Evaluating Reading Strategy Lesson Plan UPDATE Mar 13, 2023: Teach students how to EVALUATE and UNDERSTAND ideas when reading. (In other words, we’re looking at CRITICAL THINKING strategies to help students.)
Evaluating is more than just forming an opinion. It’s about making an informed opinion or decision.
Use this lesson to give students a process to help them think critically about the information they read.
- Restate part of the text as a question,
- come up with criteria to judge the guiding question,
- play with the text to reveal other perspectives, and
- try to keep an open mind by starting with the other side.
How to Evaluate when Reading (Critical Thinking) – 4 PRO TIPS
- Restate part of a sentence from the text as a question that includes…
○ a modal verb* (Should… Could … Would… …might…)
○ or a value word (better/worst, more/less, right/wrong, hero/villain)
- Clarify the criteria for evaluating
○ Define the underlying concept word. Make a checklist.
○ Narrow down the list. Identify deal breakers.
- Play with the words to find other ideas. (Ask a similar question, opposite question, or simpler question.)
- Start with the other side. (Try to be open-minded. How might the other side be correct?)
*A modal verb is a helper verb that changes the meaning of a verb to wonder if something is possible.
Use this Evaluating Reading Strategy lesson to explain 3 aspects of critical thinking:
- Use CRITERIA to make rational decisions
- Try to be OPEN MINDED to make unbiased decisions
- Try to be FULL MINDED to make decisions based on the analysis of high quality information
Distance Learning and 1:1 Google Classroom™ ready!
The slideshow lesson is comprehensive, easy to use and includes everything you need for :
- DISTANCE LEARNING or 1:1 LEARNING in Google Classroom
- FACE to FACE LEARNING in your real classroom
In this package, you get:
- strategy and an example of how to use this strategy..
- a generic EVALUATING handout package that can be used with any text. This helps students ask questions before, during, and after reading.
- a metacognition handout/reflection questions to help students reflect on the strategy
- a rubric to assess ideas generated during reading, as well as ideas generated during the metacognition reflection.
BONUS EVALUATING READING STRATEGY LESSON VIDEO:
I’ve recorded the slideshow as a FREE YOUTUBE VIDEO so it’s easier to teach with DISTANCE LEARNING. https://youtu.be/gEsgILYL_lI
IMPORTANT NOTE: This product DOES NOT include a text for students to read!
The package only includes the Evaluating reading strategy lesson plan, slideshow and handouts.
It is intended for teachers to use with a novel or text that they are studying in class.
If you would like to use the informational text in this slideshow about “Service dog not allowed in class to help boy with autism“, you can find the article HERE.
Reading comprehension strategies like EVALUATING help students engage with the text and gain a deeper understanding than just passively reading.
This product is also included in our Reading for Meaning Comprehension Strategies bundle.
Watch the FREE Reading Comprehension Video.
Video Table of Contents
- 0:00 EVALUATING (real-life example)
- 0:23 Introduction to Active Reading and Comprehension Strategy (slides 1-9)
- 1:49 Real life example of Evaluating (slides 10-35)
EVALUATING Reading Strategy Example Part 1 – Modelled Reading with teacher think-aloud (slides 36-68)
- 8:23 4 PRO TIPS to EVALUATING
- 8:28 #1: Restate as a question (slides 36-42)
- 10:05 #2: Clarify the criteria (slides 43-52)
- 12:40 #3: Play with the words (slide 53-63)
- 17:59 #4: Start with the other side (slides 64-68)
20:42 EVALUATING Reading Strategy Example Part 2 Practice – Modelled / Shared Reading with teacher think-aloud (slides 69-115)
- 21:15 #1: Restate as a question (slides 69-73)
- 22:40 #2: Clarify the criteria (slides 74-88 )
- 24:08 CAREFUL: The real underlying concept may not be stated in the text
- 27:55 #3: Play with the words (slide 89-97) *
- 29:56 WATCH OUT: Be aware of how you phrase things
- 31:35 HEADS UP: Be aware of bias!
- 32:30 #4: Start with the other side (slides 98-115)
- 34:19 Be FULL minded
- 34:36 WARNING: Most informational texts are secondary sources of information
36:00 EVALUATING Reading Strategy Example Part 3 More Practice (Your Turn) – Whole Class Shared Reading (with pauses for student response) (slides 116-146)
- 36:22 #1: Restate as a question (slides 116-120)
- 37:42 #2: Clarify the criteria (slides 121-132)
- 40:46 #3: Play with the words (slide 133-136)
- 41:47 #4: Start with the other side (slides 137-146)
- 42:36 Try to be more FULL Minded
- 43:35 SUMMARY (slides 147)
44:26 BIG PICTURE: Reading for Meaning / 21st Century Learning (slide 148-152)
Evaluating Reading Strategy Lesson
Today, we’re going to be talking about the Evaluating reading comprehension strategy.
