Common Core Reading Standard 1 - Text Based Evidence & Motivating Generation Z To "Cite Specific Textual Evidence"

Common Core Reading Anchor Standard No.1, for Literature AND Informational Text, for Kindergarten AND 12th Grade AND every grade in between states the following:

"Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text." 

For the past year, or for some, the past two years, it seems that everyone has dissected the language of the Common Core Standards to figure out exactly what they mean, and what it is exactly kids (and teachers) are supposed to do to show they know competency in each of the standards.  There are lots of buzz words and buzz phrases popping up everywhere claiming to be "common core aligned" or "a close reading passage" -- which by the way, in my opinion, there is no such thing as a "close reading passage", I mean really, do you think the passage gets together and says, "hey, let's be close!", there is nothing inherently "close" about a passage or text by itself.  Sort of the like the analogy "letters make sounds" -- they don't, try it.  Write down all the letters of the alphabet on a piece of paper, put your pencil down, then lean down really close to the letters and you hear anything?  Of course not, but we incorrectly use this phrase with kids all the time.  The standard says "read closely..." which is an adverb done by the reader, it is a way (of frequency, duration and intensity) to read and re-read text.  

Reading Anchor Standard No.1 is closely linked to Reading Anchor Standard No.10 because Standard 10 determines what the text is that will be read -- or the level of the text.  It doesn't mean reading 8th grade text in 3rd grade or 4th grade text in 1st, etc.  It means analyzing the text (a text somewhere in your lexile band) and it's complexities.  There are at least 8 elements that make a text complex and I will devote another blog post to them at a later date.  I have a Text Complexity presentation (workshop, really) in which we dive into the elements of text complexity because when teachers know what elements of complexity are--and I guarantee that most teachers just glaze over them right now without even thinking, "this could be hard for kids"...or" kids might find this challenging"...but if we can teach teachers what to look for and the elements of text complexity than our ears are perked up to them when they pop up in books and articles, and we are better equipped to scaffold our teaching so all students can read it, discern it, understand it and "make fuller use of text."

The other caveat I must state before moving into how we are going to get our students to actually "cite specific textual evidence...when writing and speaking" is to make sure everyone understands that Reading Anchor Standard No.1, whether it's with the Reading Literature (RL) or Reading Informational Text (RIT) standards, includes the reading comprehension strategies of Inferring, Predicting and Visualizing.   As I've stated in previous blog posts, making inferences is a form "filling in the blanks" from textual clues that are not explicitly stated, and predicting is also a form of inferring.  The main difference between inferring and predicting is that predictions can be checked, confirmed or revised but inferences can only be interpreted.  When teaching students the difference between inferences and predictions, I bring in a puzzle, show students all the pieces (not the box) and ask them, "What is this going to be?"...they predict. 

 We put it together and then ask, "Were we right?" And the answer is either yes or no. We can see after we put it together what the puzzlemaker wanted it to be....a puppy with a tennis ball in its mouth.  

Photo Credit
When teaching inference, I show students a piece of art, like Starry Night by Van Gogh, works well.

Photo Credit

The reason art works well to teach students the difference between inferring and predicting is, unlike a puzzle, we can never check if what we think it's going to be is right, we can only interpret what we think the artist meant, we can infer the setting, the tone, the mood, the main idea, etc.  That is why art and art appreciation is so subjective and nowhere in the painting does the artist say "this is what I mean."  And so is the case in books, authors do not come right and state the obvious, but the author leave clues and often a trail of evidence for students to make good inferences about what is going on in the text.   Also why I love to teach inferring using pictures...hence, my creation of Picture of the Day to teach this important skill. 

Click on the picture to download it. 

I also mentioned about that Visualizing, like Predicting, is in the Inferring family, because when a reader visualizes or makes mental images in their minds from information and details in the text, or NOT in the text, a reader must, in a way, fill in the details with pictures in their mind to better understand the text.  

Now, with all this said, (and I realize this could/should probably be another blog post since this one is already so long, but I have promised this post for two weeks, so I'm going to forge ahead with the second part of this post) are we going to get students to actually "cite specific textual evidence" of text. 

In fact, I created this "Are You A Text Talker?" cheat sheet last summer, which is a step the TBE direction, but it's not enough. 

Click on the image to download it.

So, my solution...the TBE Graph, because kids still weren't citing text.
So, the creation of the TBE Graph (or Grid, really) came from several places deep down in my literacy soul. Ok, that sounds corny, but I really, really, racked my brain and thought long and hard to find the answer to this vital reading behavior question..."What can *I* do, say or create to really get my students citing evidence from the text?"   

