Teaching students to cite evidence from the text can be tricky but is so essential for upper elementary students. Today, I’m sharing one idea for helping introduce your students to the idea of citing evidence accurately.

Yesterday, we spent our small group time reading a passage, discussing it, and completing a graphic organizer. Today, we focused our time on answering an open ended question about the story. This week, we read about a couple who made a house, church, wishing well, and bathroom out of glass bottles. It was really a cool story!

Before turning them loose, we brainstormed a list of ways that we could describe Bob and Dora. I allowed them to choose one of these options or something they developed on their own.

We’ve been practicing restating and answering the question, so they began there. The first post in this series is all about restating! It can be found here. Then, I handed them a skinny blue Post-It Note and asked them to write their “answer” again on the Post-It. I stressed that EVERYTHING they write from here on out has to be about their answer. 

Then, I gave them a second Post-It Note to write a piece of evidence from the text. This student first wrote, “They collected bottles together.” We were able to quickly discuss that these two things didn’t quite fit together! Collecting bottles didn’t support that they were happy sharing their bottle collection with others. By using Post-It Notes, it was easy to remove it and try again. The second time, he wrote, “Bob and Dora like sharing their collection.”

The Post-Its Notes are also great for helping them skim the text while looking for evidence that fits their answer. I have them stop and stick the Post-It when they feel like they’ve found something. Then, they can easily copy it down. I also have them write the page number in the bottom corner. If we are reading a short passage, I have them write the paragraph number instead of the page number.

In the end, we have one answer with TWO supporting pieces of evidence.

Then, it’s time to begin putting this into an actual answer, which we all know can be the hard part for many of our students. I’ve found with my students, especially my special education students, it is best to give them sentence stems to help get them started. They can easily choose a stem and add a sentence from one of their Post-Its.

I also have a resource to help your students practice this called Choosing and Citing Evidence from the Text. In total, there are ten passages, five that are non-fiction and five that are fictional. They are perfect for helping your students sort evidence and begin writing responses that are based on evidence.

I have another blog post to help prepare your students for high stakes testing! Click the image above to check it out.