Smithsonian

Fact, Fiction: Step One

Write the following terms on the board: bias, motive, immediacy, accuracy, and reliability. Ask students to try writing a definition or explanation of each. Share students’ definitions. Discuss and clarify.

Begin a class discussion about what happened when the actor came into the classroom during the previous class period. Record students’recollections on the board.

Hand out the index cards collected at the time of the “event.” Ask several students to share what they wrote on their cards. As a class, consider the following questions:

  • Do the accounts on the cards differ from the recollections listed on the board?
  • Do the accounts differ from student to student?
  • What are the differences?
  • What might be the reasons for the differences?

Ask students to consider how the terms defined at the beginning of the class apply to their answers to these questions. Explain that the reliability of any source, primary or secondary, is dependent upon bias, motive, immediacy, and accuracy.