What is Active Reading?
Now before we begin, let’s talk about active reading. Active reading means we think about the text as we are reading. It takes work to try to figure out what the text means. It takes more work to figure out what we think about that.
If we use strategies, we can get better at reading. Comprehension strategies help us figure out the meaning in a text.
Today, we will use a strategy called evaluating also known as forming opinions.
Evaluating is a strategy we use to judge ideas and information.
Do we really need a lesson on how to form an opinion?
Yes, yes we do. Here’s why:
- Sometimes, we get stuck trying to come up with an opinion. For example, the teacher asks what you think and you say, I don’t know.
- Sometimes, we get stuck trying to explain what we think. So, we give our opinion and then the teacher says, “well why do you think that?” and we say, “I don’t know” and we shrug.
- Or, sometimes it’s the opposite and it’s easy to come up with an opinion because we feel really strongly about the topic. In that case, strategies can help us clarify our ideas or think more critically about them.
Remember, our first reaction is not always right. Shocking, I know.
We have opinions all the time. For example, are cats better than dogs?
- If you love cats, you might say, yes, absolutely.
- If you love dogs, you might say, no dogs are better.
- Or, if you don’t like either of those options, you might say, neither! Birds are better because they can fly.
Let’s see if we can think more critically about these ideas.
What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is about making an informed opinion or decision that is unbiased, rational and fact-based.
Let’s look at some strategies to help us think more critically. We can use criteria, try to be open minded, and try to be full minded.
Criteria help us make a rational decision or a logical decision instead of an emotional decision.
- Criteria is a principal or standard that we use to make decisions.
- It helps us to make consistent decisions.
Being open minded can help us be unbiased about an issue, instead of just relying on our personal instincts.
- Open-minded is the opposite of being close minded.
- It means we wonder how the opposite point of view might actually be right.
We can also try to be full minded.
- Sometimes, we make quick decisions with limited information.
- Being full minded means we try to get high quality information to help us make an informed decision
So, let’s look back at our cats versus dog issue.
Sample Critical Thinking Question: Are cats better than dogs?
Well, it depends on what criteria we’re using to judge which is better.
- Are we talking about which is the better pet?
- What animal provides better security?
- Are we thinking about which animal is a better work animal?
- Are we talking about which one is better tasting?
Let’s pretend in this case, a family is thinking of getting a pet. We need to figure out what we mean by good pet.
Well if you’re a kid in the family, you might say…
- I want a pet that’s cute,
- one that loves me,
- plays with me,
- a pet that’s my friend forever,
- and doesn’t destroy my stuff.
After we brainstorm, we need to narrow down our list of criteria.
- Well, I guess I can accept that you my stuff will get broken because that’s just part of having a pet.
- And, I guess I can combine “be my friend forever” with “love me” forever since they’re kind of the same thing.
Now, we if we’re trying to get rid of one more, do we get rid of “cute”, “loves me forever”, or “plays with me”?
And, this will depend on who you are.
- Some people will think, it doesn’t matter what the animal looks like as long as it loves me and plays with me.
- Someone else might say, look, I just want a cute puppy or a cute kitten that loves me forever. I don’t need the pet to play with me – I just want to snuggle with the cat or dog.
- And, other people might say, you know what, I don’t want a lazy animal that’s just lying around. I want to play with my pet and take it for walks. In that case, maybe you get rid of loves me forever.
In this scenario, let’s get rid of cute. If we rescued an animal and it loves me forever and play with me, then, even if it’s the ugliest creature on Earth, I’ll learn to love it because it’s my pet now.
All right, let’s think about the criteria that a grown-up in the family might say. What makes a good pet?
- Well, a pet that doesn’t cost a fortune.
- And, I don’t want a huge mess.
- I’m really busy, so I want a pet that fits into my life.
- I don’t want the pet to destroy the house and have to spend even more time cleaning the house.
- Oh, I want the pet to be loyal. I want my pet to love me. And my family. But, really me.
Let’s try to narrow down this list. What can we get rid of?
