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Students Cite Evidence from Informational and Literary Text

Julia St. Martin's tenth-grade ELA class at the Springfield Renaissance School in Springfield, MA uses a fishbowl protocol to practice citing evidence from informational text to support their reasoning. Joining the informational and literary texts enhances understanding of the topic for students.

This video accompanies the book Transformational Literacy: Making the Common Core Shift with Work That Matters.


- [Julia] The first person are those of you who are doing your best to move conversation along--

- [Narrator] The students in Julia’s St. Martin’s 10th Grade English Language Arts class are using a fishbowl protocol today.

- [Julia] Your five minutes begins now.

- In the New York City--

- [Narrator] Their goal? Cite specific evidence from informational text to support their reasoning.

- [Student] And I feel like a big part of the article is talking about the GED. And it says that it assesses reading, critical thinking--

- [Narrator] In class, students have been reading “Fahrenheit 451” along with a collection of informational articles focused on literacy. In the fishbowl, students are asked to discuss specific themes common to both the novel and the articles.

- We were really honing in or focusing on two guiding questions. Why read? And what is a world without books? I expect for us to be really smart and articulate about using this expert text, “New York City Disconnected Youth Literacy Initiative.” I’m also hoping that, today, you could use “Fahrenheit 451” to really push us to have a smart conversation about why read, what is a world without books? We should have the following people in the inner circle, Tiffany, Dmitri. We use the fishbowl protocol today to really allow students, both in the inner circle and outer circle, to feel accountable for the conversation and discussion. Outer circle, here’s what I need you to be really smart about today. I want you to track on your sticky notes the ideas that your peers use that show evidence from a text to move their logic.

- Okay... So with the first guiding question, I connected that to the article about the characteristics of urban schools because it told me that students are less likely to read and do homework and more likely to watch TV. And they also have lower test scores.

- I kinda took that to “Why read?” because if we don’t read, then we won’t have the knowledge that we need to to go out in the world and do other things with it. So then like how in the text how they had to go get their GED, so, yeah.

- [Julia] So Cindy, you’re doing a great job, but I want to again reiterate that I really want to see you guys making smart conversation around a specific type. I want to make sure you know the title of the article and just frame it for us so that we’re all on the same page.

- I took an example from “The Streets to the Libraries,” and it said that--

- We’ve already spent a good two to three class lessons with this text. It was really time to show their understanding of the text and really see a connection to our guiding questions. All right, outer circle! So, you are responding. You are building. You are also holding folks accountable for their use of our expert texts to move their ideas. Annisa.

- Every person that talked, they tried to refer to their text that we got in class and connect it to the guiding questions.

- [Julia] Olivia?

- Something that people could work on is trying to put in the vocabulary words--

- Yes. So round two... When I pick informational texts for kids, I’m thinking about two things, relevance and complexity. One of the informational texts that kids used today was a pretty complex text.

- New York City disconnected youth--

- Kids were really pushed to use data, numbers, and percentage to really rationalize and prove their argument.

- Into middle school or high school, you begin to--

- I also chose a less complex text so that all kids could participate and feel smart about the dialogue that kids were having today.

- In the article, “Ray Bradbury: A Warning to Future Generations,” he talks about how the world stopped asking questions because they’re engrossed in these television shows and books can take you to new places that you never knew existed and open up new ideas--

- [Julia] What I was most impressed with in our students was their ability to support their ideas with a great, sound body of evidence--

- The only reason why people thought books were bad was because the firemen was telling them, oh, there’s nothing--

- [Julia] And kids were also moving themselves towards using events from the novel to support their ideas as well.

- Well, everybody that spoke had great expert text connections. They all knew what they were talking about. They didn’t just like read it and say this connects to this. They actually showed proof.

- Olivia, adamantly jumped in and connected it to the novel very well. And I also want to give a shout-out to Tajah because I think she did a great job of switching the question and also backing it up with good evidence.

- [Julia] Inner circle, begin.

- So I connected “Why read?” and “What is a world without books?” to the expert that came in, Ms. Pfeiffer, the librarian. And she was talking about--

- [Julia] Another interesting thing that happened is kids were using notes that they gathered from an expert who came to our class. I think without the use of their expert notes, kids couldn’t really sound and be as smart around issues of censorship that are presented in the novel. Outer circle?

- Everybody in the whole circle talked, and everybody contributed something.

- I felt like you could use the power word, censorship, because you were, that’s what you were talking about.

- I feel like this group did the best out of all three of us because I saw the power words being used and everyone talked and participated. And it actually flowed like a real conversation. There wasn’t like a pause where no one talked.

- Great. So we’re going to now break into debrief circle. What were some takeaways for the importance of using evidence to move our conversation?

- It’s important to have evidence from different texts and novels because it lets people know that you know what you’re talking about. You searched up what you’re talking about, and like you really care about it.

- It also helped us connect back to the guiding questions, so we can explain what we read and stuff.

- I think our class did really well today with looking at the expert texts and using it in the conversation.

- And I also want to say I like the feedback that people in the outside circle gave because it gave groups after the ones that already gone something to have in mind of what they should improve on or do a little better.

- Excellent.

- It was really good.

- Great job. So just one quick reminder on homework because I do have time. Tonight’s homework, you’re gonna finish reading “Fahrenheit 451,” book one. You have a quiz tomorrow.

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