Textual Evidence & Interpreting an Informational Text Video

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  • 0:01 Informational Texts
  • 1:24 Tips for Reading…
  • 3:56 Textual Evidence
  • 6:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Troolin

Amy has MA degrees in History, English, and Theology. She has taught college English and religious education classes and currently works as a freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will explore informational texts. Along the way, we will discover a few tips to make reading this type of text easier, and we will pay special attention to textual evidence.

Informational Texts

We read for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes, our reading merely entertains us. Sometimes, it tries to persuade us. Sometimes, it informs us. Sometimes, it does all of these at the same time. In this lesson, we're going to focus on reading that informs us. We'll explore informational texts, discover some tips to make reading these types of text easier, and pay special attention to the textual evidence that comprises a large portion of an informational text.

An informational text is simply a piece of writing with the primary purpose of conveying knowledge about a topic. These texts often feature well-defined sections with bold headings, highlighted vocabulary and definitions, and visual elements like pictures, graphs, and maps. Informational texts can be history books, biographies, science texts, how-to books, volumes about art or music, business textbooks, or any other book that is chiefly focused on telling you, the reader, something you didn't know before.

Tips for Reading Informational Texts

Efficiently reading an informational text takes a lot of effort because your goal is to transfer the information in the text to your brain. The following tips will help you meet this objective.

First off, before you even start reading an informational text, you should do three things:

1. Think about what you already know about the subject. This will help you better connect with the text.

2. Determine what you want to learn from the text. What information are you looking for? Jot down a few questions that you have about the subject. This will help you stay focused as you read.

3. Survey the text. Look at the headings; notice the vocabulary words; scan the pictures and graphics. This will help you get an initial idea of the text's content and organization.

When you've finished these pre-reading steps, you'll be ready to tackle the text. When you read an informational text, you must be an active reader who engages the text rather than allowing it to fly by. To be an active reader, you should do the following:

  • Read the text slowly so you don't miss anything. Break the text into small chunks and focus on one at a time.
  • Take notes. If you own the book, you can underline, highlight, circle, make notes in the margins, or use whatever other markings that help you identify and call attention to important ideas. If the book belongs to someone else, have a piece of paper handy as you read and jot down key words and ideas on that.
  • Pause after each chunk to write a one- or two-sentence summary of what you just read. Answer the questions you created in the pre-reading stage, if possible. Note any new questions you might have at this point and indicate your reactions to the text.
  • Reread as necessary. You will usually not be able to draw all of the important information out of a text on the first time around.

Even after you've done all this, you are still not finished. After you read an informational text, you should go back to your list of questions from pre-reading and those you've jotted down during your reading to see if they've been answered. You should also review your notes, record any further thoughts you might have about the text, and give yourself a little quiz to see how well you remember the text's main ideas and most important details.

Textual Evidence

As you read informational texts, you should be aware that they tend to be built from other texts and consolidate information taken from many different sources. This information is called textual evidence, and good readers are able to identify it, analyze it to determine its credibility and effectiveness, and determine how it strengthens or weakens the informational texts of which it has become a part.

First, you should learn how to identify the pieces of textual evidence that are the building blocks for informational texts. This evidence usually takes the forms of facts, statistics, anecdotes, examples or illustrations, expert testimony, and graphical evidence like charts or tables. Writers sometimes quote textual evidence directly, taking a selection word-for-word from their source. Other times, they paraphrase, writing the information in their own words. Sometimes, they also summarize their sources, adapting only the most important points to their needs.

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