- you know what – if I get a pet, I just have to accept that the pet is going to make a mess and break things. That’s part of having a pet.
Now, let’s combine these two lists together.
Our checklist so far about what what makes a good pet includes:
- a pet that loves me forever,
- plays with me,
- doesn’t cost a fortune,
- fits into my lifestyle, and
- loves me.
Once again, we have to try to narrow down the list to make it easier to use.
- We have “love me” down twice so let’s combine that.
Are there any deal breakers or must-haves in this list?
- A dealbreaker means if we don’t have this item, we don’t have a deal and it absolutely can’t happen.
- A grown-up might say, look, I want to have a pet but if we can’t afford the pet, then we can’t afford the pet. End of story.
- So being affordable would be an example of a dealbreaker.
Now, we have a checklist to help us make a much more informed decision:
- A pet that will love us forever,
- a pet that will play with us,
- a pet that is affordable, and
- a pet that fits our life.
Let’s use this checklist. Are cats better than dogs?
- Well, will a cat love you forever?
- Will, a cat play with you?
- Is a cat affordable?
- Does a cat fit your life?
Everyone will probably have different answers depending on their situation.
What about a dog?
- Will a dog love you forever?
- Will a dog play with you?
- Will a dog be affordable?
- Will a dog fit your life?
Again, everyone will have different answers to that.
So, based on your answers personally, do you think cats are better than dogs? What do you think?
Evaluating and critical thinking doesn’t mean we end up with the same opinion or decision. It just means that we end up with an informed opinion or decision.
Sample Critical Thinking Question: Boy with autism not allowed to have service dog at school
Try this one: “Boy with autism not allowed to have service dog in class”
- strongly agree with that,
- kind of agree,
- disagree, or
- strongly disagree with that statement.
Take a moment to think of some reasons.
4 PRO TIPS for the Evaluating Reading Strategy to help us think more critically as we read.
Evaluating Reading Strategy – Pro Tip #1: Restate part of a sentence from the text as a question that includes a modal verb or a value word.
What do we mean by that?
- A modal verb are words like should, could, would, or might.
- A modal verb is a helper verb that changes the meaning of the main verb.
- How likely could this happen? Is this possible? Is this required? Is this an obligation?
So, let’s try to restate part of this sentence as a question using a modal verb.
- For example, should service dogs be allowed in class?
- Could a service dog be allowed in class for a different reason?
- How might a service dog help a boy with autism?
We are just coming up with questions here to help us form an opinion.
The other way to come up with a question would be to use a value word.
- For example, better / worse, more / less, fair / unfair, right / wrong.
- You could even use words like hero / villain, leader / follower. You get the idea…
- Here are some examples of questions that use value words.
- For example, was not allowing a service dog in class right or wrong?
- Is it fair for one student to have a service dog but not all students?
- Who learns better with a service dog?
So now, we have a bunch of potential guiding questions to think about.
Evaluating Reading Strategy – Pro Tip #2: We need to clarify the criteria for evaluating
We need to define the underlying concept word that we’re going to use to evaluate our guiding question. We need to figure out what’s the point of that word.
Then, we make a checklist.
We narrow down the checklist and we identify any deal breakers.
So, in our scenario, let’s think about the question, should service dogs be allowed in class?
That’s our guiding question.
What criteria are we using to judge whether or not something should be allowed in class?
- Are we talking about the criteria for school?
- Are we talking about the criteria for service dogs?
In this case, let’s think about what a school is. What’s the point of school?
There are lots of answers depending on who you ask 😊:
- some people might say the point of school is to learn skills, to learn how to do things, and to develop attitudes that help us learn.
- Other people might see the point of school is to get ready for life in general.
- Some people might say the point of school to keep the kids occupied so the grown-ups can go to work.
- Other people might say, look, the point of school is to provide an opportunity for everyone.
- One final example might be that schools about having a safe learning space. We see here again this idea about learning.
Now we need to narrow down this list.
- What could we get rid of if we are trying to get down to the core idea of school.
- We might say, well, you know what, keeping children occupied is a lovely bonus but that’s not the main point of school right now.
- And, maybe yes, we are getting students ready for life, but how are we doing that? Well, maybe we’re doing that as we help students learn skills, knowledge and attitudes.
- And maybe that’s a dealbreaker concept: learning is a fundamental requirement of school.
Now, we have a checklist to help us make a much more informed decision about our guiding question.
In our checklist, we have
- school was about learning skills, knowledge and attitudes
- school provides an opportunity for everyone, and
- school should be a safe learning space.
