Identifying Claim and Evidence

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Students will be able to identify claim, evidence, and details in informational texts by analyzing 3 practice paragraphs.

Big Idea

What's the point? Students practice finding claim, evidence, and details.

Do Now: Rhetorical Verbs Categorization 1

10 minutes

Today's Do Now is actually preparation for a lesson on summarizing a week down the road. My English department's target for a good summary includes the use of rhetorical, or academic, verbs. Most students do not write or use such language on a regular basis (ikr, lol--they much prefer text talk or slang), so it is important to intentionally  teach these words.

All too often, vocabulary "lessons" are simply, "Here is the word list; look up the definitions." I have not found this to be effective in my classroom and aim to have students do more with the words. When students USE the verbs in some way, they are more likely to remember them.

Because there are quite a few rhetorical verbs, many of which can be used for similar purposes, I elected to use a categorization activity to help students process how to use them. This will allow students to see which words are similar and which are different, and the final chart will be a helpful tool when they select verbs to use in their own writing.

Check out my approach on the video in the resources section. I give students a short selection of rhetorical verbs and ask them to categorize the verbs, or find connections between them. Students make their own lists according to how they see the verbs connected to one another, basically making their own "filing cabinets" for the words.

On our first day with categorization, I take volunteers for responses as the task is not an easy one. We will continue to add to our categories on three more class days; as we progress, I will rely more on cold call than on volunteers.


Identifying Claim and Evidence

35 minutes

Identifying claim, evidence, and details is one of the foundational skills for all Reading for Information CCSS, so we are tackling it early in the year. We've already familiarized ourselves with the terms of informational text in our prior lessons on persuasive writing, so today we can jump right into the target.

As with all our skills, we start by examining the language of the target, noting the differences between each level of proficiency on the attached PowerPoint. To be proficient, students must be able to identify and analyze multiple claims, not just one, and offer multiple details. Advanced students will be able to pull the most significant textual details, whereas students not yet proficient may have few or poor quality details. Then I offer tips for success, being sure to present it as review so students do not feel slighted (they have, after all, studied this skill in previous classes). I also remind them that the texts they will be working with this year are more challenging than previous years so they do not feel as though they are wasting their time.

After tips for success, we take a stab at our first practice. While students may feel they are "good" on this skill, my past experience is they actually struggle quite a bit. With this in mind, I select single paragraph excerpts from simple essays to work with this first time. This gives students a higher chance for success (and the resulting confidence), but it also means we cannot practice the full skill, which requires students to identify multiple claims in a text--simple texts just do not have this.

I offer three sample paragraphs (the Paragraph Practice attached to this narrative) for practice. We read the first paragraph together, and I model how I would find the claim and the details. Then I ask students to try the second paragraph with table partners (moving to find self-selected partners, though student preference, would take too long and be less productive). I give them 3-4 minutes to work and then call on partners to share their results, asking for "additions" or "disagreements" to what has been previously said. Many students miss the connection that citations follow logos (logic, or fact-based) details, so we add that to their notes as a reminder. Others mix up claims with pathos (emotion) details, so we review that claims must relate to the whole text rather than just one section.

To close our day, I ask students to identify the claim and details in the final paragraph on their own and submit it as an exit ticket. Students remember earlier errors and correctly note cited facts as details, easily finding the claim as a result.