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How should students incorporate evidence in a narrative response?

When generating a narrative story in response to reading, students are still expected to cite details from the passages. Whether rewriting from a different perspective, continuing the story, inserting a missing part, or writing fiction based on fact—including evidence from the text is essential in the response.

Define “evidence”

The first step is to recognize that evidence within a narrative response will not use introductory sentence starters like According to this passage… or One detail from the reading…. Since the written product is an actual story, then evidence is the incorporation of information learned from the reading within the story arc.

This unique type of read-write prompt requires kids to demonstrate comprehension within their writing by repeating character, setting, problem, and/or solution details that were gleaned from the original passage(s).

Use note-taking to identify evidence

When first teaching students how to collect potential evidence for this kind of written response, it may be helpful to introduce T-Chart note-taking techniques.

  • Students jot all text details related to characters/people/subject–names, occupations, traits, physical descriptions, etc.
  • Students also note any and all setting information–geographic location, climate, mood, time, etc.
  • Students repeat this process for potential problems/conflicts and solutions/actions.

This collected information noted on the left side of the T-Chart is now fodder for the character(s), setting, and plot within the new original story the student will craft.

If students are expected to write a fictional story based on an informational text, these same categories will still apply. These will become the details that students turn into a fictional writing. People that they read about in a nonfiction text become characters in their own writing. The action or events in the nonfiction text become the problem in the narrative response.

Highlight the evidence

After students have written their narrative responses, give them an opportunity to self-assess the quality and quantity of their evidence. Have them highlight every detail in their own stories that was pulled from the original text(s). The more highlights in their narrative responses the better, as it offers proof that they read and comprehended the original passage(s).

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