Does having a service dog in class line up with the point of school?
- Does it help students learn?
- Does it help provide opportunity for everyone?
- Does it help provide a safe learning space?
Evaluating Reading Strategy – Pro Tip #3: Play with the words
Modify the sentence or question to see if you can unlock any new points of view.
Here are three ways we can play with the words:
- we can ask something similar,
- we can change the sentence to ask the opposite, and
- we can change the words to simplify the question or simplify the sentence.
Let’s look at our example here and try to ask something similar.
- The original sentences is “boy with autism not allowed to have service dog in class”
- What if instead of saying a “boy with autism”, it said a “blind student” was not allowed to have is service dog in class.
- Does that change anything? Does that sound odd to you?
The phrase we changed was “boy with autism” and we changed that to “blind student”
- What is similar between these two phrases? Well, they’re both students with disabilities.
- What’s different between these two phrases? Well, one student is blind and it’s probably easy for people to recognize that the student has a visible disability. On the other hand, it may not be obvious to other people right away that a boy with autism has a disability. It’s more like an invisible disability.
When you play with the words this time, try to change the words into the opposite.
- So instead of saying a boy with autism is not allowed to have what he needs in class,
- what if we said only students with service dogs are allowed to have what they need in class.
- Does the opposite scenario sound odd?
The concept that we made opposite here was
- originally students without service dogs were allowed to have what they need to learn in class,
- and now, we changed this so only students with service dogs are allowed to have what they need to learn in class.
What’s similar between these two phrases?
- Again they’re both students and they both go to class to learn and both groups needs things in class that help them learn.
- What’s different between these two phrases? Well, whether or not the student has a service dog.
- Does it seem fair if you don’t have a service dog, you don’t get to bring what you need to be successful in class? Well no, how are these students supposed to learn?
- So then if we go back to the original scenario, how are students without their service dogs supposed to learn if they can’t bring what they need to learn? I don’t know.
- We’re just playing with words here to try to unlock a different way to think about things.
Finally, a third way to play with the words is to try to simplify the scenario.
- For example, instead of saying “boy with autism” not allowed to have service dog in class,
- what if we said “students” not allowed to have <blank> in class.
Let’s go back to that strategy of asking something similar and just play with the words here.
What if the sentence read, students not allowed to have phones in class. Does that change anything?
- Some people might agree and say that a phone is a distraction.
- Other people might say phones are just a tool and they can help us to access the Internet or do work in class, too.
What if the sentence read, student not allowed to have pencils in class? Does that change anything?
- Well, yes, it sounds kind of ridiculous because everyone needs a pencil.
- Well, if you can’t have a pencil in class, maybe there’s a different way to do things. Maybe, you could use a pen or computer to record information.
What if the sentence was students not allowed to have calculators in class?
- Maybe that makes sense because you’re trying to encourage students to do mental math without depending on a calculator.
- On the other hand, at some point calculators are just a tool. It can help you get the simple numeration stuff out of the way so you can focus on more complex mathematical ideas.
What if the sentence said, student not allowed to have erasers in class?
- Does that mean that you can’t make mistakes in class because you can’t erase them?
- Maybe it would be harder to learn without having access to erasers because then you’re spending so much time scratching things out.
- Or, you might say that not having erasers in class is not a big deal because you can just scratch out the answers.
What if the sentence was students not allowed to have glasses in class?
- I guess some students wouldn’t care about this because they don’t need glasses. So this rule wouldn’t apply to them at all.
- Maybe students who need glasses would be at a disadvantage?
- Maybe students could just sit closer to the board so they could see what the teacher was writing? Maybe someone to copy out the notes for people who couldn’t see the board?
The point of playing with words is to change things up so we can see if we can discover other points of view.
Evaluating Reading Strategy – Pro Tip #4: Start with the other side
Wonder how the other side might be correct.
Everyone can be close minded at some point. This is about trying to open our minds and trying to accept new perspectives.
The issue were thinking about is this headline, boy with autism not allowed to have service dog in class.
Do you agree or disagree with this idea?
If you disagree and you think that the boy should be allowed to have his service dog in class then come up with a good reason why a dog should not be allowed in class.
- Why might having a dog in class be a really bad idea?
- What could go wrong?
- Who might be at a disadvantage?
- Okay, what if you’re afraid of dogs or what if for you’re not allowed to have a dog as a pet because of religious beliefs or because you have serious allergies.
