Evaluate supporting evidence; Explain how evidence supports an idea or point in a text (Inclusive Big Idea #8)

What are students learning?

Reading Informational Text

Grade 8: English Language Arts

Inclusive Big Idea #8: Evaluate supporting evidence; Explain how evidence supports an idea or point in a text

Standard: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced. RI.8.8

How could I teach this?

Think about how instructional strategies and activities can give students multiple ways to engage with learning. One way won’t work for all, so how can you remove and reduce barriers for all students?

  • Information Coding/Text Annotation: Provide the students with a digital or paper copy of the text for the students to mark. Students should then create a coding or annotation system on their own or with a partner to help them mark and understand the text. Provide an example to show how to create information coding. Students are encouraged to “mark up” the text by highlighting important information such as claims an author makes and supporting evidence, definitions, and key vocabulary.For example, the coding system might look something like this:
    • Code: "________________", Meaning: Here is the focus of a paragraph
    • Code: "***", Meaning: This is a fact and detail that supports the focus of the paragraph
  • Graphic Organizer: Use an evidence tracker to record claims an author makes. Teach the skill of evaluating claims using a task analysis. See this TIP Sheet for more information on graphic organizers.
    • Bubble Map: When determining the main idea and relevant details in a passage, a bubble map can help students prioritize information from a text and present it in a visual way to help clarify the relationship between ideas. After reading a passage, ask students to determine what they think the text is about and place that idea in the center of the bubble map. Then have students (individually, in small groups, or as a whole class) brainstorm the supporting details and place those around the main idea. Students may need support in determining which details from the text are meaningful, so have a discussion about how to determine what information is most important to their understanding of a text.
  • Model to Understand: Place an informational text on the interactive whiteboard. Model the process for reading an argument. Read through once for an initial impression. Read/review the argument several times. Annotate as you read. Highlight key terms and important information. Evaluate the evidence. Background information and graphic organizers can support students’ understanding of “reliable” (e.g., provide a list of vetted web sources or authors). Model the process of reading through an argument by answering the following questions:
    • What does the title suggest?
    • Who is the author? Is the author a reliable source?
    • What is the author’s claim?
    • How does the author support the claim with evidence?
    • What is the publication date?
    • What is my background knowledge on the issue?

Don’t stop here! Remember to reduce barriers for all students.

Make reducing barriers a process - take a few minutes to think about your process! Is there a barrier related to:

  • interest or engagement? Think about how to incorporate student’s lived experiences, culture, and interests… 
  • background knowledge? Think about how to highlight key ideas and define key vocabulary… 
  • showing what they know? Think about having options for how they use learning tools and technology to communicate…

For example, one possible barrier is the amount of information that a student needs to hold in mind.

Ideas to reduce this barrier could include:

  • be aware of how much sensory input occurs at once, perhaps offer the option to use headphones
  • show examples and provide answers to check along the way
  • provide templates or graphic organizers
  • allow use of spell checks and other tools 

Use these Inclusive Strategies to help reduce barriers.

Tell me more about this Inclusive Big Idea (I need a refresher)

Brush up on the content of this Inclusive Big Idea. It will help you and your colleagues to understand and teach this content better.

  • The Big Idea: Evaluate supporting evidence; Explain how evidence supports an idea or point in a text
  • Tell me more about… Supporting Evidence
    • The supporting details of informational text are information that helps to clarify the reader’s understanding of the most important points that the author is trying to make about a specific subject. Identifying and categorizing the main ideas within informational text is critical to successful readers. You support your main idea by explaining it, describing it, defining it, or otherwise giving information about it.
  • Tell me more about… Main Ideas
    • The main ideas of informational text are the most important points that the author is trying to make about a specific topic.
    • Identifying and categorizing main ideas within informational text is critical to success because it allows readers to prioritize information in a text. It provides the reader with a framework for understanding and recalling the important ideas in the text.
    • Teaching the Main Idea-- Continuum
      1. Identify the key words of a sentence
      2. Identify key words or topic of a paragraph
      3. Identify the topic sentence of a paragraph
      4. Recognize the explicitly stated point of a paragraph
      5. Infer the main idea of a paragraph
      6. Recognize the relationships among ideas in related paragraphs in longer selections
      7. Infer relationships among ideas in related paragraphs in longer selections
      8. Determine the main idea or central message of an entire text.


Looking for more suggestions? Target student common misconceptions, build on interdisciplinary links, and implement strategies and supports across multiple lessons or units.

Common Student Misconceptions

  • Key Elements: Students may have difficulty prioritizing information within a text to determine the key elements and supporting details. They will need modeling and support to make progress with this skill.
  • Facts versus Opinion: Students may have trouble determining the difference between supporting evidence that is based on facts and that which is based on opinion. Model looking for keywords and other indicators to help them determine the difference.
  • Social Studies/Science: Have students record the key elements and details about the topic or text (e.g., highlighting information, using guided notes, completing graphic organizer, scribe, record).

Everyday Connections

  • Hot Topics! Ask students to discuss changes they think would benefit the school or community. Tell them to include reasons to support their suggestions, making the distinction between personal preferences versus facts and evidence.

Explore other Inclusive Big Ideas to think about the content you are teaching. How can you connect what you are teaching now to what has been taught before or what will be taught in the future?

Other TIES resources:

Inclusive Big Ideas: Standards-based resources for inclusive classrooms | TIES Center

The Inclusive Big Ideas were adapted from resources created by the NCSC Project , a federal grant from the US Department of Education (PR/Award #: H373X100002), However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.

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