TBE stands for “text based evidence”. I continually challenge the children to think below the surface of a text and to support what they say with “proof”. It is important for us to be critical thinkers as we make judgements about anything in life. We take time to do “research”…whether it be at the grocery store when we select a certain product or decide which car we want to buy. Decisions like which political candidate or issue to support are often influenced by the facts we learn. Therefore learning to look for evidence to support what we think, say, and feel is a critical skill.
Going back to the idea of thinking “below the surface”, I work with the children on analyzing and evaluating when they read. In other words… we consider questions and ideas that do not necessarily have a ‘correct’ answer. On the surface questions or thinking means that we can easily figure something out because the “evidence” is right there; often there is one answer or response that fits. This is the type of thinking the children are used to…which means they are used to being “correct” or “right”. We work hard on shifting that thinking.
So when we go “below” the surface, we hunt for clues or evidence to support what we think. This is where TBE comes in. If I claim a character is determined or the theme of a text is bullying, I need to support those ideas with proof from what I read. Thus we spend time learning about how and when to “copy” or cite text. This is where being a “text talker” helps. We can use sentence starters like “according to the text…”, “the text explicitly states…”, or “I can infer from…”
Using TBE or citing evidence from a text differs from PARAPHRASING where a reader tells what is going on in his or her own words. Paraphrasing is important and useful, but learning the difference is important. This is why I stress the use of TBE because I want children to learn HOW and WHY we use the words of a writer to prove what we are trying to say. Later they will learn how to cite text more formally but for now, I’m looking for the use of evidence and explaining how the evidence supports thinking fully! It is a BIG higher level thinking skill. One that takes practice and repetition to build and strengthen.