We begin planning our scaffolds by thinking about where students may begin—and what we want them to learn. With these goals in mind, we begin thinking about the many ways we will support our students. How will we break down all the steps in between? For example, in fifth grade, my students might begin by knowing how to identify text evidence, but they might not know how to weigh the evidence in order to determine its strength.
After you assess your students’ familiarity with locating text evidence to support their claims, the following scaffolding tips might be helpful to use during your minilessons, small group work, or one-one-one instruction.
Tip #1: “Relate it to Real Life- What is Text Evidence?” Students may need to learn what text evidence means. To teach this, discuss “What is evidence?” and “How do people use evidence in real life?” Next, talk about what text evidence looks like: a quote, plot or event summary, a single detail, or a string of connected, linked details or events.
Tip #2: “Select Text Evidence in Advance” Selecting text evidence in advance is a great way to begin working with it. Talk with your students about how the text evidence supports the claim. What is the role of text evidence? Why is it valuable?
Tip #3: “Inquiry Work” Locating text evidence is not a “one size fits all” approach for every concept you teach. I wish it was! Students will look for different types of text evidence based on the concept at hand. Students need to think about which types of text evidence will help support their claim prior to looking for the evidence. Otherwise, it would be like searching for a needle in a haystack. For example, if your students are studying mood, they might be looking for text evidence that describes the setting, the characters’ responses/actions, or the author’s word choice.
Do some inquiry work with your students. Ask them to examine a variety of pre-selected pieces of text evidence and have them identify what types of evidence they have. This can lead to generating class charts and notes about what types of text evidence they might be on the lookout for.
Tip #4: “Pair Up to Find More!” Once students have identified text evidence that supports their claim, model ways they can go back to the text in search of any evidence they may have left out or did not consider. Pair them up to talk through their choices and any additional text evidence they may have left out. Create a chart or class notes that outlines the steps needed to be sure they have made purposeful choices about selecting text evidence. Modeling the act of going back to the text for MORE evidence is one of the most valuable skills you can teach your students.
Tip #5: “Model! Model! Model! Can it be Stronger?” Model how to weigh text evidence by looking at a claim and ranking the strength of pre-selected text evidence. Model this first, and then have your students write their evidence on sticky notes and order them from weakest to strongest. (Here you can see the student ranked hers from 1 (the weakest) to 5 (the strongest. She was analyzing the mood in the book A Nation’s Hope.) Discuss their ideas. What makes some evidence stronger than others.
I enjoy planning scaffolding strategies for my units and lessons. Just like the mama bird, we want our students to fly.