- Would those students be at a disadvantage?
On the other hand, if you agree with the sentence, “boy with autism not allowed to have a service dog in class” then come up with a good reason why the service dog should be allowed.
- Why might having a service dog in class be a great idea?
- What could go right?
- Who might be at an advantage?
- Well, the boy with autism would probably learn more or learn better because he has his service dog with him. Is it an advantage compared with not having his service dog? Probably. Is in an advantage over other students? I’m not sure.
- What could go right? Well, may be the boy with autism learns better.
- Why might having a service dog in class be a great idea? Maybe other students get to see how the service dog works? Maybe it helps build acceptance of different people?
Finally, if you don’t care about this issue at all, then try to think of the opposite and come up with a good reason why you should really care about this.
- Why might people feel so strongly about this?
- What might someone have experienced that makes them close minded about this issue?
- Well, maybe people feel strongly about this because they have a dog allergy or their kid has a dog allergy and they don’t want their kids to be near a dog.
- Or, maybe someone knows someone personally who needs a service dog in their life and if they weren’t allowed to have the service dog in a public space, then this make them mad because this is something they feel they have a right to have.
Alright, practice time.
Let’s look at an informative text about this issue.
The title of the article is “Service dog not allowed in class to help boy with autism”
We just spent some time exploring that issue, so let’s go into the next sentence.
“In Canada, a human rights tribunal said it was okay for school to deny a boy with autism his service animal in class.”
Now there’s more to this paragraph, but there’s a lot to take apart in this first sentence, so let’s think about this for a bit.
Evaluating Reading Strategy – Pro Tip #1: Restate part of a sentence from the text as a question that includes a modal verb. (For example, should, could, would, or might.)
We might say something like
- Could this happen in my country?
- A tribunal’s like an informal court. Would a different court give a different answer?
- Or maybe the question is, “Should a human rights tribunal say this was okay?”
Pro Tip #1 is also about coming up with a question that includes a value word. (For example, better, less, fair, wrong all include values.)
We might ask something like
- Is Canada a better place because of this decision? Is this a step in the wrong direction for Canada in terms of human rights?
- Will this ruling prevent more people from reporting this type of issue? I mean, what’s the point? Schools can just get away with things like this.
- What about, how do courts and tribunals make things fair?
Let’s focus on one question. Right now, our guiding question will be, “should a human rights tribunal say this was okay”
- As in, should a human rights tribunal say it was okay for the school to prevent this kid with autism from bringing his service animal in class?
Pro Tip #2 We need to clarify the criteria for evaluating.
So, we need to define the underlying concept that we’re going to use to evaluate or judge our guiding question.
We have to come up with a concept word.
- I see the phrase “human rights tribunal” in the guiding question so let’s start with that.
- What’s the point of a human rights tribunal?
- If we Google it or find a definition of this phrase we find out that a human rights tribunal is like a court
- Okay. If we keep looking, it turns out that a human rights tribunal specifically deals with claims of discrimination.
- I think we need to figure out what discrimination is because then we can figure out for ourselves if we agree or disagree with this human rights tribunal. Did they make the right call?
What’s the point of discrimination?
- Well, it’s kind of an odd way to phrase it but basically discrimination is about putting people down because they’re different from us.
- If we look up the definition of discrimination, we see something about unfair treatment based on a category of people.
- By category of people, we could be talking about race, gender, religion or a person’s ability or disability.
- When we talk about unfair treatment, this could be about excluding people, denying them something good, or imposing an extra burden and making it harder for people in this category to succeed.
You need to make sure that you get to the real underlying concept that you’re trying to evaluate in your guiding question.
- This core concept may not be directly stated in the text
- In this example, in order to answer the guiding question, the concept we need to really understand is discrimination.
- But that word discrimination isn’t in what we’ve read so far.
To summarize what we did,
- We started with a word from the text. In this case, we started with “human rights tribunal”
- then, we defined the word.
- A human rights tribunal’s like a court.
Does thinking about a court help us to answer our guiding question?
- Should a human rights tribunal say this was okay?
- Well, a court makes decisions to figure out if things are fair.
- But we don’t know whether something is fair or not fair because this tribunal rules on issues of human rights.
- So, we have to dig a little deeper with this definition. We keep on defining the word until we get to the big issue.
- In this example, we figured out that a human rights tribunal is about dealing with claims of discrimination. So, they deal with issues where people feel they’ve been discriminated against.
