Creative Ways to Teach Students How to Find Text Evidence

Using text evidence to support claims does not always come naturally to our students. When students answer a question or write an essay, they often will make a claim, but fail to back it up with sufficient evidence. This is such a critical ELA skill because we require it of students in so much of their writing. The problem is that having students find text evidence isn't always the most exciting task, but there are some creative ways that you can have students practice this important skill.  Below, you'll find my favorite ways to help students go back to the text to find the evidence they need to support their claims.

1. Give Them a Reading Challenge

One way you can get students to practice finding text evidence is with a reading challenge activity. A reading challenge is a short escape-room style challenge that requires students to work together to solve a mystery.

I always begin a reading challenge lesson with some direct instruction to show students how to find text evidence. I explain what constitutes text evidence and show examples of the different types (i.e., direct quotes, paraphrasing, summarising). Then, once they have a foundation, I have them demonstrate their skills with a fun, escape-style text evidence challenge. 


For the text evidence reading challenge I use, students assume the role of an avid explorer and anthropologist who is exploring the jungle in search of fabled Aztec ruins and artifacts. They have to imagine they are walking on a thin path enshrouded by thick, impenetrable vegetation when they discover a pack of snarling and vicious-looking jaguars is on their trail. 

I hook the students students into the challenge by having them read an original narrative backstory that sets them on the path to becoming text evidence hunters! They will examine the writing in an old leather-bound journal to find text evidence to support six given claims about what’s written inside. To escape danger via a gondola, they will need to find out how many pieces of text evidence there are to support the claims, revealing a mystery code. 


The text evidence reading challenge is an extremely comprehensive and entertaining way to refine these skills!

2. Introduce the RACE Strategy 

The RACE method is a reading response strategy formed out of the acronym R-A-C-E, which serves as a helpful mnemonic device to use when formulating a response. A strong response will (R)estate the question, (A)nswer the question, (C)ite evidence, and then (E)xplain the connection. Here’s what this looks like in more detail… 

  • (R)estate: During this part of their response, students should use the question stem to write their topic sentence. This means that they will turn the question asked into a statement. 
  • (A)nswer: After students have restated the question, they should answer ALL parts of the question, keeping in mind that some questions may have more than one part and that they may need to separate the question into two responses.
  • (C)ite: It is at this point that they must support their answers by citing text evidence. This can be an explanation of an event from the text or specific quotations that support their answer.
  • (E)xplain: Finally, they should explain or expand on how the evidence from the text supports their answer. They can also use your own background knowledge here to make connections.

I like to teach students the RACE method to help them see the role that textual evidence plays within a well-constructed response. Then, I give them the opportunity to practice using this response method. My favorite story to use this with is Raymond’s Run by Toni Cade Bambara. Given the story is itself about a race, it makes for a particularly fitting context to learn the RACE strategy! 

3. Have them Solve a Reading Mystery  

Another creative way to get students to practice finding and using text evidence to support their claims is with a reading mystery. For these, students work together in small groups, using text evidence strategies to solve high-interest mysteries, like the Mystery of the Missing Garden Gnome, which you can try for FREE by clicking here. Here’s the backstory…

Mrs. Henry lives alone with her dog in a small South Florida home. Her most prized possession is her garden gnome which she has named Gerome. After returning from groceries one night, Mrs. Henry notices that the garden gnome is missing from her yard. Someone stole Gerome, and your students need to figure out who did it.

Along with the narrative backstory itself, students are given various pieces of evidence to draw on to support their claims about who they think did it, such as a social media profile, a package delivery information page, an airplane ticket, a customer feedback form, a newspaper article, and much more! This makes for a great hands-on way to practice reading between the lines and finding text evidence. It’s also extremely fun—and free!

4. Send Them on a Text Evidence Scavenger Hunt  

A text evidence scavenger hunt is a fun and easy-to-implement activity that will help your students get good at finding text evidence. To do this, simply put up pieces of chart paper around your room, and write a different claim about the text you are reading on each one. For example, if you are reading “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, one claim could be “The narrator of the story is unreliable. 


Then, in small groups, students will circulate the room with the story in hand. They will need to find text evidence that supports each claim and then write it underneath. Tell students they cannot use the same text evidence that was used previously by another group. This makes the activity increasingly challenging as they get to one claim which has, say, 4 examples of text evidence already used. 

5. Ask Them to Color-Code Responses

Instead of having students write out their responses, we can isolate the skill of finding text evidence with a color-coding response activity. For this, students will be given a list of comprehension questions. To answer each question, they will simply highlight the text where the evidence for the answer is. 


They can color-code their responses by using a variety of highlighter colors and highlighting the corresponding question the same color as the answer. This is just a creative and unique way to practice this skill that will make it interesting for students while also emphasizing the importance of finding text evidence. It's also an activity that takes less time, but still allows students to practice the skill.


There you have it! If you are looking for more creative ways to teach students how to find text evidence, check out the links below.  

Tips for Teaching Students How to Show Evidence from the Text by Tracee Orman

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