Sunday, March 5, 2017

Slice 5 of 31-#SOL17: Reasons and Evidence

This is the 10th year that Two Writing Teachers has hosted the Slice of Life Challenge. Thirty-one days of writing during the month of March, here we go!

We have now been teaching argument essay a la chocolate milk for several years. (For those of you who aren't familiar with what I mean with the chocolate reference, it's the main teaching topic that runs through the unit developed by Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. The Units of Study for both reading and writing contain several lessons which center on whether or not chocolate milk should be served in schools.)

Every year, I am struck by how some students grasp the concept of arguing with reasons and others struggle to differentiate between reasons and evidence. And every year someone comes up with something that even blurs the line for me, as well. The fifth-grade standards add that key term about logic, and the correct use of the word because lends itself well toward addressing that extra challenge. 

I've made a few charts about this concept, and the one I'm sharing is my most recent.  A teacher I work with co-created this one with her students, and they found it useful, so I am sharing it here as well.

Most children learn about the concept of why early in their lives, so teaching them by way of the differences in why, what, and how questions is also helpful. If I were going to add something to this chart, it would be that evidence-oriented questions tend to answer what or how.

Logic is tough, and the word because is a frequently misused word, and not just by parents who are frustrated by their toddler and lean on "because I said so." If others have discovered an effective approach of guiding students toward independence in the differentiation between reasons and evidence, please share! 

Happy Slicing,


  1. This chart is great, Melanie! I, too, am struck year after year by students who struggle so much with differentiating reasons from evidence. This chart seems like it would really be useful, especially in small groups, for supporting those students. Thank you for sharing! :)
    - Lanny (not sure why my Google profile is not showing up here-sorry!)

  2. This is a tough one for a lot of kids -- a good broad thesis or claim also seems to help some kids. They often just don't have enough to say on the thesis they chose. The Calkins units talk about twin sentences and a lot kids use that concept to think reasons and evidence as well. So much to think about... thanks for getting thinking and sharing the chart - so helpful to have a visual.

  3. Great chart! Thanks for sharing this and your thoughts around your students being able to think and express themselves with logic and clarity.