Highlighting Claims and Evidence


Purpose: To practice the GED skill of distinguishing claims, or big ideas, in a text, from evidence, or details

Prep time: 5-10 minutes, or the time to read the text that learners will work with

Materials: An article or section of an article, and highlighters of two different colors

Prep: Pre-read the text that learners are working with to ensure that it contains big/main ideas and at least two pieces of evidence or supporting details


1. Read the article or section of an article as a class, providing repetition through choral reading, stopping at the end of paragraphs to ask general comprehension questions, and having learners do paired readings.

2. In pairs, then as a whole class, have learners orally respond to the question, What struck you about this reading? Note: The purpose of this question is to warm up and get learners thinking about big ideas in the text; however, what struck them may also be a detail – that is also okay. There are no “wrong answers” to this warm-up activity.

3. Briefly explain that one important thing when writing evidence-based responses is to make sure you can find the author’s big, or main idea(s) and supporting details.

4. Demonstrate distinguishing big/main ideas from details. Write or project the following example paragraph or another example on the board.

One reason people lie is to achieve personal power. Achieving personal power is helpful for someone who pretends to be more confident than he really is. For example, one of my friends threw a party at his house last month. He asked me to come to his party and bring a date. However, I didn’t have a girlfriend. One of my other friends, who had a date to go to the party with, asked me about my date. I didn’t want to be embarrassed, so I claimed that I had a lot of work to do. I said I could easily find a date even better than his if I wanted to. I also told him that his date was ugly. I achieved power to help me feel confident; however, I embarrassed my friend and his date. Although this lie helped me at the time, since then it has made me look down on myself.

     As a class, identify the claim in the paragraph (in sentences one and/or two). Highlight that sentence in one color, e.g., yellow. Ask what information in the rest of that paragraph supports the claim. Highlight that information in another        color, e.g., green.

5. In pairs or individually, have learners return to the class reading, and highlight big or main ideas in one color, and supporting ideas or details in another color. Some sentences (e.g., background information) may not be highlighted at all.

6. Circulate and provide direction as needed. 

7. Check answers as a whole class.

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