- Really, we need to figure out what discrimination is.
When you’re figuring out a key concept to answer your guiding question, you need to stop and check your work.
- The real underlying concept may or may not be directly stated in the text
- When you think you figured out the key concept word, you need to double check that key concept word helps answer your guiding question.
- In our example, knowing about discriminations help us figure out whether this human rights tribunal should have said it was okay or not okay for a school to deny a boy with autism their service animal.
Evaluating Reading Strategy – Pro Tip #2: We are clarifying the criteria and now we’re going to make a checklist.
Just copy down our ideas about discrimination and then we narrow down the list.
Sometimes, it may not be possible to narrow down the list because you only have a few key ideas in there.
- In our list, we only have two criterion. Discrimination is 1) unfair treatment that’s 2) based on a category of people.
- We have different examples of unfair treatment but they’re just examples
- We also have different examples of categories of people, but again, there just examples.
- So, there’s not much to narrow down here.
Are there any deal breakers or must-haves? Is there anything here that we can get rid of?
Well, if we got rid of unfair treatment, then is it really discrimination?
- People were treated fairly.
- That’s like the opposite of discrimination, so we can’t get rid of unfair treatment.
- This is kind of a dealbreaker. Something has to be unfair treatment for it to be considered discrimination.
Can we get rid of category of people? Let’s see what it sounds like.
- If we said discrimination is random unfair treatment but not based on a group of people then it’s just unfair treatment.
- There is no pattern. It’s not a pattern of disadvantage for a group of people because of who they are.
- So, this is probably a deal breaker, too.
So here’s our checklist to help us decide if we agree that the human rights tribunal should be okay with what the school board did. Remember, coming up with criteria doesn’t mean that everyone will come up with the same answer in the end. It does mean that we are trying to be rational and logical in our decision-making process.
Evaluating Reading Strategy – Pro Tip #3 is about playing with the words.
Let’s modify the sentence or question to see if we can unlock any new points of view.
We can play with the words by asking something similar, asking the opposite or simplifying the scenario.
Let’s try to ask something similar.
What if instead of saying “service animal” we said the school denied a boy with autism “from attending class at all”
- does this change anything? Does it sound wrong if you said a kid with a disability couldn’t come to class at all?
What if instead of saying “human rights tribunal”, it said “person in charge”?
- This makes me wonder if there’s anyone in charge of a human rights tribunal? Or can a human rights tribunal say whatever they want?
We could also make something into the opposite
Canada is a democracy. That means people vote and choose who they want to lead them in government.
What’s the opposite of democracy? Would that be a dictatorship? A country with a totalitarian regime?
What if we said, “In an undemocratic country, a human rights tribunal said it was okay for a school to deny a boy with autism his service animal in class.”?
How does that sound?
- Well, would you really expect human rights to be respected or protected in an undemocratic country?
- No. People in power can do whatever they want if they are a dictator.
- In this case, Canada is a democracy. People vote for their leaders. These elected officials control the systems and laws that affect all Canadians…
- If you see examples of discrimination that are built into a system, then being an active citizen means participating in your community to make it better.
- In other words, if you see something, say something. I imagine people who live in a country with a dictator don’t have that opportunity.
Okay, we need to watch out with how we communicate.
We have to be aware of how we phrase things.
How we say things may impact others in ways we haven’t considered.
We want to make sure that we are not diminishing the atrocities of real-world dictators by comparing their horrible actions to a much smaller issue. For example, earlier I talked about a general undemocratic government instead of naming a specific individual or country.
We play with opposites to help us see a different side of an issue, but we always have to be conscious of how we phrase things – especially when we’re trying to think critically about controversial issues.
Let’s try another example. Another way to ask the opposite question might be to wonder what’s the opposite of “human rights”?
- Well, I know human rights can be taken away – maybe in wars?
- So what if we asked, should a war crime tribunal say this was okay
- Well, that kind of sounds like an odd question. This isn’t a case that a war crime tribunal would even look at. It’s kind of like going to a phone store and saying hey, can you help me fix my bicycle? I think something is wrong. Well, we specialize in phones here – I don’t really know anything about bicycles.
- I guess in the same way, “should a war crimes tribunal say this was okay?” Well, this isn’t something that a war crime tribunal would take care of – it’s not the right issue for them.
Let’s try to simplify the question
What if instead of saying that the school denied this boy with autism his service animal in class, what if the sentence read, “In Canada, a human rights tribunal said it was okay for a school to discriminate”
We’re just trying to simplify the idea here. How does that sound?
