Adapting to the new core has been a good challenge. Teachers in my school have always pushed informational reading strategies, but I feel this takes it up a level. Reading to find whether a conflict is grounded in differing facts or differing interpretations of fact is an essential skill for any literate adult. It's also a skill that takes some time and instruction to develop.
First, I made sure my students understood the difference between fact and opinion. In my classroom, an opinion is described as an interpretation of facts, so I consider "interpretation" and "opinion" to be interchangeable. Let me reframe the standard to make it a bit simpler: find texts with conflicting views on the same subject and determine whether the conflict centers on fact or opinion. Depending on the texts, it could be either or both, so students should have multiple opportunities to practice this skill.
Here are the texts I have used so far:
The Holt Literature textbook has two great pieces for this purpose: a Union Pacific Railroad poster selling the Nebraska plains to the pioneers, and "Home, Sweet Soddie" by Flo Ota De Lange. Students read and compare both in order to answer the question, which is more objective? Students should recognize that the poster is cherry-picking or reframing the facts to make the opportunity sound more appealing. This is a case where the conflict arises because the authors are presenting different facts.
Students have been told a lot about why they should or should not use Wikipedia. Argue the proper use of Wikipedia after reading three articles that provide conflicting viewpoints.
"Snared in the web of a Wikipedia liar" from New York Times
"In an effort to boost reliability, Wikipedia looks to experts" from Wall Street Journal
"Is Wikipedia a Victim of Its Own Success?" from Time Magazine
Students should note the timeline of the articles presented: the "Wikipedia liar" article is from 2005, and the more recent articles focus on the change Wikipedia has made to boost reliability.
Examine out-of-context quotes about Abraham Lincoln, or any US president. (Link to my overhead about Lincoln here) I use this as an anticipation guide/lesson starter for a discussion of how a limited scope of facts leads to bias.
The supplementary materials for the Holt Literature book also have two articles about Captain James Cook. One is praises Captain Cook, and deliberately glosses over some of his violent actions towards his crew and native islanders. The second is more objective, although it presents pretty much the same information. I had students highlight facts and opinions, and then explain which treatment was more objective and why. I asked them to specifically analyze how the first article used or rephrased facts to support his interpretation of Cook as a hero.
For their final mastery assessment, I'm having students read articles about Benedict Arnold**. One, ""Without Arnold, Revolution Would Have Been Lost" by Bill Stanley" argues that Arnold is more hero than traitor. The other, "Hidden History of the American Revolution: Part IV: The Traitor" from Boys' Life clearly paints him as a traitor, and only an incidental hero. This is, I feel, a perfect example of texts presenting the same facts with conflicting interpretations. Here is the entire assignment I gave my students: http://www.edubrooke.com/docs112/benedictarnold.htm.
**I focus on history texts because they complement the 8th grade Social Studies curriculum.
Link to English/Language Arts Common Core here: http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards/english-language-arts-standards