We are Finding Proof and Becoming Detail Detectives!

5 tips
Friends, it’s hard to get kids to go the extra mile and cite evidence. They will tell you their opinion, but they wont tell you why they think it. Here is how it goes down in my room.
Me: Who is the smarter of the 3 pigs?
First grader: The third one?
Me: …….because ?????……
First grader: [shrugs shoulders]
Me: [takes a Valium]
Kids will tell you the answer, but they freak out if you ask them to make it a complete sentence or provide evidence. I have to say, “I get it” though.  Explaining the “why”  is harder. It takes training and it takes digging deeper. Close reading helps train the kids on how to dig deep enough to answer those hard questions. Click picture to go to Pinterest.

Enter fun and fabulous techniques to find proof in reading and responding!
5 tips
Use Props and Charts: If you are close reading or Finding Proof use magnifying glasses as a fun gimmick. Bring in a detective hat or jacket, just be as creative as you can and anchor down their thinking with charts. Pinterest has the most amazing displays of teacher creativity ever! Click {here} to see anchor charts galore!
  • If you are going to give the kids magnifying glasses to use as a tool remember to give them time to explore with them first.
  • Each child got 4 minutes to just use them in any way that was “safe”
  • Then I asked them, “What do they do?”
IMG_8074 IMG_8072 IMG_8073 IMG_8069
The kids all said the same kinds of things:
  • They help me see better.
  • They make little things easier to see.
  • I can see the details in the pictures better.
(BINGO) I was waiting for a kid to say details! Then we all came down to the carpet and  talked about how we are going to be looking for details, evidence, and proof for our ideas! We will be Detail Detectives!!! They squealed, and I knew I had them. Who doesn’t want to be a detective? Detectives use magnifying glasses, so when we are close reading I will hand out the toys magnifiers. (It takes 30 seconds to hand them out, but they are so much more intent in their learning, so its worth it.) Plus it gives us a good physical reminder of the kind of reading we are doing. There is a BIG difference between the reads in a close read.
  • Read 1- no magnifying glass because we are reading to understand the big picture and discuss or retell what we read
  • Read 2- listening to the teacher read it and discussing it as a group or in pairs.(still no magnifier)
  • Read 3- Reading closely to answer questions & cite evidence (now we pick up our magnifiers) We can also begin to build our opinions of the author’s purpose, his message, or the theme we are seeing. But in building opinions we must cite our evidence!
Color code your thinking:
  • Color coding helps kids to actually find the answer on their paper rather than just write/ copy words from a shoulder partner.
  • Color coding helps prove to the kids that the answer really can be found right there on the paper (sometimes).
  • Color coding helps kids/ forces them to find the evidence for their thinking, opinions, and ideas. If you can’t find evidence, you might be off base with your answer.
Display their close reading: If you want to encourage the kids to really dig deep and find proof display their best detective work. The student work you see is from Lisa Mattes’ Finding Proof pack.
If you love the lettering you see, you can download it by clicking the graphic below!

When you cut out your letters, don’t try to cut on the font lines. Rather cut along the edges. I gave you some dotted lines to show you.

Finding PRROOOFFF This font by Jen Jones is perfect for going around the edges of the letter  (about 1/4 an inch out) really quickly! I LOVE being able to quick cut letters. Who wants to stay in the lines anyway!
Transfer of skills:
  • Have kids find proof in math by proving and answer is wrong or right using manipulatives as evidence.
  • Have them prove something in science. For example, today we are going to look for 3 ways to prove gravity is real, water can change form, or that you can make people smile just by smiling at them first.
  • They will become experts at looking for proof of their thinking.
Run with the theme:
Detective work is fun, so why not expand the theme, and have some fun with class behavior? While the kids are looking for evidence to prove their thinking, I am looking for evidence of great behavior! You know I am a BIG believer in shouting out great behavior! Now, I will use my magnifying glass to spy out great behavior.
Slide1 I wrote out all my kids’ names on post it notes. I placed one of the post its under the top secret flap and stashed the other post its under the poster so they are accessible when I need them.
Eye Spy Picture Mixer
I explained what behaviors I am looking for: In my case I want clips on “Ready to Learn or I’m a Leader”, a clean desk top including book box, and an organized desk interior. You can decide what you want for your class. I caution you to pick things you can easy see in those last moments of the day. It’s too hard to think back though the events of the day (Like raising your hand or lining up quietly.) It is easier to pick things you can see in 5 seconds(Think evidence!).
Slide2 At the end of the day, I flip up the top secret folder, and if you are my student of the day and you show evidence of great behavior by meeting the 3 criteria, you are rewarded with a treat (skittle)  and a shout out!
IMG_8069  Slide7
As always, if my class has more happy moments than sad moments in a day, they get another point toward a reward. Our last reward was 15 minutes of extra recess. You would have thought the won a million dollars. These cute little detectives are helping us keep track of how close we are to our next reward.
To shout out amazing tables I added a cute tag to container of eye balls.
You all have seen me do this before for Halloween and Christmas. Both are freebies if you want to “wish-list” them for next year.