One of the places this came from was data.  Each quarter, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students take a quarterly formative assessment (to measure proficiency in the reading standards). We (Wake County Public School System) use the assessments from Case 21.  When the results come back from these after a week or two, we can really get a big picture and itemized detailed report of where each class and student's strengths and weaknesses are in each of the ELA standards. If you follow Hello Literacy on TpT or Facebook, or have been following my blog for several years, you'll know that Lake Myra tackled teaching critical thinking (higher level thinking) several years ago...before Common Core was even published.  So, it was refreshing to get these results back to find that most students did well on the higher level questions on these assessments. What shocked us though, and I'm not trying to tattle on Lake Myra, just trying to share an anecdotal story so your students (and perhaps, teachers) don't make the same mistake....was that students, across the 3rd-5th grade board, did BETTER on the higher level questions than the lower level questions!  Really? Are you kidding? No. Perhaps over-thinking Right There Questions?  Maybe. But nonetheless, missing "gimme" questions where the answer is "RIGHT THERE" in the text.  As many of you may also find, unless trained to do so, most students DON'T go back into the text to find or double-check their answer. My theory on this is that they try to A) remember; B) don't know and guess; or C) mark an answer that sounds right in real life, but isn't stated by the author in the text.   Seems kids these days have a lot of background knowledge about stuff, and if there's any answer choice that remotely sounds "familiar", they mark it. 

In addition, the TBE Graph method really forces them to GO BACK INTO THE TEXT AND FIND THE ANSWER, WRITE IT AND CITE IT.  Here's how...the motivation to do these above things are built into the graph.  **Note: I say graph, but it's really a grid, students can mark off the squares in an order, color or formation they want. Examples below.**

I am going to explain this in four parts...the reader, the text, the task and the tools. First,  
 Creating this graph is about.... 

Although the generation AFTER the Millennial Generation (people whose birth years range from 1980 to 2000) has not officially been named, there is widespread consensus that they will be called the Digital Generation, Digital Natives or Generation Z (people whose birth years range from roughly 2000 to 2010)...these are the students sitting in your elementary classroom right now.  If you are a research nerd (like me) and want to read in-depth studies on the Digital Generation, you can "Google It!" [a trait of this generation] and find a wealth of research and statistics. Here's just one and another that talks about some of the traits and motivations you can expect from this generation. 

you can read my hyper-summary of what motivates the Digital Generation below:

I really have come to the conclusion that this generation of students are motivated by two things, Instant Gratification and Accumulation, and not necessarily material things...but intangible things.  

Instant Gratification is something we can all relate to, but this generation is motivated by things and events happening in real time, that is why technology, social media and video games are motivating to them.  And if I had a dime for every time a student said, "Google it!" I'd be a millionaire by now.  Students believe everything can be found on the internet, and while maybe this isn't true [and that's another standard and blog post], they are going to try and they want to look it up, RIGHT NOW. I get it.  How many of you have a conversation, about ANYTHING, and take out your phone to look something up related to an unknown in the conversation?? It happens in our house and car a lot.  Answers, to them, are only a click away.  

Accumulation as a motivator is no different.  Video games and apps are popular because video games provide both instant gratification and accumulation.  Why do you think Bejeweled and Candy Crush is so popular, with people of all ages?  You get to move up the levels, get more 'bananas or mushrooms, lives, or ammo or whatever' and you can see them on the screen right in front of you. When you use one up, they disappear, when you do better or move up, they reappear, instantly.  Social media like Instagram and Twitter is very popular with our students because they literally see how many Friends or Followers they have right away and how many Likes and Retweets they get, instantly...again, accumulation of Friends, Followers, Likes and Tweets.  They love it, and it motivates them.

Hence, in my brain I'm thinking, how can I use these motivators to work to in my (their) favor? 

The TBE Graph looks like this:

And here's what it looks like filled out (partially)...

Like I said, students can complete the squares in their own way.  

Next, is the text.  Any text will do, preferably one that you are already using during guided reading.  The structure for students actually using the TBE graph occurs "in real time" at the guided reading table.  However you normally select books for use during guided reading is what you will continue to do.  When there is not a set of books in the leveled book room to align to the content or standards I am teaching, I try to find books from or I photocopy 10% of a book from the library.  (Note: The Fair Use clause of the Copyright laws state that you can photocopy up to 10% of a book for educational purposes.)  In this case, I was using a book about the Olympics from Reading A-Z called Olympics: Past and Present.  My third grade reading group was studying a science unit about Properties of Matter, so talking about how water and ice is used in the Winter Olympics was my content connection.  [In the research center, students also researched the positive and negative effects of water and ice on our society]. Each day, when a group would come to my guided reading table, I would have the directions sitting there for them so they could get started without me, if necessary...I tell them to "Show me how you can be a Self-Starter". 

I have the reading directions written out already on a whiteboard that I prop up with a book end.

