Stage Picture: Claim + Evidence

A big push at our school in academic language (both speaking and writing) is the notion of Claim, Evidence and Analysis. Working with ELs, at any level, it is, in my opinion, important to give them experiences with this way of thinking and speaking even as beginning English students. Even at the early levels of language production, keeping academic structures present, is an important feature of good ELD instruction in the U.S., where learning English is not just a function of learning a language, but provides students with equal access to educational and professional opportunities later in life. It is an equity issue for sure, especially for my SIFE’s, students with interrupted formal education. I adapted the Stage picture activity to include this language of Claim and evidence. The idea actually came from one of my students who told me that in one of her other classes the teacher was using Claim and Evidence for a piece of writing and she wasn’t sure what that meant. I thought our stage picture activity could help with that. I had never tried it before so the videos also show me making it up as I go along. By the 4th video I am a bit clearer on how to ask questions that elicit students making claims and providing supporting evidence.

Look at the videos and you can hear me question students in this way: “What is your claim?” “What is your evidence that supports this?” In the past I would simply say—what do you notice? (I still resorted to this line of questions in the first few videos I notice…) What’s the story here? This is valid, of course, but I do want to demonstrate a way to adapt a simple structure, stage picture, to meet whatever needs that you determine are best for your student’s advancement. Indeed, it is my belief, that a simple activity like stage pictures can be adapted for many language needs, and can grow as your students grow. Indeed, the approach I like the best, when I’m not filming for documentation purposes, is to ask students questions that challenge them at the level they are at. It is a way of differentiating instruction within the same activity. In the second video, you can see Irene sharing that her evidence that they were in the park was that two of the students in the “picture” were playing volleyball. I asked her to continue with her evidence—what were they doing that showed they were playing volleyball. She showed me her hands interacting in a volleyball pose, but didn’t yet have the language to describe it. I later asked the class how we could describe this move. It is these moments that continue to remind me of how powerful and useful these types of activities can be for assessing, and stretching students use of language.