Claim Support Question: Pictures of Practice
What does the routine look like in action?

Introducing the routine as a "game of truth"

Students in Rich Murray’s 5th grade were asked think about three things about themselves that are true, and then to make up one lie. Students were reminded that this was a “game of truth” and to therefore think of things that might not be obvious to their friends in the class. After a few moments to think students wrote down their answers.

Student claims ranged from personal attributes: I like football; My second favorite sport is soccer; I like Social Studies; I was born in Florida; My favorite Basketball player is…; and My favorite animal is a horse; to more anecdotal claims: I had a funeral for my pet caterpillar; I ate fried snails; I broke a kids legs playing football; or Once I went to a football game in CT.

On the board were two columns for SUPPORT and QUESTIONS.  To begin the routine, two student’s responses were used as examples and recorded on the board. Often the teacher needed to probe asking “What are some questions you might want to ask about this statement?” or “Can you think of reasons why this may not be true?”  Once a student came up with an alternative perspective, other students were able to follow. The questions sometimes challenged the plausibility of the claim, and often lead to a deeper understanding of the process. By the second or third statement students usually came up with creative suggestions for support and questioning.

Students often held strong beliefs about their friend’s claims. Many indicated that they could immediately tell whether a friend’s statement was true or false and called out “True!” or “Definitely a lie!” when a student read a statement. For example, one boy stated “His favorite sport is Football”. Many of his friends immediately replied that this was an accurate truth, support being that he played football everyday at recess, he’s really good at it and he talks about it a lot. Counter-evidence did come up, however. Other students offered questions about this statement: maybe he just has to play football because there is nothing else to do at recess, maybe he wants to fit in with his friends, and maybe somebody can be good at something but not enjoy doing it. While it seemed that the students could accept and understand these questions and suggestions about their friend’s statement, in the end few students were swayed to believe differently from their initial presumption. It turned out to be a true statement.

Another girl claimed she broke her wrist skiing. Support for this statement included evidence and accounts of other peoples’ injuries on the slopes and thus the possibility that something might have happened to this student as well. After some discussion and general consensus about the dangerous aspects of skiing, another student asked the fundamental question – Has she ever skied? This led to more questioning about the actual evidence- Had anyone ever seen her ski? Had anyone ever seen her with a cast on her wrist? Had she ever talked about it before?  What other people might know about this? This was a lively discussion and, in general, students supported both sides of her statements with good questions and evidence.  The girl had indeed lied about the skiing accident but many students thought she had lied about another claim, her pet caterpillar’s funeral. This was interesting because it was the statement with the least support or questioning.

With most examples, students ended up with both support and questions for each statement and it was fun to see how many students thought each one was true or not as they were read off again. The class was enthusiastic about continuing and since the students had written down their answers, the teacher agreed to continue the game later in the day. They were encouraged to make their own columns for support/questions and play the game with a partner. Later, with the routine structure internalized, the students used Claim Support Question to investigate claims from their school subject matter.