We have to be aware of bias in how we phrase things because we could also simplify the sentence this way:
“In Canada, a human rights tribunal said it was okay for a school to make fair but unpopular choices”
and that slants the question in a very different way
so now I wonder, was refusing a boy with autism access to HIS service dog this discrimination or was it not discrimination but people don’t like that answer?
Playing with words helps us gain a deeper understanding of an issue.
Evaluating Reading Strategy – Pro Tip #4: Start with the other side
Let’s try to be open-minded. Based on what you know so far, is this discrimination?
If we only look for information that proves our point, then we might be close minded.
We also have to
- choose to look for information that supports the other side of the issue and then
- wonder how that information might actually be correct.
So in this scenario, let’s say we see the word “deny” in the sentence and in our checklist we see the word “deny” – as in denied benefits. So maybe, this is unfair treatment.
And I can see here, it says boy with autism and I know people who have autism spectrum disorder are a group of people. Autism is a recognized disability protected by human rights here in Canada, so then it seems like this is unfair treatment based on a category of people.
So now, we have to wonder what how might this actually be an example of fair treatment.
- What if he was denied something that wasn’t a benefit?
- If we play with the sentence, and we change the sentence to say the school denied the boy with autism his stuffed animal toy – does that help us to see it from a different angle?
- Is it unfair treatment for a school to deny a kid their stuffed animal? Could a stuffed animal be considered a denied benefit?
Remember, critical thinking is about using criteria to help us make more logical rational decisions.
It’s about trying to be open-minded, thinking about our biases, and trying to be unbiased.
But it’s also about being full-minded.
We’ve done some great active reading here, but we’ve only read two sentences so far.
If this is the only information we know about this topic, then our minds might be kind of empty.
We need more information from the article to be more full-minded.
Using the Evaluating Reading Strategy is an ongoing thing, you know?
Most informational texts are secondary sources of information. What does that mean?
A primary source of information comes straight from the source – people who are directly involved with an issue or an event. A secondary source of information is one step away from a primary source of information.
The author of an informational text is usually not directly involved with that issue or event. They’re writing about the topic to explain something to the reader. A textbook, article on the internet, or an article studied in class might include information from primary sources, but the author has done some thinking of their own to figure out how to best explain this issue to the reader.
In other words, the author of the text gets to choose which quotes and which facts you get to read in the article. They’re providing a layer of analysis (or a filter of analysis) before you even read about this issue.
So, if we want to be full-minded about this issue, as we read the article…
- we need to think about what information we might be missing and then
- we actually have to go out and try to find the missing information straight from the primary source,
- and of course, we have to try to keep an open mind as we digest that new information.
More practice – your turn to try the Evaluating Reading Strategy.
Here’s the next sentence:
“The ruling is controversial. It has sparked debate over service dogs in school. it also shows barriers that students with disabilities face in the education system.”
What do we do first?
We restate part of the sentence from the text as a question that includes either a modal verb or a value word.
- Let’s come up with some questions right now that use a modal verb.
- Pause the video.
- Now, brainstorm some questions that include part of the text and the value word.
- Pause the video.
Okay, we have a list of questions that we’ve brainstormed. Now, choose one question to focus on. (As we continued to read the text, you may decide later on that there’s a bigger issue to think critically about. It’s okay to change your guiding question later on.)
- So, what is your guiding question for right now?
- Pause the video.
What do we do next?
- Pro Tip #2 – we’re going to clarify the criteria that we will use to judge this question.
How do we do that? What are four steps we can use to clarify criteria?
- First, we need to identify and define the underlying concept word
- Then, we take our brainstormed ideas and we make a checklist.
- Next, we narrow down our checklist to just the most important criterion.
- Finally, we identify any deal breakers or must haves.
So, take a moment right now to try to identify your underlying concept word.
- Look at your guiding question.
- Try to figure out what’s the key underlying issue that we really have to understand in order to be able to answer our guiding question well.
- Pause the video.
Okay, this is an important place to stop and check.
- Look at your concept word.
- Does defining that word help you answer your guiding question?
- If it doesn’t, you need to keep on defining that word until you unlock a better concept word.
Once you’ve identified the underlying key concept that you need to explore, it’s time to define that word and clarify your understanding of it.
- Define your concept word.
- What’s the point of that word?
- Pause the video.
Okay, so now let’s make a checklist from our definition.
Is there anything on that checklist that we can remove to try to get our checklist down to 2-3 items?
