Digging in to Find Evidence

We have been really focusing on finding evidence and supporting our answers during our reading of Bridge to Terabithia .  Our discussions, though very lively and thought provoking, have been lacking the "back up" of the book.  The students seem to know what they want to say, and are sticking with the plot of the book, but actually going back into the book and finding where they came up with the answer is a bit tricky.

So this past week we did something that really got the kids digging into the book and looking at their evidence.  I think it was pretty successful, so I thought I would share with you. 

 I gave the students four questions to answer about the chapter (if you are reading Bridge, it was questions dealing with chapter 7) Then, in groups, I asked them to answer the questions, citing at least three different references from the book.  I actually did ask them to quote the story and this is what I got.

You can see, some really understood the direct quote while others....not so much.  And even though some groups really didn't find direct quotes, they were actually looking throughout the book to find where they knew the answer from.  Because of this, answering (and subsequently proving the answers) too a LONG time.

The next day I gathered all of the answers and put them on poster boards so that for each question all 5 group answers, with all of the evidence, were in one place.  The students then got into 4 groups (one per question) and looked at the answers with evidence.  What they noticed was that the answers were similar, but the evidence...not so much.

They then made this chart categorizing the evidence.  They had to decide if it was a direct quote, a paraphrase, or just something that came from someone's head (and inference or recall.)  The students really enjoyed doing this.  Looking back in the book to decide what type of evidence it was really got them discussing and thinking.  They were talking about which was better and why!  I overheard a lot of discussion about how some of the evidence really didn't support the answer and how others did.  They were dissecting it and really getting the meat of the story.   Whatsmore, when we were all done during our class discussion they could really see that the type of evidence that was easier to get really depended upon the question being asked as well!  It was fabulous.

Then, I asked them to reflect upon which type of evidence they thought was most valuable and why.  So eyeopening, for them and for me!

What is something you have done to get your students to dig into a book and look for evidence?


  1. Thanks so much for sharing. We are reading the same book. Great concept.

  2. Great lesson that can be applied in all types of books.

    1. That is really what is great about it, right? I love ideas that can transfer to all different types of books/reading.

  3. I love that your students reflected on what type of answer is better...just taking it one step further-awesome! I sent you a private email with a surprise!!!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  4. I am starting BRIDGE TO T tomorrow with my class! I LOVE this idea. Do you mind me asking what questions you asked?? Thanks!

  5. This is so amazing. Thank you for a wonderful way to teach finding evidence!

  6. I like how they worked in groups and took the lesson a step further to evaluate each group's evidence.

  7. I like how they worked in groups and took the lesson a step further to evaluate each group's evidence.

  8. I'd love to know the questions you asked. We read this book as well. I believe this book will be considered a classic at some point.

  9. We have an old wooden gavel, and I give it to a student when he or she can prove their point in the text. We discuss what evidence is admissible in court, and what is speculation. Then the student with the "evidence" gets to bang the gavel on their book on the page where they found the evidence. Even the most reluctant reader will hurry to be the first to pound the gavel.

  10. I just did this in class and the students are getting really into it! Thank you so much for sharing!


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