Having the right materials matters more than anything else. I would like to recommend this pack by Lisa Mattes from Growing Firsties!
I would like to boss you around and tell you that you HAVE to buy it, but you don’t have to do anything. But if you are a first or second grade teacher you should buy this pack because you need it like oxygen!!! Here is why:
  • It’s Perfect
  • It’s Smartly written
  • It’s Engaging
  • It has a Kid-friendly format and ease of reading
  • It is Common Core all the way and covers all three topics below!!!!
If you want to win this amazing pack from Lisa, please comment and leave your email. I love Murder Mystery detective shows. I like Monk the best because it’s tame enough not to give me nightmares! In your comments tell me what show you are loving these days!  Good luck my loves! Three of you will win!!!!! Speaking of winners!!!!
photo (3)-002
Jennifer Ramos you won the Jo Totes purse!!!!! But don’t be too sad if you did not win. Jo Totes is having a huge 35% off sale. That kind of discount makes us all winners!!!I am getting this beauty below!!!! You can NEVER have to many camera bags!
Remember you can enter to win a pair of Tieks {here} good luck!!!
Katie Knight


  1. I always love reading your posts. You are engaging and have such cute, smart ideas. And of course, Lisa's pack is TO DIE FOR. Thanks for sharing and for the freebie. Super cute!!

    First Grade Smiles

  2. I have been enjoying learning more about Close Reading. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and products. Lisa's pack looks wonderful! I am off to laminate my cute little detectives. Thank-you! Cari
    P.S. My current fav show is "The Voice"--I love all that talent!

    1. I hope you find evidence of great behavior !

  3. Katie. Katie. Katie. You are amazing!!!! Absolutely adore you!!! And this post is such a wonderful tutorial! Muah. Muah. Muah.

  4. Yes, close reading hasn't quite made it to our neck of the woods, but I am trying it out in my class, just because. ;) I have Reading Detectives for the 5 W's (and How) chart, so this just makes sense for our class. Hubby watches (and me by default) Murder She Wrote every night! (gasp) but my favourite is The Amazing Race. Love seeing those worldly places! mrsrastin@rogers.com

  5. This is such a great post- thank you!:) I'm really enjoying learning so much about close reading. I love the behavior idea!!! Thanks for all your hard work and explaining things so well! I love Scandal and Parenthood. I'm so sad they are done for the summer already!! I need to find a new show to watch! :)

    Katie :)
    Smiles from Second Grade

    1. I hate it when my favorite shows break for summer!

  6. This pack is already on my wish list, this post has now made me want it even more. Love your way of introducing the concept with the magnifying glasses - thank you for sharing!!
    I'm a big fan of all mystery/police style shows and at the moment Blacklist is on the top :)

  7. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I have been doing close reading a lot with my class over the last month, and they are really enjoying it. I love your idea of detective hat and jacket. Thanks for sharing!
    Fantastic First Grade Froggies

  8. Katie, your post is amazing as usual- just like you.
    ✿Tiffani Time 4 Kindergarten

    1. A thank you. YOU are amazing yourself!

  9. Love all of these ideas! They are like a breath of fresh air! :-) Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. My "go-to" shows right now...Hawaii 5-0, Blue Bloods and a little bit of Grimm mixed in!


