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Claim, Support, Question

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you implement Claim, Support, Question in your classroom.

In our rapidly evolving world saturated with information, nurturing students' robust critical thinking skills is paramount to their ability to discern the accuracy and credibility of the information they encounter. A potent tool to achieve this goal is the thinking routine named Claim-Support-Question. This routine equips students with essential techniques to recognize, analyse, and engage with the "truth claims" they encounter regularly. Truth claims are statements presented as facts but often lack substantial evidence to validate their authenticity. These claims might take the form of opinions, generalisations, hypotheses, or propositions. Recognizing and evaluating these claims serve as foundational steps in fostering critical thinking. Claim-Support-Question provides a structured approach that guides students to probe deeper into encountered claims, promoting a more discerning and reflective approach to information.

Claim-Support-Question serves as a structured thinking routine with a dual purpose: recognizing and probing truth claims. In educational settings, students are exposed to a multitude of assertions and beliefs. This routine aids students in identifying patterns, assertions, and generalisations within these claims. Furthermore, students are prompted to critically examine these claims by seeking supporting evidence and considering elements that raise doubts about the claim's veracity. This routine transcends the realm of simple agreement or disagreement with a claim; it encourages students to explore the intricacies and nuances that envelop the claim, acknowledging that truth is seldom black and white.

The routine provides educators like you with a well-structured approach to elevate classroom discussions. By steering students towards considering evidence as the ultimate arbiter of a claim's credibility, Claim-Support-Question fosters analytical thinking, evidence-based reasoning, and a deeper engagement with the subject matter. This process propels students beyond expressing mere opinions, guiding them into a realm of substantiated thought. Consequently, not only are their critical thinking skills fortified, but they also acquire the capacity to participate thoughtfully in meaningful conversations, enhancing their ability to contribute substantively to various discussions and debates.

The most significant advantage of integrating Claim-Support-Question into your teaching repertoire lies in the empowerment of students as informed thinkers and astute consumers of information. By guiding students to systematically evaluate claims, this routine equips them with a dependable method to navigate the deluge of information they encounter. Through actively seeking supporting evidence and critically questioning claims, students develop an enhanced ability to distinguish fact from conjecture. These skills extend far beyond the classroom, enabling students to make well-informed decisions in both their academic pursuits and real-world interactions. As you integrate Claim-Support-Question into your teaching strategies, you play a pivotal role in cultivating a generation equipped to navigate the intricacies of our information-driven world with clarity and sagacious critical thinking. .We have put together a step-by-step guide that will help you pull off Claim-Support-Question in your classroom:

Planning the process

As you plan a lesson using the Claim-Support-Question framework in your classroom, there are several key actions and thinking processes you should consider in order to effectively engage your students in critical thinking and exploration. Here are three important things you must do:

Step 1

Selecting relevant and controversial claims

Begin by identifying relevant and thought-provoking claims that are aligned with your subject matter. These claims should have the potential to spark discussion and debate among your students. Reflect on the claims presented in the given information and think about how they relate to your curriculum. Consider claims that are open to interpretation, invite analysis, or might prompt diverse viewpoints. For example, if teaching a biology class, you might choose a claim related to the impact of a specific environmental factor on a particular species' behaviour. This claim could stimulate discussions about research methods, data interpretation, and broader ecological implications.

Step 2

Generating supporting evidence and counterarguments

Create a well-rounded set of supporting evidence and potential counterarguments for the chosen claim. These should include a mix of reliable sources, data, and examples that students can use to explore the validity of the claim. Put yourself in your students' shoes and anticipate the kinds of questions and challenges they might raise. Consider different perspectives and alternative explanations that could arise during discussions. For example, when discussing a historical claim about the motivations behind a significant event, provide excerpts from primary sources, scholarly analyses, and differing viewpoints to help students evaluate the claim's accuracy and context.

Step 3

Crafting thought-provoking questions

Design probing questions that encourage students to critically evaluate the claim, analyse the supporting evidence, and engage in meaningful discussions. Consider the types of questions that will guide students toward deeper understanding. These questions should prompt students to clarify their own thoughts, evaluate the strength of evidence, and consider alternative interpretations.For example, for a claim about a character's motivations in a novel, pose questions that encourage students to closely examine the text, analyse the character's actions, and provide textual evidence to support their interpretations.

Performing the process

You can conduct Claim-Support-Question over the course of two to three class periods, approximately 35 to 45 minutes each.

Step 1

Introduction to claims

You will start by introducing the concept of claims to your students. Explain that a claim is a statement about "what's going on here." Use relatable examples to help them understand the idea. You could say, "Imagine you have an idea or statement that explains a situation. That's your claim." Emphasise that claims can be like explanations, interpretations, theories, or statements of fact. Let them know that the goal is to better understand the truth and reality of different situations.

