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Evidential Reasoning: Visible Thinking Routine

As you know, Socrative is a tool that reports what your students know. However, did you know that Socrative can also provide information on how your students are thinking?

For example, after a science lesson, a teacher may use a Socrative quiz to ask, “Will a penny, with a density of 2g/ml float in water?” Based upon the student responses, the teacher will be able to see who responded correctly.Then, she may ask, “Please explain your answer to question 1”. Here’s where another component of student thinking comes in. Based upon this second round of responses, the teacher will be able to see how her students understand (or misunderstand) the concept of density. Using Socrative will allow her to target any remaining misunderstandings in her ongoing instruction.This type of teaching is based upon research on student thinking at Harvard’s Project Zero. It encourages students to share and explain their perspectives by asking,

  • What’s going on?
  • What do you see?
  • What do you know?
  • What makes you say that?

Because the basic questions in this routine are flexible, it is useful when looking at objects such as works of art or historical artifacts, but it can also be used to explore a poem, make scientific observations and hypothesis, or investigate more conceptual ideas. The routine can be adapted for use with almost any subject and may also be useful for gathering information on students’ general concepts when introducing a new topic. Striking a good balance of Socrative inputted text and classroom discussion will produce the best outcomes and engage students in multiple ways.

Socrative Solution

By blending with Socrative there is an opportunity for all students to have their thoughts and ideas made visible. As always, this could be done anonymously or associative depending on which best aids in participation and student expression. Either way, students will be on their way to achieving the 21st century skill of critical thinking and problem solving.

Short Answer

  • Have students generate a list of observations by each inputting one into Socrative: “What’s going on? What do you see or know?”
  • Project the responses and ask the class “What makes you say that?”
  • Motivate students to think from multiple perspectives and supply evidence for responses other than their own.
  • Make note of key language and high quality responses
  • Make an observation and then have all students use Socrative to provide support evidence.
  • Discuss as a class paying special attention to what makes a good explanation.
  • Repeat.
  • Have students identify an observation and provide evidence in one Socrative entry.
  • Discuss as a class and highlight target language.
  • Use the voting feature and have students select the best entry.

Multiple Choice

Tip: May be best as an introductory activity.

  • Design questions to build basic skills and scaffold evidence-based reasoning.
  • Discuss correct selections as a class and highlight target language and characteristics of a stellar answer.

Short Response

  • Have students make multiple comments and for each one provide support evidence.
  • Discuss as a class and note best practices.

In the beginning you will have to prompt students to explain why and often model the process. However, over time students may begin to automatically support their interpretations with evidence without even being asked, and eventually students will begin to internalize the routine.

  • Create a Rubric Based on student comments and class discussions, collaboratively form the basis of a rubric to measure evidential reasoning.
  • Make a Chart Keep an ongoing list of quality responses and make special note of sentence starters and key language. Hang on the classroom wall or as a Google Doc.
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