Edited by Maura Casey and Michael Zuzel, National Conference of Editorial Writers, 2001.

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