- What can you get rid of or combine?
- Take a moment right now to do that.
- Pause the video
Welcome back. Are there any deal breakers or checklist items that have to be in your checklist. This means if what you’re thinking about doesn’t have this checklist item, then it doesn’t really fit into your concept word.
- Circled the really important checklist items. The must haves.
- Pause the video.
Now, we have our criteria checklist. What do we do next?
Pro Tip #3: We play with the words to see if we can discover other points of view.
- How do we do that?
- What are three ways that we talked about to modify the sentence or question?
- ask something similar,
- ask the opposite, or
- simplify the question.
What new ideas can you find using this strategy?
- Take a moment right now to look at your guiding question and the text we read from the article.
- Play with the words and see how things sound.
- Pause the video.
Now what do we do?
- Pro Tip #4 we start with the other side and we try to be open-minded.
- Look at your guiding question.
- If you agree with your guiding question then come up with a good reason how the opposite might be true.
- And, if you disagree with your guiding question then look at the criteria checklist and come up with a good reason how the opposite might be true.
- Either way, you need to wonder how the other side might actually be correct.
- Pause the video.
Okay, what do we do now?
- We try to be more full minded.
How can we be more full minded?
- We can read the rest of the article.
- We have to remember that informational texts are secondary source of information. It’s a great place to start when were thinking about an issue, but we should also go to the original source and see for ourselves what happened.
- In other words, we have to try to find primary sources of information as well.
What does that mean?
- What are three things we can do?
As we read the secondary article…
- we figure out what information or points of view might be missing
- then, we choose to go out and find the missing information, and
- while we get new information, we try to keep an open mind.
Let’s summarize the Evaluating Reading Strategy.
- Pro Tip #1 – Restate part of the sentence from the text as a question that includes either
- a modal verb or
- a value word
- Pro Tip #2 – Clarify the criteria for evaluating our guiding question.
- This means identifying and defining the underlying concept word,
- making a checklist,
- narrowing down the list, and
- identifying any deal breakers.
- Pro Tip #3 – Play with the words to find other ideas.
- We could ask a similar question, opposite question or a simpler question.
- Finally, Pro Tip #4 – Start with the other side.
- Try to be open-minded. Wonder how could the other side be correct?
BIG PICTURE: Evaluating and 21st Century Learning
Evaluating is one of the many strategies and skills we use when we read.
We live in unprecedented times where things are too close to call, people are divided and emotions can run high.
Evaluating and Critical Thinking are things we do in life, and when we read… Thinking about the information we get and our own biases help us survive and thrive in today’s changing world.
One 21st Century Learning Competency that will help us get through today’s reading challenges and tomorrow’s tough obstacles is our personal character.
One way to make our character stronger is to actively choose to be in a growth mindset. This means accepting that we are not always right. No one is. In fact, not getting something right is an opportunity for us to change our thinking when we get new information. We have to choose to learn from our mistakes.
The Evaluating Reading Strategy and Evaluating in general are important 21st Century Skills.
- Considering alternative ideas is a key part of trying to get to an unbiased decision. We need character to be willing to look for our biases and accept our errors or weaknesses.
- Active citizenship means helping our community to become better. We need to evaluate what we know about our community so we can make informed decisions about how to improve our local and global communities.
- Collaborating is not about executing a plan as a team. It’s about working together to create the plan. We need to evaluate ideas from our group to decide which ones will help us reach our goals.
- Everyone communicates, but not everyone communicates well. Communication is a two-way street. We need to appreciate who our audience is in order to evaluate how to communicate effectively. We also need to evaluate when an issue is a deal-breaker that we need to be assertive and hold our ground, and when we should pick and choose our battles and let an issue go.
- Creativity is not just about art. We need to be creative to solve problems. And, we need to evaluate our ideas to identify what we already know so we can try to draw upon our life experiences to innovate and come up with ideas we haven’t thought of yet.
- Finally, Critical Thinking is key when we evaluate and form ideas. We are bombarded by information from the internet, the news, social media, friends and family. We need to think about the things we find out to see if it’s high quality information, or if it’s misinformation or disinformation.
What does Evaluate mean in Reading?
Evaluating is a comprehension reading strategy to help students understand the text.
Students can use these 4 pro tips to make informed decisions and opinions about the text.
Evaluating is a higher-order thinking skill on Bloom’s Taxonomy.
The evaluate / understanding reading strategy is included on this different reading strategies list.