How to Help All Students with Evidence-based Reading and Writing During an Inquiry Activity, pp. 6 of 7

This type of specific scaffold about evidence can help students realize no statistical evidence is used with Sources 1 and 4. Instead, other evidence is used. For example, evidence by analogy with Source 1 (“Like the promotion of kindness and graciousness, public ownership, as opposed to a top-down approach, is more effective in bringing about long-term change.”).

Scaffold Reading Comprehension Habits

To do the work of evaluating claims and evidence, many students can benefit from scaffolds that help them monitor their own comprehension. One way to do this is to ask students to keep a record of their thinking when working with a source, to use, for example, a three-column chart where students identify the specific places in a source where they are confused, consider reasons why they might be confused, and identify what they will do to get unstuck (see Teaching Resource, “Monitoring Comprehension Scaffold”). It is important for students to identify where they get stuck, so they can better learn strategies to get unstuck, such as, reread, ask yourself a question and answer it, visualize, notice patterns in the source, or make a connection to own life, knowledge of the world, or another source (Tovani, 2000).  Similar to this “Monitoring Comprehension Scaffold” is to ask students to document their thinking in the margins of a source with Post-it notes.

Another scaffold that can be used to cultivate the habit, generating and answering questions, as well as the habit, monitoring one’s own comprehension, is a graphic organizer where students document the questions they have before, during, and after reading the source (see Teaching Resource, “Before-During-After Questions Scaffold”). They can also ask themselves: What answers to my questions can I locate in this source (or with the aid of another source in this activity)?

Guide Synthesis and Writing

After students work with all the sources, the goal is for them to synthesize what they have learned – and, specifically, to extract evidence from these sources to answer the inquiry question: How can social harmony be best achieved in online spaces? To make this task as engaging and authentic as possible, the culminating writing assignment can be framed this way:

Assume you have been asked to post your response to this question in a special online forum: "Based on the evidence I have examined so far, social cohesion in online spaces can be best achieved by...."

As teachers, we can provide additional scaffolding during this culminating phase of the instructional process. We can ask students to identify the main claim they want to make; we can even provide a few examples of claims, such as:

  • social harmony in online spaces can be achieved through self-regulation;
  • the government needs to play a role in regulating offensive online interactions;
  • online community groups are in the best position to regulate online behavior;
  • the responsibility for monitoring and policing online behavior needs to be shared across individuals, groups, and the government.

Then we can do our best to make sure students use evidence from the sources to support their own claims. Because any conclusions drawn with an inquiry like this are necessarily tentative and limited, a final step in this process could be to ask students to identify what new or refined questions they have at this point and what sources they would like to locate to continue exploring this inquiry topic.

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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