Hold a Text Evidence Debate


Editor’s note: Do your students struggle with selected-response questions? Try out this fantastic idea from Scope teacher advisor Mary Blow, who teaches sixth grade in Lowville, New York.


When my students were struggling with multiple-choice questions on quizzes, I decided to try something new: hold a text evidence debate.


What You’ll Need:

  • Any Scope article that comes with a quiz, like this one
  • A quiz (available in two levels), like this one

Key skills:

finding text evidence, key ideas and details, evaluating an argument and claims


20 minutes


1. Complete the selected-response questions by using text evidence.

After reading a Scope article as a class, I assign the selected-response questions on the quiz as homework. Students must complete the questions by providing text evidence to support their answers. (They write the evidence on the back or off to the side of the paper.) Thinking through their choices in this way instantly improves the quality of their work.



2. Debate the answers.

I take things a step further by holding quiz “debates.” The following day students come to class with the completed selected-response questions on their quizzes. I then divide them into groups of three or four and have them complete the same questions together and discuss their answers. If they disagree on an answer, they must debate the question by providing verbal reasoning until they convince the other members of the group. The entire group must agree on the answers before turning in their quiz for grading.


3. Use a lifeline.

There are always a couple questions that provoke heated debate. To resolve this, we use “lifelines.” Before each group hands in their quiz, we meet as a whole class. This is an opportunity for groups to ask other groups for help on these tough questions, which are agreed upon beforehand. The team leader poses these questions to the class and calls on students for help. Then we break back into groups. The groups must now decide if they want to take their peers’ advice or not. Finally, each group hands in their completed questions.  


4. Complete the constructed-response questions.

We save the constructed-response questions for homework.



My students really love this activity. The class discussion helps students have a better understanding of the article and to answer these quiz questions much more thoroughly. Grades are soaring!







Mary Blow teaches sixth grade English at Lowville Academy Middle School in Lowville, New York. Follow Mary's fantastic blog!



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