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Quill Reading for Evidence


Provide your students with nonfiction texts paired with AI-powered writing prompts, instead of multiple-choice questions, to enable deeper thinking. Students read a nonfiction text and build their comprehension through writing prompts, supporting a series of claims with evidence sourced from the text. Quill challenges students to write responses that are precise, logical, and based on textual evidence, with Quill coaching the student through custom, targeted feedback on each revision so that students strengthen their reading comprehension and hone their writing skills.

Designed for 8th-12th grade students, each activity takes 15-20 minutes to complete. Quill is developing activities for ELA, social studies, and science classrooms, with a particular focus on texts that examine 21st-century issues.

Culture & Society Topics

photograph of a football

"Should Schools Have Grade Requirements for Student Athletes?"

View a sample activity

Science Topics

photograph of a cow

"How Does Eating Meat Impact Global Warming?"

View a sample activity

Social Studies Topics

photograph of the Statue of Liberty

U.S. History

World History

Under Development, Coming 2023


Read and highlight text

A sample article about volcanoes showing a sentence highlighted with the cursor over the highlighted sentence

Write sentences using what you read

A sample question asking a student to fill in the rest of a sentence

Revise based on feedback

A sample feedback asking a student to add more detail to their sentence

Example Prompt:

“How Does Eating Meat Impact Global Warming?”

1st Attempt

Quill's feedback bot provides custom feedback for every response that mirrors the feedback a teacher would provide to a student in a 1:1 context.

In this response, it's true that seaweed benefits cows by reducing their methane emissions, but the student has not specified *why* seaweed is beneficial. Quill asks the student to go back to the text and examine it more carefully to provide a reason why seaweed benefits cows and the environment. Students must use precise evidence in their response to be able to successfully complete it.

screenshot of example first attempt Reading for Evidence activity prompt dotted line arrow

2nd Attempt

The student identified that methane is harmful to the environment but did not support their response with a key statistic from the text. Quill encourages them to be as specific as possible to stregthen their response and more accurately respond to the claim.

screenshot of example first attempt Reading for Evidence activity prompt dotted line arrow

3rd Attempt

The student strengthened their evidence by adding a precise statistic from the text that explains how significantly seaweed impacts methane. Since the key ideas are in place, Quill now provides a mini-lesson on the grammar errors in their response. Quill only provides grammar and spelling feedback once the student has written a strong response with the key ideas from the text.

screenshot of example first attempt Reading for Evidence activity prompt dotted line arrow

4th Attempt

At this point the student has now written a precise, textually-supported sentence. Students often come into the tool writing vague or inaccurate statements, and through multiple rounds of practice, feedback, and revision, students gain the ability to utilize precise evidence in their responses.

screenshot of example first attempt Reading for Evidence activity prompt

Students receive instant feedback on the quality of their writing.

An illustration of an A+ that is crossed out

"This is a safe space to practice your writing, so it won't be graded. Your teacher will see your revisions, but there are no scores or points."

An illustration of a smiling robot head

"We use artificial intelligence (AI) to help us give you feedback on your writing. You should know that AI isn't always correct."

An illustration of a pencil circled with a revision

"You'll be able to revise each sentence up to five times. We give you feedback because we want to help you write a stronger sentence."

Best Practices Highlight: Walking Students Through Reading for Evidence’s Onboarding Pages

When students are new to Reading for Evidence, it can be helpful to walk through the tool's onboarding pages together.

Best Practices Highlight: Introducing Students to Reading for Evidence and the Small-But-Mighty "Because," "But," & "So"

Introducing and framing Quill Reading for Evidence practice is key. Read on for ideas!

Best Practices Highlight: Extending Quill Reading for Evidence Practice

Ideas for extending the practice students are getting with "because," "but," and "so" into content and encouraging skill transfer

The Evidence-Base for the Quill Reading for Evidence Tool

Learn about the research that has informed the development of our first writing and reading tool!

Questions and Answers

Quill Reading for Evidence is our newest learning tool—and our first tool that supports students in building both language and reading skills. Each Reading for Evidence activity provides a high-interest, nonfiction text for students to read, and then engages them in expressing their understanding of that text through open-ended writing prompts.

Students are asked to write about a key idea from the text using the connectives because, but, and so. As students write and revise, Quill's artificial intelligence (AI) Feedback Bot coaches them to improve the accuracy and specificity of their evidence, refine their logic and syntax, and correct any grammatical errors. Like in Quill Connect, students can make up to 4 revisions for each prompt. Designed for students in grades 8-12, these activities take about 15-20 minutes for students to complete.

Over the last few years, we've watched as more and more digital tools enter classrooms that intend to improve students' reading and writing. We've been struck by the fact that virtually all of them assess student learning the same way: through multiple-choice questions. Many members of the Quill team are former teachers; we've seen firsthand what many students do with multiple-choice questions: they scan the text for the “right answer,” and move on as soon as they find it, or worse, they copy the answers from a friend or a quick Google search. We wanted to create a digital reading tool that would go beyond multiple-choice—to provide a rich learning experience, and not only an assessment of learning.

We began with a writing strategy in which students are asked to use the connectives because, but, and so to expand a provided sentence stem. In the paper-based version of this activity, a social studies teacher, for example, might give students the stem: “The British government wanted to vaccinate the public against smallpox…” A strong set of sentences in response might be:

  • The British government wanted to vaccinate the public against smallpox because smallpox was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in England every year.
  • The British government wanted to vaccinate the public against smallpox, but some citizens believed that it was a violation of their medical freedom.
  • The British government wanted to vaccinate the public against smallpox, so the British government made these laws mandatory.

