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POV/Bias Detection Lesson

Social Studies Lessons for High School is designed for social studies teachers to use with their government and history courses. It was developed in response to a shift in education throughout our country: a move away from rote memorization and toward the critical thinking skills necessary for many of the new performance assessment programs.

Each lesson will enable teachers to teach seven specific critical thinking skills in a step-by-step process. The information has been adapted for old media and new media formats. Web sites will be provided that will allow teachers to choose the most appropriate resource for the selected activity. All selections can be copied for classroom use. Teachers may adapt activities to allow students to complete assignments via the web.

Bob Black is former Teachers Network web mentor. He is a social studies teacher at the Harbor City Learning Center, located across the street from the historic Edgar Allen Poe House  in Baltimore, MD.


Students will analyze legislation designed to protect the rights of individuals and groups and promote equity in American society.

Students will recognize bias, vested interests, stereotyping, manipulation, and misuse of information.

Lesson Objectives Students will be able to:
Analyze an editorial's point of view and determine how to detect bias. 
Practice bias detecting techniques by writing an editorial of their own. 
Research contemporary controversial issues on individual and group rights and detect any bias in the writing.

Generate a class discussion:
Do you believe everything you hear? Read?
Have you ever heard the terms "slanted" or "biased?" What do they mean?
Are there ways to detect the truth or a lie?

Lesson Procedures
  • Distribute the editorial and the Point of View/Detecting Bias Template Sheet for students to complete. Review student responses.

  • Have students rewrite the editorial from the author's point of view inserting more biased statements, or have the students write from the opposite point of view including biased statements. Have students exchange papers with a partner and try to detect the bias.

  • Group students into pairs or trios. Have students use newspapers, magazine articles, or the Internet to locate opinions about controversial topics involving the rights of individuals and groups. Topics might include Roe v. Wade, hate crime legislation, gun control/school violence, affirmative action.

  • Have students read an article and complete the Point of View/Detecting Bias Template Sheet for that article. Have the groups share their results with the rest of the class.

Summary I Assessment
Have students listen to/view radio or television programs (talk radio, news commentaries, news/magazine? type shows) on their topics. Have them write a review of the show identifying examples of biased information in the report.


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