Finding Evidence in Informational Text

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Team Digital
Finding Evidence in Informational Text
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.1

Finding Textual Evidence – Definition

When reading informational texts for school, we are often asked to answer questions to show understanding of the text. To answer these questions correctly, we need to find textual evidence. We use it to justify our answers and support our ideas or opinions

Textual evidence consists of facts, examples, data, and expert opinions. Those are the things we need to look for in the text while reading. This evidence helps you in analyses if you need to prove an argument about a text.

Sometimes textual evidence is directly stated in the text, and it is easy to find it. Other times, you will use evidence to make an inference about the text. An inference is a logical conclusion based on evidence.

Finding Textual Evidence – Strategy

There are three steps you can follow to find evidence that supports your answer, idea, or an opinion. Have a look at the overview chart below. It features some helpful steps to help you find textual evidence:

Step # What to do
1 Read the questions and highlight keywords that build background knowledge about the topic.
2 Read the text thoroughly and highlight or make notes of key details connected to the questions.
3 Before answering the question, read it again and refer back to the text to find the supporting evidence.

You need to follow these steps both when you are looking for direct evidence and when making inferences.

Finding Textual Evidence – Examples

Let's have a look at the example text about maglev trains and practice answering the following questions using textual evidence:

• How is maglev train different from regular trains?
• What could the future of maglev trains look like?

First, let’s highlight keywords in the questions. In the first question, we can highlight maglev train, different and regular trains. While reading the text, we need to look for related keywords. In the second question, we highlight could and future of maglev trains. The verb could tells us that we have to infer based on the textual evidence. We need to look for details that describe the possible future of maglev trains.

Now, let’s read the text and highlight the key details related to the questions:

Maglev trains, or magnetic levitation trains, are different from other trains in how they move. Unlike regular trains that use wheels on tracks, maglev trains float on a magnetic field of the tracks, without actually touching them. This allows maglev trains to go faster and more smoothly. Despite being faster and safer than other trains, there are not many maglev trains in the world. They are mainly used in big cities with dense populations, as they are considerably more expensive than regular trains. Nevertheless, with the increasing global population and technological progress, the production of these trains is expected to become cheaper, while the demand will only increase.

Now we can go back to the text and refer to evidence before answering the questions. For the first question we highlighted how they move and float on a magnetic field of the tracks. Therefore, the answer to the first question How is maglev train different from regular trains? will be:

Maglev trains are different from regular trains in how they move: they float on a magnetic field of the tracks.

For the next question, we highlighted, production of these trains is expected to become cheaper and demand will only increase. From this evidence, we can infer that there could be more maglev trains in the future because of decreased production costs and high demand. So the answer to the question What could the future of maglev trains look like? is:

In the future there could be more maglev trains due to decreased production costs and high demand.

Finding Textual Evidence – Summary

Let’s review what we have learned about finding textual evidence.

When answering questions about an informational text, we need to find the textual evidence to make sure our answers are correct. We can use textual evidence to justify our answers, ideas, or opinions. There are four types of textual evidence: facts, examples, data, and expert opinions.

To find the textual evidence, follow these steps:

Steps to Find Textual Evidence While Answering Questions Action
1 Read the questions and highlight keywords that build background knowledge about the topic.
2 Read the text thoroughly, highlight and make notes of key details connected to the questions.
3 Before answering the question, read it again and refer back to the text to find the supporting evidence.

Sometimes, the evidence is directly stated in the text. Other times you can use it for making inferences from textual evidence.

Now you know how to find textual evidence and answer questions about an informational text. If you want more practice, check out our video, worksheets and activities!

What is textual evidence?
What are the types of textual evidence?
How to find textual evidence?
What is the difference between paraphrasing and quoting?
How can I effectively analyze textual evidence to strengthen my argument?

Finding Evidence in Informational Text exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learned? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Finding Evidence in Informational Text.
• Identify types of text evidence.

Hints

What is the chart below used to show?

Facts are one type of text evidence that you can use to demonstrate understanding.

Solution

Text evidence can be: facts, examples, data, and expert opinions.

• Recall how to answer a question using text evidence.

Hints

Rereading a question is always a good idea!

Look in the text for answers to the question.

Solution

Make sure to read a question again before answering. Then, look back at the text. This will help you to locate supporting evidence to show you've understood the text.

• Find evidence to support the questions.

Hints

Questions 1 and 2 ask about how frogs and toads move. Some types of movement are running, walking, jumping, or crawling.

Solution

To find textual evidence for Questions 1 and 2, look for details supporting the key word move. Then, highlight the answers found near that word.

To find textual evidence for Questions 2 and 3, look for details supporting the key word live. Then, highlight the answers found near that word.

• Highlight text evidence in a paragraph.

Hints

There are five green highlights to support Question 2.

All highlightable text needs to be used.

To identify text evidence:

*First, read the questions and identify the key topics to look for in the text.
*Look for answers that connect back to the key topics from the questions.

Solution

The text evidence to support the answer to each question is as follows:

1) What is a flock of birds?
This text should be highlighted in yellow:

• groups of individual birds flying together

2) Why do birds flock together?
This text should be highlighted in green:

• guide migration to warmer weather
• protection from predators
• confuse a predator
• enable the flock to attack the predators with stronger force than if the bird was on its own
• tell one another where to find prey

3) What causes birds in a flock to fight?
This text should be highlighted in violet:

• if they are stressed
• overcrowding, lack of food and proper nutrition, as well as boredom

• Explain how to find text evidence.

Hints

Highlighting can identify key details and help build knowledge.

You should always read the question first.

Solution

When looking for text evidence, you should:

3. Highlight key words that build background knowledge around a topic.
4. Highlight the text for key details that connect to the question.
• Match text evidence with a question.

Hints

Tides are when the ocean expands or shrinks from the beach.

Earth is not made of just oceans. Land will impact tides as well.

Solution

The text evidence is matched to the questions as follows:

What causes high tides?
*The moon's gravitational pull causes water to swell on the side of the Earth closest to the moon.

How might the presence of continents affect tides?
*The Earth is not a perfectly smooth ball. Of course, tides are affected by land masses and the depth of the ocean at certain points.

Will the location of the sun have any impact on tides?
*When the Earth, moon, and sun line up twice a month. This causes a spring tide which creates incredibly high tides at some places on earth, and very low tides in other places.

What is the effect of climate change on the tides?
*As the Earth grows warmer, sea levels are rising. This will cause tides to reach further and further inland.