Because we read "closely" we take our time to dive into the text and interpret what the text is saying and how the author is saying it.   In addition, I often don't want to students to write IN the Reading A-Z books even though they are paper books, I use them for all the students that rotate through my group for a 3rd grade stretch level of guided reading. So, what I do is photocopy one two-page layout from the book that we can really sink our teeth into.  It is this photocopied page that students will mark up, highlight, and annotate. You can see one of the photocopied papers from the book below. 

You can see from the image above that we are identifying paragraphs with brackets, denoting line numbers, labeling text features, and highlighting were in the text is the "specific answer" for the question.  

Using the TBE Graph comes in "real time" right at the guided reading table, so students will not want to lose their graph.  They will use it every day until they begin to show improvement in citing evidence from the text in their speaking and writing....and hopefully, your students will show improvement and yield positive results on test scores, too. The entire use of the TBE Graph is really just a short-medium term scaffold that will eventually not be needed to do the same citations.  

After students read the text you have assigned them for the day, and after you've discussed what it says (Key Details and Ideas) and how the author is saying it (Craft and Structure) will pass out a whiteboard to each child.  A pair of students share a supply basket containing 2 whiteboard markers, 2 erasers and several crayons, like this below.

You will then begin by holding them responsible for shorter chunks of text (a paragraph) and stretching to longer pieces of text ( a page or section) after a couple of weeks.  To hold them responsible for the text, you will ask them questions from the text and, where answers will also come from the text...that's what "text-based" or "text-dependent" means.  Eventually, they will become the question askers, but to begin, you will model asking the questions.  

The lights are off in the classroom because we have several lamps around 
the room and another group is doing Picture of the Day.

At first, I only ask them RIGHT THERE questions, meaning questions where the answer is explicitly stated in the text.  For example, for the following page, here are several Right There questions you could ask and one Inferential question to compare:

I then pass out the TBE Graph, one to each student. It's theirs. I tell them the "object of the game" the number of squares they get to fill in depends on the completeness and accuracy of the answer and citation they provide on the whiteboard.    The checkbric provided at the bottom of the graph is their "key".  It tells them everything they need to do "answer-wise" to fill in a square on their graph.  So the more elements of the checkbric they provide, the more squares they get to fill in.  And because you are starting with Right There questions, I want them to learn to include the quotation marks around their answer that they are pulling directly from the text.  As you can see from the pictures below, they are very intent of finding the answer and double checking with the checkbric before putting their pen back in the green basket (that's the signal to me that you are done with your answer and can't go back and fix it after we review the answers and tally how many squares they get to fill in.) 

Here you can see how this student is making checkmarks on his whiteboard (a strategy he did all on his own) to ensure that he did not forget to include any answer elements to the question, "What does IOC stand for?" 

The answer elements from the Checkbric that students must include in order to color in the maximum number of squares per question/answer is the following:

1 = accurate answer
1 = quotation marks (or underline evidence)
1 = page citation
1 = paragraph citation

This reading behavior strategy is quite motivating for several reasons.  They can see immediately if they got the right answer, if they included all the answer elements (and I guarantee you that if they forgot to include something once, they'll never forget again....because they don't want to lose the opportunity to complete as many squares as they can).  

As first, the use of the TBE Graph is slow going, but that's ok, sometimes you have to go slow and front-load HOW to things, to build the capacity for learning the content and meaning of the text for the long haul.  So, don't worry if you only get through 3 or 4 questions and answer rounds in one 30 minute guided reading session.  I guarantee that on Day 2, the students will be asking you excitedly, "Are we going to use the whiteboards again, and color our TBE graph???"  

On a side but related note, not one single student asked me,
 "Mrs. Jones, what do we get if we fill up the sheet?"
and this shouldn't surprise you, because remember the two things that motivate this generation...

the prize box of the past doesn't motivate them much anymore...but instant words of affirmation, instant praise, instant feedback, and instant graphing DOES.  I'm telling you this really works!  Finally, on day 3 a student did ask, "what happens when we fill up this sheet?" and I replied, "Two things. One, you get another blank TBE Graph and you get to start on page 2, and Two, you get to be in the TBE Club." They then said, "What does it mean to be in the TBE Club?" I said, "That means you are TBE Leader!" and he smiled, said, "Cool!" and skipped away. 

When you are doing this, your guided reading table might look like a "good messy" like this:

And eventually students will ask and answer each other's questions, like this:

And eventually, you will put them in the teacher seat and let them facilitate.

To do this, you'll need the following:

1. A set of guided reading texts - books from the guided reading room, articles, magazines
2. A set of "Are You a Text Talker?" sheets (free download in my TeachersPayTeachers store)
3. A set of whiteboards  - if you don't have whiteboards, laminate 6 pieces of white cardstock)
4. A set of whiteboard pens and erasers (Walmart or Target)
5. Crayons
6. Highlighers
7. Pencils or pens (if you've heard me present, you know how I feel about pens...LET THEM USE PENS)
8. My TBE Graph - one per child

I also put together all the pictures to create a short slideshow and uploaded it to YouTube. 

