Closely Reading and Understanding the Common Core Informational Standards for Grades 3-6: Beginning with RIT.1-Textual Evidence

This post begins a 10 part series about the Common Core Reading Informational Text Standards for grades 3-6.  It is also not a coincidence that I just finished my Common Core Reading Informational Text Reading Comprehension Response Sheets for 3-6 either...the informational counterpart to the Reading Literature set I published in the fall.

(Click on the image for more details)

Rather than throw it up here and tell you it's available and on sale this month (which it is), I have decided to dedicate 10 posts to the 10 RIT standards for grades 3-6...diving into each standard one post at a time to help better understand what the standard is asking students to know and show, and what it isn't.   I have spent the last three years teaching the common core informational standards to students, and wrote an extensive blog post last year about how the implementation of it was going in my classroom.  I have also spent the last two years providing professional development and common core training at my own school to teachers, other schools in Wake County, other schools in North Carolina, and even schools in Arkansas {shout-out to Sonora Elementary School in the Springdale School District,woot-woot!!}, Indiana {shout-out to all the elementary teachers & literacy coaches in the Monticello School Corporation, woot-woot!!}, and Georgia {shout-out to Barnwell Elementary, Dolvin Elementary and Metlock Bridge Elementary in the Fulton County Schools, woot-woot!!}! I will be traveling this spring, summer and fall to Kansas, Texas and Tennessee, and back to Georgia.   Needless to say, I know the common core standards by my math facts. I just know 'em and I cannot stress enough how "just knowing them [fluently]" has made my life so much easier, and how much just knowing them will make your teaching life easier, too. [Side note: memorizing math facts may not be a common core standard, but it makes my life easier just knowing it...think about that.]  Call it Standards Fluency or Standards Awareness, I don't care, knowing and understanding each one is me, these standards, are KEY DETAILS for my livelihood.  So, one by one, I will try to break each one down, beginning today with Standard One, the evidence standard.   

[Side note: I include 6th grade in my work because in many schools across the country, 6th grade is still a part of elementary school, still on the elementary campus...the campus you are on for 6th grade shouldn't matter...but I want my elementary 6th teacher friends to know...I would never leave you out! :-) ]

Back-up: The organizational structure of the standards is sweet.  For both Reading Literature and Reading Informational Text, standards 1, 2 and 3 are housed under the structural umbrella of "Key Ideas and Details" Lucy Calkins says in her book, Pathways to the Common Core, "standards 1, 2, and 3 are all about *what* the text is saying."  

**Also, whenever I use the initials TBE, I mean Text Based Evidence**

To hyper-summarize standard 1 into one word or phrase, Standard 1 is all about Textual Evidence (and Analysis).  What is Textual Evidence? Textual Evidence is support lifted directly from the text that is the basis for an answer, inference, claim or a question. When "doing" this standard, students must reference the text. 

 For third graders, this means that now when you ask the 5W1H questions, they must also provide evidence from the text that supports their answers, instead of the old days, where just their response or answer only, was good enough.  

For fourth graders, this standard means that in addition to providing answers to questions, they too must provide evidence from the text that supports their answer, even when the evidence is not explicitly stated by the author.  Fourth grade evidence, may be in the form of explicit evidence, where the text support is a "right there text" or inferential evidence, where the author does not come right out and spell it out for the reader. Anything that the author does not type out in the form of exact words put on the page, but conveys through other words, is an example of an inference. 

 [Short side note: when teaching this to students, ask them to remember what it's like to be a writer, like in Writing Workshop, when we ask students to "show not tell"...writers who write the words and readers who read the words use the same strategy...writers ask, "what words can I use to show how I felt/acted, etc.?"...readers ask, "what words did the writer use to show how the character felt/acted, etc.?"...the answer to that question is the text evidence for how you think the character felt or acted.] (see Michelle Obama passage example below)

For fifth graders, they will do exactly the same thing as fourth graders, but they should be able quote the passage, section or sentence when they are making their inference.  

To demonstrate this standard, let's take an excerpt from an informational article about First Lady, Michelle Obama, titled Meet Michelle Obama, A Special Lady

"Michelle Obama grew up in Chicago in a small apartment. Her mother and father worked hard for Michelle and her brother. They taught Michelle and her brother to work hard at everything they tried.  Michelle was very smart. She skipped the second grade!  She was on the honor roll in high school. There she graduated second in her class.  For college, Michelle went to Princeton. She studied social studies, or how communities of people live together. She tried her best at everything.  After Princeton, Michelle went to Harvard University to study law. She joined protests at Harvard. The protestors wanted to get more people of color hired as professors. Michelle wanted to make Harvard fair for all people."

I will use the same two guiding questions I use when teaching students the difference between explicit and inferential evidence when I teach this skill through Picture of the Day.  To teach explicit evidence, I ask, "What do you see?" (these are the observations)...for text, I say, "What do you read? What is actually said or stated?" To teach inferences, I ask, "What do you think?" and to teach inferential evidence, I ask, "What from the picture/text makes you say that?"  

