The Importance of Text Evidence with Guest Blogger Colleen

We, at Literacy Land, are excited to announce our first guest blogger, Colleen from Literacy Loving Gals.  She brings you some awesome ideas for getting students to use text evidence.  So, sit back, drink your coffee, and enjoy!

Hello Adventures in Literacy Land friends!  This is Colleen from Literacy Loving Gals.  I'm a reading specialist in a K-5 building, but mostly work with 2nd and 3rd graders.  I am excited to be here to share a few activities I do to get my students using textual evidence when responding to their reading.

As we all know, the Common Core State Standards declare students should be able to *read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it* as well as *cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text*.  That may be very difficult for students to do.  The majority of struggling readers and writers in my RtI groups often respond to their reading with brief, fragmented statements without text evidence supporting their thoughts.  Getting them to support an analysis of their reading with textual evidence takes much EXPLICIT guidance before they are able to be successful on an independent level.  

Students are not able to answer questions purely based off of their prior knowledge or personal experience.  Making personal connections to the text is still important, however, text-to-self connections are no longer a focus when responding to reading.  Students need to stay within the four corners of the text.  They need to carefully read and answer questions only referring explicitly to the text.  When discussing texts with my students, I pre-plan the direction I'd like to take them.  Under the proverbial umbrella of text-dependent evidence falls questions that can 1.) get to the general understanding or gist of the text 2.) be literal, but must also involve evaluation, synthesis and analysis and 3.) focus on particular vocabulary words, sentences, paragraphs, events and themes.  

When planning lessons to get my students to think more concretely about their reading, I often turn to K-2 Chart Sense: Common Sense Charts to Teach K-2 Informational Text and Literature and Chart Sense: Common Sense Charts to Teach 3-8 Informational Text and Literature.  I purchased these books at the tail end of last year and have not regretted it!  These books are fabulous and can really help guide teachers in implementing anchor chart visuals for students that encompass every reading standard.  Yes, anchor chart ideas for every Common Core reading standard, both informational text and literature, is addressed in these books!  Wow, right?
Below are some of the tools my students use, a text-evidence chart example taken directly from Chart Sense, pictures of my students using the chart and a brief description of the procedures I use with them. 
Behold the power of "Text-Evidence Detective Tools"! 
After much discussion, the students were asked to become *Text-Evidence Detectives*.  "Prove it with text evidence!" was a phrase they heard me say over and over again.   I gave them eye-lighters and magnifying glasses to locate the evidence for the first few go-arounds to get them excited for the hunt. ;)

For this particular activity, the students orally explained their thoughts and located text evidence to support them.  Because they were busy with the eye-lighters and magnifying glasses during this activity, I wrote their responses onto Post-It notes for the students to place on the chart.  Each day, we'd recap the previous day's notes as a review.  We'd then continue with our next text, using the previous day's notes as a reminder.  The various colored Post-It notes represent three texts read and discussed throughout the week. 

Since I work primarily with the texts in Fountas & Pinnell's Leveled Literacy Intervention kits which contain series of books, I also created anchor charts dedicated to the series' characters we often read about.  Some of the series within the F&P LLI kits include Moosling, Froggy, Fox Family and the Fix-It Family.  For this post, I chose to use our Moosling anchor chart as an example.
Since I can't claim to be an artist, I photocopied the cover of a Moosling book to place in the center of blank chart paper.  I then put "Moosling is..." and "Prove it with text-evidence!" at the top of the chart.   Easy enough, right? :)  Then, using a character trait poster, the students discussed possible traits Moosling possesses in the texts we've read thus far.  The students were given a few pre-read titles in the series to locate text evidence to support Moosling's traits.  They were responsible for writing down their evidence on the Post-It notes for this activity, so no "eye-lighters" or magnifying glasses were used during this part.  The students had a great time with this.  They took their job as "Text-Evidence Detectives" very seriously and were quite successful with it! :)  
After much guided practice my students were ready to test their skills independently!  For independent practice of citing textual evidence, I created a simple graphic organizer for my students to use, as well as a prompt poster for them to reference when responding to their reading.  You can see them in action below!
Student using the Textual Evidence Sentence Starters poster below
for her written response...

I created the organizer to mimic what we were doing together in a small group on the large chart paper, so it correlated with what they had been practicing.  My graphic organizer and prompt poster are FREEBIES, if you'd like to download them from my TPT store.  
My product includes black & white as well as color versions of both the graphic organizer and prompt poster.  I know teachers aren't always able to print in color. :)  

So, there you have it...a few simple and easy-to-implement ideas for your classroom to get students thinking inside the four corners of the text.  What are some ways you get students thinking about and citing from the text? 

Thanks for stopping by Adventures in Literacy Land!  We'd love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below. 

Enjoy your day,


  1. Some great ideas Colleen - thank you! I love those pictures of your kids being text detectives with their magnifying glasses and pointers!
    Growing Little Learners

    1. Thanks so much, Anne! They certainly love using the detective tools. ;)
      Literacy Loving Gals

  2. Thank you for sharing about the anchor chart books! i am going to check them out!

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

    1. Thanks for commenting, Lisa. :) You won't be disappointed with those books! Both are fabulous resources to have on hand.
      Literacy Loving Gals

  3. The text detective tools are super cute. I love seeing the kiddos using them to gather their evidence!

  4. Thanks, Wendy. The little "extras" make reading even more fun. ;)
    Literacy Loving Gals