Thanks so much for following my blog, and for letting me know, that is some small or large way, my blog is helping improve the quality of your instruction on a daily basis.  *YOU* are the reason I keep blogging. 



Unknown said...

I love this blog! I want to start all these ideas right away!!! I enjoy the different perspective and effective ways to relate to our students. Thank you!

Alexis Sanchez said...

Wow! This is AMAZING and seriously the best post I have read in a while! I've been struggling with TBE with my 3rd and 4th graders and this is exactly what I need to get them ready for our spring testing. Thank you for all this GREAT information and freebie!! I'm off to purchase the graph and get it all set up in my classroom.

Alexis at Laugh. Eat. Learn.

Traveling Thru Sixth said...

Thank you Jen for your very thoughtful, detailed, and helpful post. As a sixth grade ELA teacher I have been working all year on citing text and document based responses. I am going to most certainly use many of your ideas to mix up our class a bit!

alwayslearning said...

Wonderful post and so helpful! Thank you! Holly

Laura said...

Fabulous! Working on citing evidence right now, so this post was perfect! Now to read all your posts on non-fiction and all things related!!!

Caroline Jones said...

Outstanding post, Jenn! I've been waiting so long for you to branch out into the standards that us intermediate grade teacher struggle with. As you know, reading efficacy doesn't end with decoding and fluency. This post was so jam-packed with information it will take me many days to digest it!

Miss 27 said...

Or school has had the same problems with standardized tests. The students do well with harder questions and miss the right there ones. I tell them that the questions are not tricks. They have to look back in the text to find the answer. It's right there. I am going to do this worth my lower quartile fifth graders. I think it will motivate them to use text evidence. Thank you for sharing this post and your knowledge of the standards. Our district svelte cut back on the availability of workshops. Reading your blog is like going to an awesome workshop, and I don't even have to write sub plans.

MrsC. said...

Thank you, thank you! I grabbed this as soon as you posted it because it was EXACTLY what we needed! And this post will better help me model and explain it to my teachers....THANK YOU!!!

Irene Zajac said...

You keep me going! I recently became a literacy coach and I love and thank you for all your insight, professionalism and great quality work.

Shannon said...

Awesome blog post, and you rock!!!!!!!!!!!


froggergirl said...

Thank you so much for this TBE lesson and format. One of our biggest problems is referring to the text. I teach 3rd grade in a Title 1 school with scores that we are trying to raise. I cannot wait to try this! I want to do it well, so I will start it next week!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this valuable lesson and tools. I was wondering how and what you use for assessment with this lesson?

Jennifer Jones said...

What I shared is not a "lesson." This entire post is about a "tool" to get students using and citing text based evidence. The graph itself IS a formative version of feedback.

Anonymous said...

I feel compelled to share what an incredible impact this resource has had in my classroom. I followed your detailed instructions and now have motivated readers who can't wait to mark their text, use quotations and provide elaboration. I have also invested in the Picture of the Day activities and I am amazed at how these two resources have increased the engagement in literacy at all reading levels. Thanks for continuing to inspire and share your ideas.

Betty Rose said...

i have loved reading your blog! this has really helped me, I have a daughter in primary school and i am trying to get her used to doing more literacy by using fun literacy activities.
The tbe graph looks like a really good idea, i may have to try this out!

Jessica Kull said...

Reading your blog is the best literacy PD I have found since I started teaching. This fall will be my first year actually being able to implement GR, and I feel like I can actually make it happen thanks to your posts :) Thank-you for the wonderful gift you are giving to our profession.

Classroom in the Middle said...

I've been reading up on text-based questions in preparation for writing some short close reading articles myself, and I really liked the way you worked this motivational tool into the lessons - and without even stocking up the prize box!

Lisa Langford said...

Wow! Thanks so much for sharing this idea! Any ideas on how to implement the TBE graph with younger students? Any potential problems that you foresee introducing it in younger grades? I am interested in using this with my first graders because we have really focused on using text-based evidence! This seems like it would be very motivating!

Growing Firsties said...

Hi! I'm no Jen Jones, but as I've read through this post I'm super excited to scale it down a bit and try it out with my strongest first graders so I can get my feet wet and see how it goes with them, which will give me insight into which other students it would benefit. I'm thinking I'll have them earn box-coloring-opps for accurate answers and being able to directly point out the evidence in the text. 2 boxes each. I'm also thinking about trying this idea with growing conversations around text to help them hone in to closer listening to one another.

Back to Top