Citing Textual Evidence: Moving Beyond Listing

Textual Evidence.

You hear this all of the time. Students are supposed to recognize it, write about it, and talk about it. When it comes to incorporating it into their writing, things get a bit fuzzy. Students suddenly start to plagiarize, or they produce a long list of random information from a book or other source.

This chart is my solution to that. I ask students not to quote any information directly. This eliminates giant passages of text from being copied and held together with a set of quotation marks. I ask students to just tell me what they text says in their own words (paraphrase) and then tell me why I should care. Why does this information matter? Who cares?

Telling why the evidence matters is critical. This shifts the use of textual evidence away from listing and shows the thinking behind it. This is powerful and moves students closer to synthesis.

1 Citing Textual Evidence

Introducing this chart:

  1. Before writing anything on the chart, I begin with an open-ended question. I ask students, “If you saw something really interesting on television last night and wanted to tell me about it, how might you start your sentence?”
  2. If you don’t get any responses, probe students by giving examples. “If I heard something serious on the news, I might come in the next day and say that CNN said that… or The 6:00 News explained how…”
  3. Continue giving examples until students start sharing ideas that fit under the What does your source say? category.
  4. After a brief discussion, I began to create the chart and show how we tell readers what we learned from sources in the same way. Then, I begin adding the sticky notes.
  5. After they are all added, I go back to the original questions. I ask students to tell me how they could begin a sentence to share evidence from a source. Then, I ask them to select a second sentence starter to help me understand why this matters. Why should I care?
  6. A fun way to practice this is to watch commercials and ask students to write two sentences to share what the commercial (source) says and a second sentence to show why this information matters. This is always fun and helps the learning to stick.

This chart is from Chart Sense for Writing.

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Article written by Dr. Rozlyn Linder

This is the official blog of Dr. Roz Linder, an academic, K-12 Language Arts Specialist, former elementary school teacher, high school journalism teacher, and all-around rabble rouser. I am interested in how we equip students to compete in a global community that grows increasingly flatter every millisecond and the practical application of communication pedagogy and Common Core standards.Situated at the intersection of cultural, racial, social, and digital literacy, my blog is all about fostering and supporting the recognition that we don’t teach in your grandad’s America and being happy about that. Let's stop telling students what to think or believe, but prepare students to think critically and often.

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