Teaching Text Evidence with the book "Blizzard"

  Have you ever been working in a small group or administering a test and students raise their hands to ask, “what does this mean to provide text evidence?” I always tell my students, “that’s how we prove our answer. Text evidence is our proof.” Then I realized, after repeating this over and over, I need to take the time to really explore and teach text evidence directly.   

  There are so many important skills that our kids need to learn in respect to reading comprehension such as retell, author’s purpose, main idea, sequencing, summarizing, theme, characters traits, etc. When reflecting and responding to the questions surrounding these skills students are always asked to provide text evidence to support their claims.

   In order, for us to expect thorough responses we need to create an understanding of what text evidence really means, the vocabulary to respond effectively and time to practice these foundational skills. 

  I decided to create a series of resources on text evidence, featuring mini-lessons, skill practice and application as well as various other extensions surrounding the skill and theme. 

My Mini Lesson

  I think teaching text evidence with both nonfiction and fiction is important. For this mini-lesson I chose the realistic fiction text “Blizzard” by John Rocco. It’s a fun story based on the author’s experiences, through a child’s lens, during the blizzard of 1978.

  Before the lesson begins, I make sure I have my mentor posters displayed and typically a copy next to me that I can refer at the carpet or on the document camera. Some of my favorite mentor posters are included in my text evidence free resource. I also suggest going through the book ahead of time to select some questions you could ask the kids. I would select 5 questions. 

  When you gather with your students, remind them that they will be given questions in which they need to not only answer but be able to prove their answer is right by using text evidence

  I provide questions before I read, especially when I am reading for a specific purpose of comprehension. You can post the questions on the board or on simple sticky notes at the carpet so kids can see. Read the story. Assign a student, groups or partners to specific questions. Have them use one of the sentence starters (included in the freebie) to answer the question using text evidence. 

  Distribute sticky notes to write answers to place under questions on board or have groups just share out. Remind the group/students of what they are responsible for answering. Make sure they know that they will have to provide evidence or proof of when they saw that in the story. I suggest rereading the text so kids can look for those page numbers or specific phrases. 

  Once you have practiced this with your students you can distribute the Text Evidence RACE (Respond, Answer, Cite, Explain) worksheet (provided in freebie) to practice formally responding with text evidence. I would choose one question, and all go through the worksheet together as a class, so students can polish up their responses with support and confidence. Make sure to have the Text Evidence Sentence Starter Poster displayed as a tool for students to use.

  It’s so easy to assume that kids understand these skills or justify briefly touching on their meaning but taking extra time to teach these skills explicitly will pay off, saving you time in the long run, as well as and increasing student confidence and performance. 

  Click on the image below to download this free resource which is a glimpse into my Guided Reading with a Purpose series on Text Evidence with a festive snow theme. 

This FREEBIE is a part of the resource "Blizzard" and also featured in my Text Evidence Bundle with a fun snow theme. Click on either image below to check them out.  

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How to Teach about Equality, Diversity and Compassion in an Engaging Way ❤

Hey there friends, 

    Are you looking for ways to teach about equality, diversity and compassion in an engaging way that resonates with your young students? These conversations and lessons breed confidence and worth in our students and help them own their identity and love who they are. Being culturally responsive inside and outside our classroom will increase our students trust and relationship with us and also provide them with effective tools to use when faced with adversity. 

When I want to talk to students about important and possibly sensitive topics I have a few approaches that I take, that lead to successful conversations. 

  1. I like to talk in a community circle or group on the carpet. I like getting down with my kiddos on the floor. I think when we are grouped together as one, it feels more comfortable and kids are more apt to share, communicate, and ask what is on their minds.
  2. I also try to share a personal experience on the topic. When that doesn't lend itself, I share my feelings, hopes, worries, frustrations, with my perspective. When doing this it is important to not portray your feelings as the right way, but as an opinion... your unique perspective based on your personal experiences. Make sure to let kiddos know that their views, ideas and questions may differ from yours. 
  3. I like to use mentor texts or educational videos as a foundation to inspire conversations, as well as to bring up questions. The goal of  teaching about equality, diversity and compassion is to engage students in these important conversations and to keep those conversations going, so they can lead to action. 
  4. I also allow myself to be emotional. There are topics that I cannot simply shut down the way I feel and I believe that is ok. In my experience this has helped my students to connect with me and to realize that it's an important topic that stirs up emotions in people.  
  5. Last, but not least. There is no wrong time to talk about equality, diversity and showing compassion for others. As I said above, the more we talk, the more these words become a part of our everyday language and then these words can be transformed into positive action.   

    These are some of the resources that I have used that not only speak to equality, diversity and compassion, but also hit on the learning standards of central message, author's purpose, lesson, moral, retell and text connections. These resources have conversation starters, comprehension activities, parent connection support, as well as mentor posters, mini-lesson ideas and other fun extensions for writing and art. 


Again, these are my ideas on how to teach about equality, diversity and compassion in an engaging way. I am always open to hear other's ideas and perspectives. That is truly how we grow as educators, learners and leaders. 

Have a great week,