Introducing the Truth Ideal
to Students

The Truth Module aims to develop students' understanding and appreciation of the complexities of truth, while deepening content learning. Uncovering what students' already know about truth makes a good beginning. It gives both you and them insights about where they are. How they judge truth and their awareness of various types of truth situations reveals a lot to build on throughout the module.

Thinking about Thinking Activities

These initial activities ask students to identify their current ideas and thinking about truth. Students typically have a lot of intuitive familiarity with truth and problems of truth. They know rumors can be misleading, people can deceive, and so on. These activities will let them bring those and other ideas to the surface for individual reflection, group discussion, and your own instructional pre-assessment.

You can use one or all of these initial Thinking about Thinking activities. While the order isn't critical, many teachers like to start with the concept map activity to uncover students' ideas before any discussion and then maybe add another. Some teachers have casually tried out a Truth Ideal routine once or twice even before these Thinking about Thinking activities, just to get students going.

A Concept Map of Truth. How do we know when something is true or false or uncertain? Why is truth important, and where? What stands in the way of truth? What do you do when you need to investigate the truth of something? This introductory activity raises such questions by asking students to construct their own concept maps of truth individually. These then feed into class discussion and/or the construction of a larger, whole-class concept map.

The Truth Thermometer The activity asks students to generate examples of situations where the truth seemed uncertain, rate how much so, and explain why. While this probe in group form involves writing, it can be done very successfully as a one-on-one interview with a student. Although interviews are very time consuming, primary teachers might want to consider doing a few interviews to see what they reveal about students' thinking.

A Truth Discussion: Sometimes it's hard to know... This activity is designed as a way to collect data on students' thinking about truth, their strategies for figuring out if something is true, and what questions they might have about truth through an open-ended discussion. This works well with younger students or when you don't want to use a written task. The challenge is to create a record of the conversation to refer back to it later and reflect back on what kinds of things students brought up in the discussion


Introducing the Truth Map

After you've uncovered students' initial ideas, questions, and understandings, you'll want to present the Truth Map to the class. The map includes five areas and key moves for solving the puzzle of truth, briefly: clarify the issue, review the facts and uncertainties, evaluate evidence, consider different perspectives, and draw best conclusions. As a class, feel free to add specific tips and questions to any of the five areas.

The map becomes both a visual and conceptual anchor for you and your students throughout the module by identifying the key thinking moves for truth. The Truth routines all relate to the Truth Map.

You can print and copy the Truth Map for your students to start with. However, it's good for a big version to appear in the classroom. Many teachers and students have used the words from the Truth Map but made their own classroom-size rendition of the truth map in their own style, using poster paper or other resources

Here's one way you can present the Truth Map. Connect it to students' ideas and thoughts about truth that emerged from their own truth concept maps. Tell students that these five areas represent some key actions people take when they are grappling with issues of truth. Additional strategies and actions can also be useful. You may want to ask students to think about how their ideas link to the five areas of the Truth Map.

Tell students that you will post the map on the wall so that they and you can refer to it often. Tell students that you will be talking about truth and using the map in future lessons.