This activity accomplishes so much simultaneously. Students have to read—and have to understand what they read—to complete the stems. Instead of selecting A, B, C, or D, they have to think through complex logical relationships: cause-effect and claim-counterclaim.

What's more, even with the wide variety of sentences they might write, students will get precise, targeted feedback. Quill's AI Feedback Bot can show students where to reread, suggest information to include in their response, or show them an exemplar to follow. Each activity's feedback is highly specific to the activity's text. In the end, each student completing a Reading for Evidence activity gets their own private coach.

How is this possible? Quill's curriculum developers write custom feedback for each Reading for Evidence text and writing prompt, so when a student submits a response, Quill's AI Feedback Bot compares the student's response to categories the team has created. The Bot determines which category the response falls into, and serves the appropriate feedback. Creating these activities is time- and labor-intensive, but being able to provide this rich reading and writing experience for students makes it well worth the effort.

We've launched Reading for Evidence with 14 activities, which you can see listed below. Over the coming year we'll be expanding the library (please let us know your content requests!).

Written at an 8th-9th grade reading level, each activity's text explores a complex question of interest to students, such as: Should schools have strict dress codes? Topics are relevant to English, social studies, and/or science, with a focus on 21st century, real-world issues. The activities for the launch are aligned to WordGen Weekly, a free, interdisciplinary curriculum. Reading for Evidence activities were designed to be used on their own, but can also be used in conjunction with the WordGen units (linked here).

School Policies & Student Life

Ethics in Science

Environmental Protection

Sports & Recreation

Alternative Energy & Sustainability

You may want to share the following with students before they complete a Reading for Evidence activity:

  • Sometimes Quill's AI Feedback Bot will give the wrong feedback. Try your best to use the feedback you've been given, and let Quill know when you've received unhelpful feedback (just click the “Report a Problem” button under that piece of feedback). You can also share general feedback on the tool through the optional emoji survey at the end of every activity.
  • You won't receive a score for these activities. Why? Quill wants you to focus on your comprehension, revision, and progress. (For more on this topic, check out this article.)
  • What kind of writing will Quill's AI Feedback Bot encourage and discourage?
    • These activities are all about specificity and accuracy. This means the Bot may ask for more detail if your response is accurate, but short.
    • If you write a response that is accurate but not based on evidence from the text, the Bot will ask you to revise using evidence from the text. Likewise, you will be discouraged from using direct quotations—the Bot will prompt you to put ideas into your own words.
    • The Bot will also discourage you from drawing your own conclusions or making claims or recommendations. (Of course, your teacher may want you to do this outside of these activities! But in Reading for Evidence, it's all about what's in the text.)

For more on introducing Reading for Evidence to students, check out this article.

The following are our recommendations for teachers using Reading for Evidence with students:

  1. Introduce students to Quill and the Reading for Evidence tool. Frame the work they are about to do. Explaining the function of the connectives because, but, and so) and providing examples can be particularly helpful.
  2. Walk students through the student onboarding section of a Reading for Evidence activity. These pages emphasize that the activity is not graded, the feedback may not always be correct, and that all writers revise.
  3. Model application of Reading for Evidence's feedback. This helps students develop the “soft skill” of applying feedback. This is also a great place to explain what Reading for Evidence is looking for.
  4. Align Reading for Evidence activities to your curriculum. Whenever possible, help students connect the content in Reading for Evidence activities to content they've studied in your class.
  5. Invite students to reflect on their thinking, writing, and learning in the tool. Have students use because, but, and so to extend their responses about content in class.

Read more about getting started using Reading for Evidence with your students in this article.

This first iteration of the Reading for Evidence tool is most appropriate for general education students in grades 8-12. However, the tool can provide valuable practice for students who don't fall into this category. Here are some ways you can support students who may need additional scaffolds:

  • Introduce the main idea of the text and front-load vocabulary. For example, images/illustrations, videos, magazine/newspaper articles, realia, etc. can be used to help students access an activity text and activate relevant schema.
  • Use browser extensions to provide read aloud and language support. Over the next several months and years, we will embed more scaffolds within the tool. For example, students will be able to hover over challenging vocabulary to see a student-friendly definition, etc. However, in the meantime, Reading for Evidence integrates with a variety of extensions that can provide important support.
  • Model how to find evidence and how to incorporate feedback. There is so much metacognition at work when completing these activities. Pulling back the curtain on that for students can be powerful— and empowering!

This Teacher Center article expands on the tips above and links to extensions that integrate with Reading for Evidence.

This article in Quill's Teacher Center gives detailed directions for finding, previewing, and assigning Reading Evidence activities (either from the Activity Library or from the Featured Activity Packs page). We also have a library of resources dedicated to Reading for Evidence in the “Reading Comprehension” section of our Teacher Center—we recommend starting with our introductory article.

We are extremely eager to hear any and all of your feedback about Reading for Evidence! Please send your questions and/or feedback to [email protected]. If you want to request any topics or scaffolds for the tool, please let us know here: You can also live chat with our Support team through the green message bubble on the bottom right corner of the site.

Try It Out for Yourself

Try a sample activity

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