Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Evidence in Writing

I attended a Common Core Academy held by a local writing project and participated in two noteworthy activities that involve prior knowledge and supporting evidence. The below activities are not my own creation and were generated through a group of teachers and administrators.

In this activity we were asked to read from a children's picture book and the challenge was to find or "lift a line" from the text that supported a character analysis. The character "X" is resilient. Find something in the text that supports this character trait. In small groups, we each read the story and worked to find something in the story that would support this character trait.  As we placed our evidence up for all to see, the instructor led us through a mini-lesson on the types of evidence one might find in a story- dialogue, quotes, inference, etc.  This would work very well for middle grades using a higher level text. Character analysis, evidence of theme, etc. might be the focus and students work to lift a line or find evidence that supports a particular theme or character trait.  I can see using this method to discuss writer's craft and how a writer helps the reader get to know the character- through dialogue, action, what others say about him/her, etc. What do we know about this character? What is he/she like? Lift a line that portrays who this character is as a person. A mini-lesson can follow where you discuss how a writer introduces and develops a character.

I wish I could turn this picture around- I actually did so in Paint, but now it comes up like this anyway...sigh...

Nevertheless, in this activity a topic was introduced- what do you know or think you know about proper nutrition? In small groups we listed everything we thought we knew about this topic. Next we were given multiple articles- they were short and in some cases excerpts- and our goal was to find evidence that supports at least one thing we wrote down on the chart paper. We had to list the evidence and source on a post-it  and place the Post-it next to the line which it supported.

I can see this working for many topics, it can help students achieve those short research projects noted in the CCS, and it can assist in learning how to find evidence and how to cite it.

 In addition, one might use this activity in order to counter-argue as well. If students find information that is the exact opposite of what has been listed, you might color-code your Post-its and use hot pink for example to show evidence that does NOT support that information. A counter-argument mini-lesson or even how to introduce a counter-argument mini-lesson might come from this extension.