Common Core literacy standards include:
- Reading — Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite speciﬁc textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
- Writing — Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
By coordinating their efforts, a team can provide a variety of contexts for students to practice the skill of citing evidence in both discussions and writing. Finding strategies that work across the disciplines is the first step. Here’s one that Abby Svenson, fifth grade teacher at Harpswell Community School in Maine, uses with her students.
- Students respond to a prompt.
- The teacher chooses 3 responses — good, better, and excellent.
- Students identify the positive aspects of each response.
- Then students make concrete suggestions to make the responses even stronger.
- The teacher creates a visual summarizing the ideas for students to reference when revising their own work.
The image below shows the visual that Abby constructed.
- 3 columns
- The responses are in the center.
- Response #1 is the weakest and #3 is the strongest.
- Identified positives are in the left column.
- Suggestions for making responses stronger by citing additional evidence are on the right.
This particular example is a literature lesson. Imagine the social studies teacher following up with a similar exercise based on a video, and the science teacher adapting the process to fit his needs. As students become familiar and confident with the process, they can focus more and more on the content. Multiple practices and varied contexts builds competence and confidence.
This strategy could become digital by using a wiki or Google Drive. The advantage of using a digital tool is, of course, that the examples are available 24/7 to students working on assignments.
Learning to cite evidence to support a stance or make an important point is not beyond any student. Modeling, multiple practices, and having students work together will provide the scaffolding necessary to build these skills. When teachers collaborate to plan a systematic approach across the curriculum, students benefit.