Digital Fluency Students Think Critically About Difference Between “Fact,” “Opinion,” and “Informed Opinion”
What is the difference between a “fact,” “opinion,” and “informed opinion”? This was the question posed to seventh graders in Liz Storch’s digital fluency class.
The boys split into small groups to brainstorm definitions for each term and created a chart breaking down their definitions which they presented to the class and discussed as a group.
Afterwards, Ms. Storch handed out sample sentences and the class debated whether each sentence was “fact,” “opinion,” or “informed opinion.” The difference between these categories is not always easily distinguished, as our boys soon found out. They had to carefully consider the specific language used in each sentence and think critically about how this word choice impacted the overall truth of the statement. For example, the boys were given the following sentence to analyze:
Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer of all time because he has won more Olympic medals for swimming than anyone else in history.
Students were torn over this statement, inciting lively debate. Ultimately, they came to the consensus that this is “informed opinion.” One boy honed in on the phrase “of all time.”
“There is no way to know if he is the best swimmer of all time,” said the “informed opinion” advocate, “because we don’t have records that stretch back to the beginning of time.” However, students pointed out, this opinion was informed because the sentence included the fact that Phelps had “won more Olympic medals for swimming than anyone else in history.”
To conclude class, Ms. Storch asked her class why they thought this discussion is important. Said one boy, “We need to know this to better navigate sources we read to know if they are accurate because they contain facts to support them.” Another boy pointed out that it is important to know whether the source you are reading is biased.