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A Lesson on Integrating Text Evidence that my Secondary Students Loved

Want some ideas on how to teaching students how to integrate quotes and textual evidence in to writing?  I’ve got you.

A couple weeks ago, a colleague and I were planning a lesson to teach how to properly cite and analyze textual evidence (or integrate a quote into your paper), as students were struggling to incorporate them fluidly within their paragraphs.  Desperately, we searched google, Youtube, and educational sites alike for some sort of video that was even half-entertaining with tips or demonstrations on how to do it, but to no avail.


If you’re looking for a full argumentative writing unit plan, I’ve got you covered–>Argumentative writing unit with 25 CCSS-aligned lessons walking students through writing passionate argumentative letters about an issue they care most about, one letter of which they will mail at the end of the unit._____________

But then, the clouds parted, and we came across this clip from the Colbert Report.  Compared to what we had been finding previously, it was perfect.  Colbert satirically presents a message from Wheat Thins, expertly quoting from and commenting on a memo they had sent him as a guideline.

They even zoom in on the quotes during the clip, making talking about his usage of quotes that much easier during class.  It went over great!  And no fear, it is a miraculously politically neutral clip for Colbert, so no discomfort about ideological undertones necessary.

Colbert clearly made this video for teachers to use in lesson plans about textual evidence. Clearly.

As we had had such trouble developing an engaging lesson plan for this,  I decided to go ahead and post it for others for ideas, as teaching how to integrate quotes will not be going away anytime soon for any middle or high school teacher.  Enjoy, and feel free to comment or expand!

Incorporating Textual Evidence Lesson Plan:

  1. 3 min: Show an excerpt of Colbert video (minute markers 1:50–2:27*), ask students to notice how he leads into a quote, how much of the quote he uses, and then how he continues after the quote.
    1. After clip: discuss what they find
  2. 10 min: Short Powerpoint Presentation
    1. when to quote
    2. common errors in quotingMy go-to lesson for teaching integrating textual evidence. Hint: it involves Colbert and Wheat Thins
    3. ”quote sandwich”–show a second excerpt from Colbert video (minute markers 2:27–4:00), have them talk about what parts were “part of the sandwich”
    4. show examples of good intro and supporting sentences (and explain why they are absolutely necessary–stress that if they take anything away, this should be it)—possibly excerpts from newspapers, etc.
  3. 10 min: Writing activity. Have each student pick a quote out of a bag OR a quote of evidence they already included in their writing. Tape/glue it onto a lined sheet of paper.  Each student must write an intro and supporting sentence for their quote using the “quote sandwich” idea.  Walk around room to answer questions and give suggestions on how students can push their writing even further.
  4. 5 min: Have students get into groups and share with each other
  5. 5 min: (If time) Each group can share one member’s sentence sandwich to class.

And that’s it! Good luck! Let me know how it goes in the comments below–or any ideas you have for teaching about quotes and evidence. I’d LOVE to hear.

You might also be interested in:

Argumentative writing unit with 25 CCSS-aligned lessons walking students through writing passionate argumentative letters about an issue they care most about, one letter of which they will mail at the end of the unit.

A variation of this lesson is actually part of a full unit plan you can find here. One of my all-time favorite units I’ve ever taught, this argumentative unit starts with students identifying an issue they care most about, and then identifying who they can write to to change it. The rest of the 25, CCSS-aligned lessons take them through writing letters that they’ll mail at the end of the unit. Teach students how to argue well while learning to use their voice to make real change. Check it out here!

One Week Slam Poetry Mini-Unit--designed to be stand-alone OR inserted into your current poetry unit. Perfect to add interest, energy, and meaning into your students' poetry experience.Like the idea of using slam poetry in the classroom, but not ready for 3 weeks of it?  This Slam Poetry Mini-Unit takes students through brainstorming, drafting, planning, and performing a meaningful slam poem, all in ONE week.  It’s the perfect chunk of lessons to add slam poetry into a poetry unit, or to fill a week with engaging, meaningful content for students.

50 ideas for publishing student writing at the end of a unit.

Looking for more ways to celebrate and publish student work at the end of your units? Check out my post with a list of OVER 50 ideas you could do with your students to publish their writing. Why not hand over the list to them and let them pick?

Also these FREE resources:

Want to get your feet wet?  Try this Slam Poetry Day One: Speak Your Truth for free. It’s the perfect lesson to kick off your poetry or slam poetry unit with a meaningful bang.

20 Ways to Help Reluctant Writers in your Classroom–a list of ways you can make your classroom more friendly to students reluctant to write, as well as trouble-shooting ideas for students who refuse to write.

Teaching Writing Pinterest Board–My spot to collect all the most useful resources I can find for teaching writing–if you like this post, you’re sure to like this collection.

My Teachers Pay Teachers Store–If you liked this, you’re sure to like resources in my store. I’ve taught writing for grades 6, 7, 8, 10, and 12, so teaching writing is my store’s specialty!

*As always, please make sure you preview videos to evaluate the appropriateness for your students. Though I give recommendations on specific excerpts from the video (that I believe to be acceptable for my own students), I am not responsible for the content of any material that you choose to show to your students.


  1. For the last writing activity with the sheet of quotes: do you add context to the quotes, or are they JUST the quotes?

    So that in the end when the students share, the sentences might not be completely accurate with the context of where the quote came from, correct?

    So some could be funny, depending on what the student comes up with.
    Does that make sense?
    Thanks so much, by the way. This sounds like a really fun lesson, I’m breaking it up into two mini lessons and am excited to try it out.

    • Hi Amelia!

      That does sound fun! It depends on the level of my students. Yes, quotes without context could get really fun! And it would work for the skills of this lesson. If my students were pretty low in this skill, I would give students a claim, though, so they have direction in their choice of quote, and we can compare quote choices afterward. It could be a fun claim! Like “Cats are better than dogs,” or “Fidget spinners are the key to happiness,” and then give them quotes from a few articles. The only context I might provide is info on who the author is, so they can assess if it would add credibility to their argument.

      Hope that gives you some more ideas–thanks for reaching out! Good luck!! I’d love to hear how it goes 🙂

  2. Not sure the “f” bomb should be used in the classroom. Actually I am positive that it should not, so beware if you have not previewed the clip, Stephen Colbert says “F U” a few times in the clip.

    • Hey Connie,
      Thanks for the pointer. You may not have noticed the time markers in the lesson plan to show it starting from 1:50 and end at 4:00, so you’re making me realize that I should make them a little clearer for everyone. I appreciate it! I just bolded the minute markers to make them clearer.
      Hope you’re able to get some use out of the lesson plan!

  3. This is AWESOME! I can’t wait to do this lesson and more importantly, not get any more papers back with “A quote by Ponyboy is…”

  4. This idea is awesome, and I love the writing activity at the end. However, I’m struggling to come up with a list of quotable material to have students select. I thought this could be a way to incorporate some humor and creativity, if they receive funny quotes and have to make up the context, but I’m unsure of how to go about gathering quotes. How did you select them for your lesson?

    • Hi Bridget, I’ve actually since amended this lesson to be embedded within a writing unit, so I usually just have them work through the quotes they’ve already incorporated into their writing.
      If your students don’t have some of their own writing and evidence to work with, you might try taking a few popular science articles and extract the facts, OR just write some facts yourself. I think we did a little of both when we originally taught this lesson.
      I hope that helps! Good luck!

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