What can teachers do to improve students’ comprehension of content-area text?
Page 12: Document Evidence and Consider Perspectives
The next step is to read, to document textual evidence, and to think about the text’s perspectives. The purpose of this step is to allow students to practice reading more carefully as well as to analyze a text’s contents, something that will improve their overall comprehension.
For this step the students will:
- Read the text, multiple times if necessary
- Identify textual evidence that supports or refutes the teacher-generated statements on the Anticipation-Reaction Guide
- Quote or paraphrase the textual evidence, including page numbers, in the column labeled Textual Evidence
Did You Know?
Part of considering multiple perspectives is the ability to consider the source—called source awareness—which is relevant to text comprehension. For example, when studying issues related to clear-cutting a large portion of forest land, students may read two primary source documents—one environmental impact study written by a biologist and one produced by a logging company. They could further their study by reading a U.S. National Park Service memo that cites the need for moderate thinning of the trees in that forest to prevent wildfires.
As with the previous step, students will likely need the teacher to model and guide them in locating and recording relevant textual evidence before they can do so independently. The students may need to read the text once to gain a general understanding of the content and then reread it to examine portions more closely and document the way ideas related to the statements on the guide are presented—a process that leads to close reading. If the students have more than one text passage (e.g., multiple primary sources, more than one perspective), they can repeat this process, including perspectives and page numbers from each source on the guide.
The video below depicts students engaged in Step 2 of this strategy. Note that the students in the video talk about paraphrasing information from the text. This can be difficult for some students so teachers may need to explicitly teach paraphrasing skills (time: 4:12).
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The Anticipation-Reaction Guide below depicts the continuation of the science example from the previous page after completing Step 2.
|Reader’s Perspective Before Reading
|Textual Evidence and Source/Page #
|Reader’s Perspective After Reading
|1. It is regrettable that animals lose their homes when we cut down trees to mine natural resources. However, it is more important that we obtain those natural resources to make the things we want and need to live.
|There were news reports on the great gray owl being endangered by the fire in the Sierra Nevada forest. If we log the trees, it could become extinct.
|Trees and plants of the rainforest are home to animals of many different species. To save trees and animals, we can use alternatives to minerals that must be mined so that trees do not have to be cut down to clear the land for mining.
|Digmon & Churchill, p. 320
|2. It is better to eat food that is grown close to your town than to buy bananas grown in South America.
|We can only buy locally grown bananas at the farmer’s market, and they are very expensive. My sister does not think they taste as good, so we end up wasting more money when she throws them away after a couple bites.
|Some food travels thousands of miles to reach our grocery stores. It takes a lot of resources to ship food from another country to the United Sates. If more people support local farms, prices may become more reasonable.
|Digmon & Churchill, p. 327
|3. Because renewable resources like food, sunlight, and water will replenish themselves, we can use as much as we want.
|There are more and more wind turbines being used for electricity because we cannot use up all the wind like we can oil or coal. If we had a wind turbine in our backyard, my dad said it would not cost us anything to run the electricity in our house.
|Sometimes renewable natural resources cannot replenish themselves as fast as we are using them. For instance, if there is very little rain and too much water is used, some people can be left with no water at all.
|Digmon & Churchill, pp. 323, 325
|4. All paper products negatively affect the environment.
|To make paper, you have to cut down trees. It creates a problem for endangered animals and it also affects our air because we need the trees to produce oxygen.
|Making paper from alternative natural resources like bamboo and recycled cotton can save trees. It can also save the animals that make their homes in trees.
|Digmon & Churchill, pp. 321, 328
Students should be encouraged to actively think about the important concepts and themes across the entire text and not merely to record isolated facts in the order they are encountered. Notice that the textual evidence recorded on the guide above was not necessarily found in sequential order in the text. In addition, statements 3 and 4 had supporting evidence located in more than one place in the text.