Have you ever been working in a small group or administering a test and students raise their hands to ask, “what does it mean to provide text evidence?” I always tell my students, “that’s how we prove our answer. Text evidence is our proof.” Then I realized, after repeating this over and over, I need to take the time to really explore and teach text evidence directly.
There are so many important skills that our kids need to learn with respect to reading comprehension such as retelling, author’s purpose, main idea, sequencing, summarizing, theme, characters traits, etc. When reflecting and responding to the questions surrounding these skills students are always asked to provide text evidence to support their claims.
In order for us to expect thorough responses, we need to create an understanding of what text evidence really means, the vocabulary to respond effectively, and time to practice these foundational skills.
With that in mind, I decided to create a series of resources on text evidence, organized into mini-lessons that will help your students practice skills and application. Each lesson includes a few extensions surrounding the skill and theme.
Text Evidence Mini-Lesson
I think teaching text evidence with both nonfiction and fiction is important. For this mini-lesson, I chose the realistic fiction text, “Blizzard,” by John Rocco. It’s a fun story based on the author’s experiences, through a child’s lens, during the blizzard of 1978.
How to Teach Text Evidence
Before the lesson begins, I make sure I have my mentor posters displayed and typically a copy next to me that I can refer to while my students are seated with me on the carpet or on the document camera. Some of my favorite mentor posters are included in my text evidence freebie resource. I also suggest going through the book ahead of time to select some questions you could ask the kids. I would select 5 questions.
When you gather with your students, remind them that they will be given questions in which they need to not only answer but be able to prove their answer is right by using text evidence.
I provide questions before I read, especially when I am reading for a specific purpose of comprehension. You can post the questions on the board or on simple sticky notes at the carpet so kids can see. Read the story. Assign a student, group, or partners to specific questions. Have them use one of the sentence starters (included in the freebie) to answer the question using text evidence.
Distribute sticky notes to write answers to place under questions on board or have groups just share out. Remind the group/students of what they are responsible for answering. Make sure they know that they will have to provide evidence or proof of when they saw that in the story. I suggest rereading the text so kids can look for those page numbers or specific phrases.
Once you have practiced this with your students you can distribute the Text Evidence RACE (Respond, Answer, Cite, Explain) worksheet (provided in freebie) to practice formally responding with text evidence. I would choose one question, and all go through the worksheet together as a class, so students can polish up their responses with support and confidence. Make sure to have the Text Evidence Sentence Starter Poster displayed as a tool for students to use.
It’s so easy to assume that kids understand these skills or justify briefly touching on their meaning but taking extra time to teach these skills explicitly will pay off, saving you time in the long run, as well as increasing student confidence and performance.
Resources for Teaching Text Evidence