  10. LOVE! Your pictures are great! I am an avid detective show watcher…I love Elementary and BBC's Sherlock. I miss Monk =)
    First Grade Blue SKies

  11. What a FANTASTIC post on close reading! I love this and will share this with my team. My favorite show now? Dr. Who! Love it so much I am going to make a TARDIS for my classroom door--where learning is BIGGER on the inside! ;)


  12. These packs look amazing and I've already printed the words for the bulletin board! Thank you so much for the suggestions and helpful hints you give us all! ginaruth@yahoo.com

  13. Great ideas and processes here! And I love that you connected proof in academics to proof of good behavior!

    I'm loving NCIS and NCIS LA these days.


  14. This is perfect for the class. Love all the ideas! I love the show Elementary. lbctiggerlilly41@gmail.com

  15. I may have to "borrow" some of your great behaviour management ideas. We've been all kinds of crazy and there's still 9 weeks left! I've was loving Scandal but sadly thats over for now:(

  16. WOW! What great ideas. I have recently started teaching close reading! I would love to have this new reading pack. Sounds very FUN! I am currently watching GRIMM with my teenage son who is a SENIOR. I'll watch what ever he will watch. Gotta catch the momments with teenage boys! THANKS for the great post! Tammie (tammiestjohn@bellsouth.net)

    1. My husband and I like watching Grimm, too! I'm addicted to Once Upon a Time too, but he doesn't watch that one with me. Apparently it's too girly or something. Haha!

  17. I love the behavior management freebie, but I can't seem to download it. I'll try again later. I'm loving Once Upon A Time these days. Hope you have a great night. Thanks for the great post!

    A Teaspoon of Teaching

    1. I found in your store and got it. I also downloaded the holiday ones. LOVE these! Thanks so much!

  18. I hate when kids shrug their shoulders for answers! lol I'm like, "Well, why did you raise your hand?" My favorite detective show is Psych. It's hilarious!!! gurlonfire2004 @ hotmail.com

  19. Haha at the Valium comment! Truth!
    I am addicted to the Discovery ID Channel but NCIS, Criminal Minds, and CSI are still my faves.

  20. This post was a wonderful read! I would love to win the bag and the pack! So fun!

  21. This post was a wonderful read! I would love to win the bag and the pack! So fun! caburlison@wsd.net

  22. You are seriously the best teacher. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in your room, Katie!

  23. I went to download the freebie but I am unable to. Any thoughts?

  24. I am loving The Blacklist -- look forward to it every Monday night (and totally worth being a little tired on Tuesday from staying up late watching it). So many great ideas in your post to get the students involved and keep them engaged. I especially love the eye spy classroom management idea. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. oops -- forgot my email. wrlean@aol.com.

      Thanks again!

  25. I would love to in a pair of shoes! I would wear them everywhere! I would probably even plan a special date night just to show them off! :)

    1. To WIN a pair... so excited that I can't type!

  26. Katie this is a really wonderful post, full of great information. I laughed so much over the magnifying glasses because I gave them to my teachers and made necklaces out of them. It had a tag that said "Let's Look Closely at Reading." The teachers loved them and hung them up in their rooms! One thing we created was a bookmark so all kids would annotate the text in the same way and on the back we had all the text structures so they could use it to identify the one at hand. I love this article and the product looks fantastic! ReadWorks is another great resource for this kind of work. Check it out!

  27. I love to watch Scandal! Love your post! Thanks for the giveaway :)

  28. Thanks for sharing all your great ideas for Close Reading!! I am watching Nashville and Parenthood. tgartland@deforestschools.org

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  34. I'm a 4th grade teacher but can totally use your magnifying idea for close reading. Excited to start following you for more ideas. LOVE your blog, it made me smile & laugh out loud!! Thank you!!

  35. You sold me! Added to cart!!! Thanks for sharing! <3 reading your posts!

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  37. Any chance you share the name of the specific font you used from Jen Jones? I'm having trouble finding it in my collection. Thanks!

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