After assessing my students again, I noticed that they are still having trouble matching character traits to the corresponding text evidence. They actually are doing a good job of paraphrasing the sentence, but I want them to quote the evidence from the text so today we back up and have a discussion about what text evidence is exactly.
We begin this discussion with a quickwrite that the students find on their desks when they come in. I give the a couple of minutes to complete it and then we discuss it. They can all tell me that text evidence comes from the text. They can all tell me that they use it to support the answers from their heads (Our formula to answer a question is TTQA, answer from your head, sentence from the book).
What they can't tell me is what it looks like or how to reference it in their answers so I know that the activity I have today is going to help that.
The first part of this activity involves the reading of two articles from Time for Kids. These articles are about two kids who are doing great things in the world. Both of these kids show a lot of character traits that my students can identify and relate to.
A note here: Both of these articles are short, so I copied them on one piece of paper to save trees.
I pass out the articles and have the students read them making notes to themselves in the margins of possible character traits and corresponding evidence. After they read it through a few times, I explain the next activity to them. I purposely don't want to discuss the articles or the character traits so that I don't influence the students' thinking or ruin the card game they're about to play. I just want them to have some background knowledge of the articles and the text evidence they are going to see.
I pass out the game cards to each group. The rules of the game are simple- like Concentration or any Memory game they've played before. They separate the cards into traits and evidence and, in two groups, lay them out flat. On each turn, a student draws a trait and an evidence card and reads them to the group. They then have to decide if that piece of evidence matches that trait and then the group has to agree. If it is a match, the player gets to keep the card and goes again. If it's not a match, the player replaces the cards and the next person goes. Play continues until all cards have been collected.
After each group has made all their matches (this took my kiddos a while!), we discuss the way the cards should have matched up and why each pair goes together.
A note here: There were some cards that could be matched in more than one way, but there is only one correct way to match them all, so I start with the traits that have only one match.
This discussion also takes a while as my students like to debate and disagree with each other which isn't entirely bad!! We get through it and then I ask them why we played this game. Of course they say, "To help us find text evidence". I answer them yes, but I tell them that it's more than that. I want them to understand that I mean the text evidence is the exact sentence. My hope is that by removing the rest of the text, the idea of text evidence pops out for my students.
I send home the article and the chart we've been using to record traits and evidence home for homework with the instructions that they cannot use my words from the game. They must come up with their own words to describe these two kids.