In my post yesterday, I discussed Katherine A. Dougherty Stahl’s article What Counts as Evidence from The Reading Teacher. She discusses the need to evaluate texts and presents a couple of criteria to evaluate historical texts that I thought would be helpful when looking at literary texts as well. I decided to put together a graphic organizer that would allow students to track their thinking and evaluate the credibility of a text based on particular data points. From there, I got an idea for a lesson including small groups and various articles that students would evaluate and defend in small and whole group discussions. Below is a quick outline of the idea as well as a link to the graphic organizer if you would like to use it.
DAY ONE: Open up the discussion about how evidence can be credible or not. Who do you trust if you need information about an upcoming school event? The most credible person would be an adult at your school. Who do you trust if you want information about where Janet’s birthday party will be? The most credible person has changed – now you would trust Janet or someone you know who is going to the party. Who do you trust if you need information about a medicine you are going to take? Now you’re going to talk to your doctor to get the best information. Credibility changes based on the question we’re asking and the source of the information.
Tell students they will be evaluating information based on a question you pose. They will read through articles to find out what information makes the most sense to use to answer the question. Your question will be related to the work you are doing in class, but examples might be: What is the most important cause of the Civil War? Are vaccines the best choice for all children? These questions don’t have one clear answer, although there is a wealth of information that could be used to answer them. You should find articles that have different kinds of information and varying answers to these questions.
Pass out the articles and graphic organizers to the students. All students with the same articles should work together to fill in the first part of the graphic organizer.
Click on the picture to download the graphic organizer from Google Drive.
DAY TWO (could be combined with Day One if you have time): Students will get into groups with one person from each article and fill in the second portion of the graphic organizer, which covers the information about the article.
This picture what to do each day with highlighted parts of the graphic organizer. Click the link to go to Google Drive with a full screen version of the graphic organizers.
DAY THREE: Students will work in the same groups from Day Two and work to determine similarities, differences, and credibility of the articles they have covered.
This file has suggestions for what students should be recording in each box. Click the link to go to the Google Drive with a full screen version of the graphic organizers.
DAY FOUR: The whole group meets to discuss which articles are the most credible to use in order to answer the question. This is a time for students to defend and debate their choices. They are welcome to change their minds and mark that on their graphic organizers. The whole group may not all come to the same conclusion, but students should be sure of their own choices.
DAY FIVE: Students use the information they have found to answer the question. That may mean they have a couple of articles of evidence, one, or all.