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Strengthen text citations in 3 steps

march 8, 2022

Students know that they must include text evidence to support their inferences, and many are familiar with common sentence starters like, “According to the passage…” or “The author states…” And yet many still struggle to write.

Support students by showing them how to craft these sentences. Teach them how to take a sentence starter and how to merge it with key words from the original text.

This process requires 3 individual steps.

STEP 1: Identify which of the author’s words to use.

Have the student return to the text and identify the specific words or phrases that were most relevant or most helpful in proving his point.

For example, in the passage below, the phrases highlighted in green represent the author’s most poignant points from the passage.

“No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.” – Taylor Swift, social media post

Mark those words or copy, paste, and lift them out—adding quotations around them.

STEP 2: Reveal sentence-starter options.

Explain that these sentence stems serve as transitions for the reader. They alert the reader that the student is going from his opinion or inference to author evidence. Therefore, the student will want to “introduce” the text evidence with some version of “The passage states…” or “One example from the text…”.

Taylor Swift stated…
Taylor Swift posted…
A post by Taylor Swift…

The next step is to teach students how to merge these two facets together.

STEP 3: Fill in the gaps.

Model how to merge the introductory phrase and the quoted evidence with additional nouns, verbs, prepositions, and conjunctions. We need them to turn it into a complete sentence. They are NOT explaining or elaborating at this point but merely restating the author’s quoted words in their own sentence construction.

Reveal several different ways to use the same evidence, varying the sentence starters and structures. Emphasize that there is no one right way to generate the sentence.

OPTION 1: A post by Taylor Swift revealed her belief that “a wonderful legacy” is to be known for being “good to people.”

OPTION 2: Taylor Swift stated that “a wonderful legacy” is being “good to people.”

OPTION 3: “A wonderful legacy” was defined by Taylor Swift in a post as someone who was “good to people.”

The ultimate goal is to first create a sentence of evidence by blending the author’s green Reading Voice words with the student’s yellow Thinking Voice restatement. And then second, this evidence must be followed with explanation and elaboration.

NOTE: This article addresses how to incorporate evidence in informative, persuasive, and argumentative responses only. However, the process is different when incorporating evidence in a narrative response.

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