Teach the evidence waltz for nonfiction writing.

Couple dancing and question

The evidence waltz is a very simple, three-step way to teach students to present evidence in nonfiction texts.

1. Prepare readers for the evidence

The first step is to prepare readers to understand the evidence in the context of the writer’s thesis.

If the student is writing about why pregnant elephants shouldn’t wear tennis shoes, she might prepare readers for her first piece of evidence by saying:

“The hazards of allowing pregnant elephants to wear tennis shoes were first documented in 1957 by African observer John Clayton in a guest article in the Journal of Pachyderm Podiatry. “

2. Present the evidence

The second step is for writers to present their evidence, citing their source.

Our student writer might have this to say:

Clayton wrote, “The practice of allowing pregnant elephants to wear tennis shoes, no matter how well-intended, is simply wrong. Such footwear is no better than going barefoot.”

3. Explain its significance

The third step is for writers to explain the significance of the evidence in terms of the thesis they are trying to prove.

Here’s our student writer doing that:

Although Clayton is not certified in pachyderm podiatry, his credentials as an observer of elephants cannot be disputed by anyone who has read any of Edgar Rice Burroughs novels in which Clayton appears under his pseudonym “Tarzan.”

For more about teaching the evidence waltz, visit this YCTWriting page.

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