You can read a general description of how to use the Weigh the Evidence tool for Interpretation, Critique, and Counterargument. This page provides more detailed information about how to use Weigh the Evidence to support English learners.
Weigh the Evidence discussions focus on what students found compelling in the evidence, what possible claims could be made in response to the central question given the sources, what sources and examples or excerpts from the sources support those claims, how evidence supports the claim, and why selected evidence is reliable. The discussion helps students think across sources to identify evidence that supports possible claims, and then decide what arguments make sense given the sources. As a result, students are supported in making the transition from reading to writing.
The Weigh the Evidence tool offers a way to publicly record ideas from the discussion. You can project this chart and write on it to display students' thinking for the whole class, create a version of this chart on a white board, use poster paper to capture students' thinking, or ask a student to record the ideas during discussion and project it after. All options offer a support students can refer to when they begin to develop their own written arguments. The tool is not meant to be a worksheet that all students fill out, but a way to create a public record of the discussion.
After reading and discussing the evidence that the sources offer in relation to the central/compelling question for the investigation, ask students what claim(s) do the sources support? If needed, model the ways a claim can be formulated.
Write any possible claims in column one of the WtE Chart, and then ask students to work together in pairs to identify evidence in the source(s) they have read that would support that claim. Write the name of the source in column 2 and an abbreviated quotation in column 3. This models for students how to identify evidence and how to abbreviate a quotation. We recommend you write the author or title of the source in column 2, and not just 'source 2', so students begin to develop greater familiarity with the sources and work in disciplinary ways.
Completing column 4 with reasoning is the greatest challenge, and it will take time and practice for students to learn this disciplinary skill. Ask questions like Why does this evidence/quotation support this claim? Have students consider each others' contributions through pair discussion before entering the reasoning on the chart.
To support English learners in using the Weigh the Evidence tool, you may want to use it after reading each source, accumulating information on it as you move through the sources, considering the different claims that evidence from the source supports. You can project the chart on a whiteboard to fill out as students make relevant points in discussion.
Post the completed Weigh the Evidence chart in a place accessible to students as they begin to develop their own written arguments, and encourage them to use the thinking that is recorded on the chart to develop their argument outline with the Planning Graphic Organizer.