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Using evidence-based terms in a secondary social studies classroom

It was a great day today – 70+ K-12 teachers were hanging out at @ESSDACK, learning from each other and from Adam Topliff, Kori Green, and Lori Rice. All three are Kansas Department of Ed certified standards trainers who just happen to be awesome classroom teachers. As part of an agreement between ESSDACK and the Kansas Council for the Social Studies, they ended up in Hutchinson doing a couple of full day social studies workshops.

Adam, Kori, and Lori spent the day leading conversations about the state standards, the state assessment, and what good instructional practice looks like at different grade levels.

The best part was that I got the chance to just hang out and rotate between all of the sessions – picking up all of the goodness.

My walk-away from the day?

We need to have kids read and write more. Of course, that sometimes means more work for us as we train kids to do those sorts of things. One of the best things we can do is to provide lots of structures and scaffolds and organizers and tools that can help them become better writers.

And my new favorite structure slash scaffold slash organizer slash tool is the idea of giving our kids Evidence-Based Terms.

Several weeks ago, I shared a variety of writing prompts that can be great for getting kids to write. Several months ago, I shared some elementary level Evidence-Based Terms. Today you get some secondary resources that I think qualify as Evidence-Based Terms.

The first one is the Historical Thinking Chart created by the Stanford History Education Group. Not only can you find some excellent examples of the kinds of questions our kids should be using when looking at evidence, if you look at the far right column of the chart you can find some excellent Evidence-Based Terms. These are the types of words and phrases that kids should be using when writing responses.

sheg thinking chart

Another great examples of Evidence-Based Terms can be found in the very cool book titled Reading, Thinking, and Writing About History by Chauncey Monte-Sano, Susan De La Paz, and Mark Felton. In the appendix is a great resource they call Helpful Phrases for Writing Historical Arguments. I’m going to call them Evidence-Based Terms. What I like about this chart is it gives kids some more scaffolding such as “if you are trying to do this with your writing, these are the words or phrases that work best.”

Secondary evidence based terms


A final resource that I think can help is at the Thinking About Teaching History site. Author Joe Taraborrelli provides a variety of fill in the blanks that can help kids create and support their arguments and claims. Head over to get the full list – once you’re there, you’ll find things such as:

1. Based on this evidence, it appears that_________________________.
2. This statement reveals (suggests) that _____________________________.
3. We must consider these words in the larger context of ___________________________.
4. When placed into context, this passage takes on a different meaning. Now we see that ______________________________________.
5. When we compare this text to _______________(another text), we see that a tension exists between _________________ and ______________________.

Useful stuff.

Evidence-Based Terms can seem incredibly basic to us but can be incredibly powerful for our kids. Don’t be afraid to add them to your teaching tool kit.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. These are fantastic resources for creating DBQs. I teach middle school world and U.S. history, so I am constantly looking for scaffolded DBQs that allow my students to start developing the analytical skills that they will need for high school and college. The documents that you reference will enable me to more easily create my own DBQs. In my own schooling, I remember that questions about primary sources were very often limited to the “sourcing” category of the Historical Thinking Chart. The other categories of this chart require higher-level thinking and, especially the “Close Reading” questions, could be integrated into and supported by the English curriculum. To scaffold longer DBQ responses for my seventh graders, I have found it useful to give my students a thesis statement and then ask them to defend it. Ultimately, I would love for them to follow the “Helpful Phrases” model. Any ideas for introducing some of the concepts (explaining quotes, judging evidence, including and responding to counterarguments) addressed by these phrases to my seventh graders? In addition, any tech-savvy ways for students to complete DBQs or write extended DBQ essays? So far this year, my students have created Tackks ( about the pros/cons of British imperialism in India, and they responded to classmates Tackks via comments.

    October 1, 2014
    • glennw #


      These evidence-based terms would be useful for creating and writing DBQs. I really like how the Stanford History Education Group encourages multiple concepts besides Sourcing. If you haven’t explored their curriculum or mini-DBQ/assessments, you should check out their stuff at:

      I haven’t heard of Taccks! Will need to go and check that out. Not sure how hard-core tech you’re looking for with your online DBQs. Is there a reason they need to be really techy? Unless you want more multimedia / flashy stuff, I think a student Google Doc shared with you and others would work pretty well. It would allow for comments. There are lots of blog platforms that would also allow students to create posts and leave comments for others. I like WordPress but Edublog / Weebly / Kidblog / even Tumblr can do the trick.


      October 2, 2014
  2. I can not recommend highly enough the Access for All Learners guide offered here:
    It is short, expensive for its length, but as the title says it opens up access for all (well, nearly all) learners.
    Has similar things to what you write above.
    The abstract, since it does not include any appendices does not do it justice.
    Oh, and it is obviously low tech.

    October 2, 2014
    • glennw #

      Sometimes low tech is the best! Looks like another great option with useful resources – will need to check it out.

      Thanks for sharing!


      October 2, 2014

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