Identify and Evaluate an Author's Ideas

many students are under the impression that when reading informational text then all the ideas and points that are made must be true wrong a lot of informational text is based on an author's ideas beliefs or his argument authors of informational text present their ideas and they support them with specific reasons and evidence to convince the reader but readers should question the author and his reasoning we shouldn't assume everything in the informational text is true you know this is a lot like what we tell students when reading text online just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's true hey just because it's informational text doesn't mean we have to agree with it and find it to be true or just this is the heart of Common Core reading standard number eight or for my Indiana teachers out there this is nonfiction reading standard four point one so how do we teach this thinking to our students well first I'd start with a visual trigger something like this this little pizza box table and it's the same icon that I use when teaching students to write with a main idea and supporting details and evidence students should be able to infer the author's main idea his central idea what's he want us to believe but they should also be able to identify what are the reasons the specific details and evidence the legs that the author provides within the text to support his belief after bringing in that simple pizza box table I know students kind of understand the basic premise of the standard but now it's time for them to practice and I find it easiest to tell students what the author's main idea was tell him this is what the author wants you to believe and then ask them to find the supporting details how does the author help us believe his statement using the table analogy I provide students the tabletop I tell them what the author wants us to think or believe but I ask them to provide the reasons details and evidence of support what does the author put in the passage to prove his idea or information is true so initially I'm doing the heavy lifting I'm providing the inference the author's big idea and asking students to go back into the text and find the legs of support but you'll want to move eventually to students determining both what's the author's point what's his message what does he want you to believe and how does he get you to believe it as students read more and more complex texts one of the things that often happens is there's more than one main or central idea students need to be able to pick out numerous author main ideas and the evidence that supports each for those texts I might use this handout that has multiple tables within it and again students have to identify the multiple central ideas that the author is making and which details which evidence supports that idea this is the notion of delineating which reasons and evidence go with which central ideas it's not just a matter of plucking details from the text they have to pull the right legs to support a particular tabletop and ultimately our older students have to evaluate the informational text they have to go beyond just identifying central ideas and supporting evidence to judging is the supporting evidence strong to hold up the author's belief or main idea that's high level thinking if you think that this tabletop and leg analogy would help your students achieve this standard then check out the corresponding art a at the bottom of the article I've provided you all these lesson resources and some blank templates that students could use as a handout when practicing

2 thoughts on “Identify and Evaluate an Author's Ideas

  1. It is great. Can I use it in my class? I'm teaching students to evaluate information at higher education.

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