How to Help All Students with Evidence-based Reading and Writing During an Inquiry Activity, pp. 5 of 7

Design Learning Scaffolds

Scaffolds can help students be successful when working with these four sources. To explore what this scaffolding might look like, let’s consider the core skill of evaluating claims and evidence and two comprehension habits: (1) generate and answer questions; and (2) monitor one’s own comprehension.

There are several ways to help students identify and evaluate the claims and evidence of a source. We can start with a few prompts, including several to guide students to ask questions while they read:

1. Identify key information: Ask yourself, What are the details that describe who or what the source is about? Are there details that describe when, where, how, and why something happened? Here it is also useful for students to ask themselves about the type and purpose of each source. Sources 1 and 4 are Opinion-Editorials with a purpose to persuade while sources 2 and 3 are news reports with a primary purpose to inform.

2. Identify claims: Remind students that a claim states a position on something (“The economy is doing well” or “The best way to improve the environment is to recycle”) and that often the main idea of a source is a claim. We can also remind students that titles and headings can also indicate key claims (e.g., ‘Give self-regulation a chance to work online’ is the title and main claim of Source 1).

3.  Examine evidence: Here we want students to ask themselves, “Is the claim supported with evidence or not? What kind or type of evidence is used to support the claim?” An additional scaffold to use here is a list of different kinds of evidence with definitions and examples of each: such as:

Statistics: the use of numbers or quantitative information to support a claim or argument. Example: "4 out of 5 dentists recommend Crest toothpaste."

Anecdotes: evidence that is based on a person’s observations or experiences. Example: When someone says something like, "This song makes you feel good about yourself."

Testimony:  when someone testifies to the truth or veracity of a statement or claim. This can include expert testimony or eyewitness testimony. Example: A doctor who declares that a restaurant has healthy food options. A teacher who states that a recent concert was the best performance of her students.

Analogy: to compare and find similarities between two different things. Example: Comparing American football and war. Both include offense and defense, generals are like coaches, military battles are like fourth downs" with each possession in football, etc.

Related Teaching Materials

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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