The Common Core Standards come with a shift that focuses on citing evidence to support inference. In order to address this shift, I have searched through and tried many resources. I have a book that includes images with a short text that describe situations that may or may not be as they appear. These activities require the students to do just that. The activity I like the best is called "Slip or Trip" and is about a potential murder. I put the Slip or Trip Comic image on the board and ask the students to take 5 minutes to write down what they see in the image that may be valuable. This activity will have both image and text, but it is helpful for the students to begin analyzing the image before they know anything about the situation from the text that accompanies it. It will help them to build a relationship between what is said and what information may be left out.
Once students have invested themselves in the analysis of the image, I read the short text that accompanies it. The text describes a situation where a husband and wife have a fight. The wife leaves the house and spends time out with friends. At the end of the night, she invites her friends to join her back at her home. She arrives home before the guests arrive. When the guests get there, she greets them, only to tell them that her husband is presumed dead due to a fall on the stairs.
I ask the students to raise their hands and share with me what they see in the image that seems "fishy" or questionable. One by one, we look at the items the students point out. We maintain the Slip or Trip Rule Chart on my SmartBoard that looks like a T-Chart. On the left side, we write down the evidence the students list. On the right side of the chart, we then create "rules" that correlate with the evidence. Here is the S or T Worksheet.
The students often make statements like, "I don't think she would..." or "It doesn't make sense to me that he..." While the assertions are good, what I am hoping to lead them to do is to make their assertions in third person. I share with them that this point of view will help to increase the credibility of their academic writing. For instance, a student may notice that the wife is currently cooking something on the stove. Students point out that this seems weird, especially considering the fact that her husband is lying on the floor nearby, apparently dead. "Mr. Gearing, I think it's weird that she would be cooking right now. If my husband was injured nearby, in my view even, I would do whatever I could to help him." I respond to this great point by asking this student to try to phrase that in the third person point of view. The student looks at me, puzzled, so I lead her to the desired outcome. "Is it something typical for a wife to ignore an injured or dead husband nearby in order to cook a meal?" She shakes her head, indicating "no" is her response. I then re-word her statement to say something like, "A wife typically would not ignore her injured or dead spouse in order to cook a meal." The whole class begins to nod their heads in agreement with this statement. I then explain, again, that by taking out the personal opinion part, and creating a "rule" that applies to most people or situations, we create a strong piece of evidence that seems to discredit the wife's story. We repeat this process one or two more times, depending on how much of our time for this section of the lesson we have left.
After we have worked as a class to determine 2-3 "rules" regarding the image and story, I ask the students to work in their table groups to write 3-4 more "rules" of their own, following what we have done together. Students are expected to come to class the next day with at least 6 "rules" written. As the groups continue working, I move from group to group checking in on their progress and offering any necessary feedback to continue steering them in the right direction.