Step 2

Identifying claims

Ask your students to share any claims, explanations, or interpretations they might already have about a particular topic. Encourage open discussion and write down their claims on chart paper or the board. Make sure to leave space for additional claims to be added later. You could say, "What ideas do you already have about this topic? Let's share our initial thoughts and claims."

Step 3

Finding support

Guide your students in identifying evidence or reasons that could support the claims they've listed. Ask questions like, "What can we see, notice, know, or find that might give support to these claims?" Encourage critical thinking and discussion about the reasons behind the claims. Write down the supporting evidence near each claim for everyone to see. You might say, "Let's think about why these claims could be true. What evidence or reasons do we have?"

Step 4

Questioning the claims

Now, challenge your students to think sceptical about the claims and the evidence provided. Ask them to consider what might make them doubt the truth or accuracy of the claims. Encourage them to raise questions and explore potential weaknesses in the arguments. You could say, "Let's take a critical look at these claims. What questions could we ask to examine their credibility? What might we need to explore further?"

Step 5

Sharing and reflecting

Document the entire process on chart paper or the board, including claims, supporting evidence, and questions raised. After thoroughly examining the claims, have students take a stance on them. You might use a visual representation, like a line of confidence from "still questioning" to "definitely believe." Allow students to share their positions and reasoning with the class.

Step 6

Applying Claim-Support-Question individually or in small groups

Once the whole group routine is understood, encourage students to use the Claim-Support-Question routine individually or in small groups. Provide them with a journal or a designated space to document their claims, evidence, and questions. Let them explore various topics and practise the routine on their own or with peers.

Step 7

Whole group discussion and sharing

Bring the class back together and invite individuals or small groups to share their findings from using the Claim-Support-Question routine. Encourage them to present their claims, supporting evidence, and questions. Allow other students to respond with additional support or new questions. This promotes a collaborative learning environment.

Step 8

Reflection and deeper thinking

After sharing, take a moment to reflect on the activity as a class. Ask students about any new thoughts they have regarding the topic. Discuss how this process of analysing claims, seeking evidence, and raising questions has deepened their understanding. Emphasise that thoughtful questions often lead to a more profound comprehension of the topic and reasoning process.

Step 9

Continuous integration

As you use the Claim-Support-Question routine in your classroom, pay attention to how often and in what contexts students are spotting and making claims. Encourage them to challenge broad-stroked explanations and seek generalisations that get to the heart of an event. Also, observe their strategies for assessing the validity of claims and evidence, and guide them toward distinguishing solid evidence from opinion or personal experience.

Improving the process

When implementing the Claim-Support-Question framework in your classroom, there are several important things you should keep in mind to ensure its effectiveness and impact on your students' learning experience. Remember that Claim-Support-Question serves as an overarching structure for the exploration of ideas and the generation of new understanding. It's essential to foster an environment where students are encouraged to go beyond surface-level comprehension and actively engage in critical thinking. Instead of merely absorbing information, emphasise the importance of analysing and evaluating claims with substantial evidence. This approach enables students to delve into complex issues from various perspectives, honing their analytical skills and promoting a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Claim-Support-Question is all about helping students reason through complex topics from diverse angles and viewpoints. Emphasise the value of considering different perspectives and providing well-founded support for their claims. By doing so, you empower students to think critically, weigh evidence, and appreciate the complexity of real-world issues. This practice not only enhances their cognitive abilities but also prepares them to engage in meaningful discussions and debates.

It's crucial to avoid creating an environment where students expect you to provide definitive answers. Instead, use Claim-Support-Question to foster independent exploration and self-directed learning. Allow students to question, analyse, and seek out evidence on their own. If a student misses an important point, consider posing questions that encourage them to explore further rather than simply providing the answer. By doing this, you encourage a sense of curiosity and a commitment to seeking knowledge that goes beyond the classroom.

Keep in mind that Claim-Support-Question doesn't always aim to achieve unanimous agreement or disagreement on a specific topic. Encourage open discussion and a respectful exchange of ideas. Sometimes, the goal is to facilitate a nuanced understanding of complex issues rather than drawing rigid lines in the sand. By promoting respectful debate and allowing students to voice diverse opinions, you create a dynamic learning environment where students can refine their viewpoints through thoughtful dialogue.


This modified version of Claim-Support-Question, inspired by Project Zero's Thinking Routines Toolbox, is the result of our application of it within Indian classrooms. We want to express our gratitude to the researchers responsible for developing Project Zero's Thinking Routines Toolbox and making it available for the global teaching community.

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