Finding Evidence in a Scientific Article to Support a Claim

Use the tools in this strategy to support students to find evidence in a scientific text
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About This Strategy

This strategy helps students to find evidence in a scientific text to answer an investigative question. The focus is to help science teachers activate students’ prior knowledge, and hone student comprehension and annotation skills.  It can be used when science teachers want to engage students in gleaning evidence from an article. The secondary goal is to assist teachers in a systematic approach to annotation. It is effective because it prepares teachers and students for reading the article, understanding it, and converting it into usable evidence.   

Implementation Steps


1. Identity texts for students to read to help them answer an investigative question. 

  •  Resources to consider finding articles are included in the resource section below

  2. Activate students' prior knowledge before reading the text. 

  •  Consider a graphic organizer, such as the one in the resource section below.  
  •  To encourage pre-reading skills, consider asking students what the title means, or making predictions regarding what it is about.  Also ask  investigating questions and  questions about captions.  Teachers can also ask questions about diagrams of  integral vocabulary illustrations, and science concepts.
  • To further pre-reading skills, think about using visualizations, drawings, matching concepts and open ended questions. 

3. Direct students to work with their partner to determine what the claim is in the article. These recordings can be shared with the rest of the class on a collaborative board. 

  •  Students individually, or as a group,  record their predictions about the claim of the article on a sticky note.  
  • Include moments for students to turn and talk about their responses
  • Make opportunities for students to draw on handout diagrams.
  • Encourage students to share their discoveries with the rest of the class

 4. Create guiding questions that the students will focus on during their reading that help them to identify evidence to support the claim in the article.

  • Consider also creating a graphic organizer such as the one included in the resource section below which supports students to identify what they learned, what they have questions about, and vocabulary words that they may not already be familiar with. 
  • For example, “How does an air parcel cool?”    
  • Share the question with the class.  Tell students that they will read and reread the text looking for evidence to support the claim. 
  • Investigate answers to the guiding question using a graphic organizer such as the one included in the resource section below.  

5. To help students gather more evidence to answer the investigation question, have them reread the article one paragraph at a time either independently or in pairs.

  • Consider having students tell you what should be highlighted from each paragraph that satisfies the criterion and share the evidence they found  on a collaborative board from each student.


EL Modification

Using a guiding question when reading a text is an essential way to provide EL students a focus for reading.  This method is important because it helps students to sift through what they read and concentrate their annotation of evidence.    This strategy  also provides multiple attempts and furthers students’ understanding of the scientific concept and strengthens their understanding of the academic vocabulary being used.  This process helps the EL student to find evidence in an article to support a claim.

Implementation steps:

  1. Make available sentence starters to help the student focus their notes on answering the investigating question by providing details about it.

  2. Read over student responses in the First And Second Read Graphic Organizer, after the first day.  If it appears that they are struggling with concepts, provide them with the additional resources such as a science process concept map.

  3. Provide academic vocabulary words on a word wall in the native language and English as well, with visuals so that the students can refer to them as they need to.  

  4. Provide an e-reader or recorded reading of the article from or so that the article can be replayed or paused based on the readers needs.

Special Education Modification

This protocol makes use of Investigating questions to  help students with disabilities comb the article for specific evidence.  It helps students with executive function by focusing their attention on the nuts and bolts of the concept using a graphic organizer to help guide and support their learning. This strategy is structured so that it gives the student multiple opportunities to identify evidence as a class and independently.  After the students complete this evidence acquisition, they can use the sentence starters to help them express what they synthesized from the targeted paragraph(s). 

Implementation steps:

1. Before the first reading of the article, consider giving the special education student arrows to put on the article to place on the what, when, where and why answers to the investigation questions.

  •  For the first read or the article, students need to find at least two of the answers to the investigation question. (Tape these to the students article so that they don’t have to find these again when the next read of the article is done.)
  • After the second read, students need to find out the remaining three answers to the investigation question. (These also need to be taped to the article.)

2. Use or modify structured handouts to help students with task initiation. 

3. Teachers may think about using sentence starters that are structured to help students provide details about the investigating question (what, where, why, when, how).

4. Once all of the answers have been found students can start writing their answers on their First And Second Read Graphic Organizer.

5. Consider providing an electronic reader for the article or a recording of the article on Screencastify can be provided to help the student hear segments  of the article.  

  • his can include using,, or the e-reader with

Finding Evidence in a Scientific Article for Distance Learning

By creating an easily accessible, highlighted copy of the article on the learning management system, the teacher can support each student to be successful and support a steady work pace for the class.  Developing a classroom highlighted copy of the article helps students take responsibility for a shared group goal of annotating the article.  This process can help ensure that team members take ownership of the group's work.  Putting the graphic organizer on the same LMS, in the same assignment location will make it easy for students to keep their article and work in the same location.  This method helps the teacher to share the evidence of each student with the class on a collaborative site to enhance comparisons, and compilations.

Implementation steps:

  1. Copy and paste the text of the article on google slides. 

  2.  Teachers can take screenshots of the captions of the article and insert them in their article location on the slides.  

  3.  To facilitate sharing the text, put it on the LMS on view only. 

  4.  Slides of the article can be shared through the teacher computer for students to read via Google meet, Zoom, or Canvas. 

  5. Consider focusing students on looking for evidence by inviting their input on what should be Highlighted from the text to answer the investigating question.  

  6. Load this on google classroom.  Make a set for each class.

  7. Copy and paste the part of the article the students are supposed to take notes on to google slides . 

  8.  Upload them to the LMS so that each student will have a copy and that there is a master copy for the class with the highlights decided on by the class.

  9. Consider placing a transparent sticky note out to the side of the slides they are supposed to annotate with a text box on top of this so that students can record their notes on this part of the article.

  10. Share student annotations on sticky notes that can be displayed on Padlet or Jamboard.

Related Lessons

  • This strategy can be used with my “What are Clouds” lesson  because it helps students gather evidence about how clouds are made of liquid droplets instead of water vapor.
  • This strategy can be used with my “Disaster in California” Lesson because it helps students to gather evidence about what causes some storms to be more severe than others.