Year 7’s often struggle with Reading for Bias so I spend two sessions on this topic – starting with a basic session looking at Fact and Opinion, followed by this session on Reading for Bias.
We start this session with a quick look back at the previous lesson on Fact and Opinion- reminding them why the question of “Which is the best college in the Academy” causes such disagreement!
I then read them a story called “The Wolf’s Story” by Toby Forward (ISBN: 978 1406301625)
This book tells the Wolf’s side of the story or what really happened to little red riding hood.
Or does it?
Can YOU trust a wolf?
We then answer some critical questions about the story – Is the author / wolf biased? Is it one sided? Are all points of view included? Are bits of the story missing or changed?
We decide that we can’t trust this source so we need to read for bias, and look for accounts from the other sides of the story – Little Red, the axe/woodsman; Grandma and Little Red’s Mother (What did she put in that basket?).
We have some great discussions about the different versions of the story, and the origins of the story, which as a fairy tale has its’ roots firmly in the oral tradition of storytelling, which can end up being a bit like chinese whispers.
I end the session with a short video about Wikipedia and a discussion about how students need to check information found on Wikipedia with other more reliable sources. We then discuss why Wikipedia needs to be ‘read with a questioning mind’, and why we need to check other sources such as Britannica encylopedia. Looking briefly at the editorial process and peer review.
Year 7’s often struggle with Reading for Bias so I spend two sessions on this topic – starting with a basic session looking at Fact and Opinion.
Firstly I hand out two slips of card with the letter “F” and “O” written on them and remind them about the different types of reading and the one that is most often forgotten is Reading for Bias.
So what does the letter “F” and “O” have to do with reading for bias?
Some groups need a little bit more prompting or clues than others with many sounding confident with their initial answer of “For and Against… Oh that’s wrong.”
We then talk about the differences between Facts and Opinions, and about how you can prove or measure facts but opinions are what someone thinks.
The hard bit is when a writer (of a newspaper article or a webpage) uses both together – that’s when you need to read carefully looking for bias.
I put a series of statements onto the screen and the students need to decide if it is a fact (can be proved/measured) or an opinion (what someone thinks), they then hold up their “F” card if they think the statement is a fact, or the “O” card if they think it is an opinion.
The fun begins when statements such as…
Coca-cola tastes better than Pepsi
McDonald’s burgers taste better than Burger Kings
They tend to be better at spotting a fact – but get misled when they agree with the opinion.
The last statement causes the biggest stir…
Why do so many agree with this opinion (no really it is an opinion!) – could they possibly be biased?
They then have a go at writing three facts and opinions – about themselves, their best friend and their home.
The last topic is the one that fools them the most with ‘facts’ such as “my house is big” and I often ask them what the Queen would think if she visited their home!
Since Skimming and Scanning are often muddled up by students this session concentrates of these two reading techniques, by giving them practical activities to do.
Skimming – a fast reading technique to get a quick idea what a book; website; chapter or page is about. (General Impression).
I give the students two skimming activities by asking them to skim read by looking for clues (headings, titles, or pictures), then I put a page on the screen for 5 seconds and ask them what the whole page was about.
Scanning – another quick reading technique – this time looking for an answer to a question. Tip – make sure you understand the question. Is is a Who, What, Where, When or Where question as this affects the answer you are looking for. (Number, Place name etc).
I have 15 questions about a job advert and give one question to each pair of students. Then make sure they understand their question before putting the job advert on screen for 30 -60 seconds (depending upon the ability of the group). Students need to scan the advert for their answer.
Having done both types of these fast reading techniques the students gain a better understanding of the differences and why they might read in these ways.
The latest Information Literacy session is an introductory session looking at different types of reading.
I demonstrate five types of reading:
Scanning : I scan for a fact (phone number)using a telephone directory
Skimming : I have covered a book about “Earth Sciences” in plain paper, I then flick through and skim read the chapter headings and the students have to work out what the book is about
Detailed Reading : I sit down and demonstrate reading for understanding, and make notes in the process
Reading for Bias : I show and read out an advert. Then discuss selling an ‘idea’ rather than just a product.
finally my favourite type of reading…
Reading for pleasure : I sit, relax and read my current reading material (Carnegie Long LIst books at the moment.
I then put the class into small groups and they are given four sets of cards. One set has the name of the type of reading, a second set why we would use that type of reading, the third set describes how we would read, and the fourth set is a picture clue. The groups have to match the cards for each type of reading.
Common mistakes every year are the muddling of Skimming and Scanning, and confusion over Bias. But we have a closer look at these in later sessions…..