So, if asked (students) the question, what kind of person was Michelle Obama? explicit answers would be:

"She was very smart." ...the text says that
TBE: "She skipped second grade." "She was on the honor roll." "She went to Princeton & Harvard." inferential answer would be:

She was motivated and driven. ....the text does not say those words, it does however say...
TBE: "She was on the honor roll." "She graduated second in her class." "She graduated with honors and tried her best at everything she did." 

She fought for unjust things that she believed in.  ...again, the text does not those words, it does say...
TBE: "She joined protests at Harvard." "She wanted to get more people of color hired as professors." "She wanted to make Harvard fair for all people."   

In my CCSS RIT 3-6 packet, I have provided a variety of ways for students to know and show text based evidence with explicit and inferential evidence.  Here are a few sample pages from RIT. 1. (And for those of you that are just stumbling across my blog, in all three of the K-2 RL,  K-2 RIT, and 3-6 RL packets, each common core standard is indicated in the top right corner of each page, so you and students can know which standard you are working on. In addition, not only can these reading response sheets be used for daily opportunities and practice for writing about reading (HUGE! in the common core) but they can also be used as quick assessments for each of the standards as well.   The following standards are addressed for a total of 418 pages.  I really tried to cut it down, but the 3-6 informational standards are meaty and this packet is comprehensive to include all the meat and demand. 

In addition, my Text Based Evidence Graph is a highly motivating tool that helps students begin their text-based evidence journey.  

CCSS RIT 3-6 Writing about Reading, Comprehension Response Sheets HERE.

Important: Standard 1 is not just about students being able to answer a quiz or general recall. The standard also calls for students to note the textual evidence that triggered a question they have while  reading. A sincere, thought provoking, wondering-type question. This is a very building block skill for self-monitoring.  If students are aware that their brains are turned on and thinking about what they are reading, while they are reading, then questions will naturally pop-up out of curiousity, wonderment, sincerity or confusion...which are all GOOD! We want to encourage this real form of questioning, and not misunderstand Standard 1. 

Inferring is a life skill. We do it everyday.  When we go outside and see big black clouds in the sky, we infer a storm is coming.  When we walk in on somebody crying, we infer they are sad or upset about something....we don't know all the pieces of the puzzle, but we can use what we see, what we think will happen based on what happened last time and make a decision about what we think will happen or why something happened.   Helping students see the real-world connection with Standard 1 will help many students see the relevance and importance of the standard.   

I found this great questioning matrix hidden inside the book, Rigor is Not A 4-Letter Word, and I have recreated for you.  It's a really neat and handy way to help students begin to ask constructed response questions.  

Download it HERE. 

Next post: RIT Standard 2. 
Also, wanted to let everyone know that I finished my latest set of Fluency Fact Cards. Last month, the fluency facts were about the Winter Olympics and this set is about St. Patrick's Day & Ireland. You can get more details HERE

2 sets of 18 fluency fact cards for a total of 36 cards.

2 interactive comprehension assessments included, one per set of 18 cards.

Until next time!



Sailing into Second said...

Jen, you are a genius!! Thank you for this wonderful post and making these standards more understandable for educators! I love seeing the examples of how you use TBE in your own classroom. :) You can come do professional development in SoCal any day! ;)
Sailing into Second

Dilly Dabbles said...

So many fantastic ideas sparked in this post. I can't wait for the rest of the series. Now to figure out how I can fit in all that my students need and that I want to do to support them. ~Melissa

Kathy O. said...

Your blog posts are like classes on the Common Core Standards. I am very familiar with the standards but I always learn something new from your posts!! Thank you so much for taking the time to educate all of are truly living your calling!

Kathy O
Third Grade Doodles

Anonymous said...

On the 42 Questions sheet, the "where" column changed to "when" halfway through the list. Was that intended or is it a mistake?

Jennifer Jones said...

THANK YOU! I fixed it and updated the link! Good job! ;-)

Anne said...

I am so looking forward to this series of posts! Thanks for the freebie!

Beach Bum Literacy Chick said...

I LOVE the constructed response page! Thanks!!

Beach Bum Literacy Chick

Jennifer Jones said...

Aris, I'd love that! I am from CA (Santa Barbara) so I know I would feel right at home! I really miss west coast beaches. :-) Thanks again, Jen

Jennifer Jones said...

Thank you and I fixed it! Good catch.

Jennifer Jones said...

You are welcome! I'm sorry for the delay on these posts but I will finish them. :-) jen

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen ~ love reading your posts, as always! I'm a K-5 administrator and live in north Georgia. If you don't mind me asking, where in Georgia will you be presenting?

Jennifer Jones said...

Hi! I will be working at two different schools, which will be the 4th and 5th school to hire me in the Fulton County Schools district. You can team up with two schools if you want or if the district has five or less schools, I can present to all the elementary teachers at the same time, like I did for the Monticello School Corporation in IN or like I am doing next week for the Maize School District in KS. -Jen

Denise Palmer said...

Hello, I tried to download your 42 questions. The link says that the file is no longer available. Can I find this file anywhere else? Thank you in advance. I love your blog! So many great resources!!!

Mary Helen Russell said...

Hello, I love your blog. I'm student teaching this semester and these breakdowns of the standards are so helpful. I'm looking for the rest of the series, is it on the blog? Thank you for the resources!

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