Approaches to the Common Core: ARGUMENT VS. EVIDENCE, Step 4

By the end of our previous post, I hope you noticed that we have reached a point where it becomes clear how reading and writing are two sides of the same coin.  You need to be able to identify topic sentences before you can write your own.  In Step 3, students were given arguments and had to provide evidence and explanation to support them.  And we gradually moved into an exploration of how paragraphs are put together.  We looked at effective and ineffective topic sentences (i.e., arguments) on the TLC “Effective Topic Sentences” page, and we practiced generating effective evidence and explanation.  We also evaluated topic sentences and evidence to reinforce how important it is for these two components to be aligned and relevant to each other.

In Step 4, students are given questions and must answer them with arguments and relevant evidence and explanation.  In other words, students need to generate their OWN arguments.

Depending on the grade they’re in, students may need to review RESTATING the question in their response.  Particularly when working on open-ended responses, students should restate the question to ensure that they actually ANSWER it.  We will dive into open-ended responses in more depth in later posts.  For now, one simple approach to reinforce the skill of restating is to set up a two-column chart with a list of questions on the left and space for answers on the right.  NOTE: The questions should begin with either “Why” or “How” in order to set up argumentative as opposed to factual responses.  “Why did George Washington cross the Delaware?” will set up argument that needs evidence and explanation.  “When did George Washington cross the Delaware?” will merely result in a one-sentence factual response.

So, given that students have already had some practice in supporting other peoples’ arguments, the thing to work on in this step is generating their OWN arguments when questioned.

Another handy graphic organizer for practicing this skill is the “Story Detectives” organizer found on the TLC “Analyzing Literature” page.  It looks like this:

ARE YOU A STORY DETECTIVE?  Find evidence to prove your answer!




Answer (Explanation)


Prove it! (Evidence)

(Include page numbers)


EXAMPLE: How do the scoundrels fool people who work for the emperor? (based on “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen)


The scoundrels say that if you can’t see the clothing they design, you must be stupid or incompetent.  The prime minister falls prey to this trick.


“I can’t see anything,” he thought (p. 2). “If I see nothing, that means I’m stupid! Or, worse, incompetent!” If the prime minister admitted that he didn’t see anything, he would be discharged from his office.


NOTE: This organizer isn’t really just for stories.  You can easily modify it for use with other genres.  Also, after you’ve GIVEN students a few questions, see how quickly they can generate their OWN questions about the text.

Check out the TLC “Analyzing Literature” page for additional helpful tools!

About theliteracycookbook

In addition to this blog, I am the creator of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK Website ( and ONLY GOOD BOOKS Blog (, and the author of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK: A Practical Guide to Effective Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Instruction (Jossey-Bass, 2012), LITERACY AND THE COMMON CORE: Recipes for Action (Jossey-Bass, 2014), and USING GRAMMAR TO IMPROVE WRITING: Recipes for Action (BookBaby, 2018). Check out my Website for more information about my consulting work.
This entry was posted in Argument, ELA Common Core Standards, Evidence, Explanation, Reading, TLC Website Resources, Topic Sentences, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Approaches to the Common Core: ARGUMENT VS. EVIDENCE, Step 4

  1. Pingback: CCSS: Teaching Argument vs. Evidence | MiddleWeb

  2. Pingback: Essential Literacy Work Before You Begin Test Prep | The Literacy Cookbook blog

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