Using the author's words to support a students words requires some skill at first but ultimately it makes for a very strong writer. It is also a common core standard so that makes it kind of important too ha!
The point I like to drive home it that what you have to say is really good. BUT when what you say is supported by what the author says (a credible source) it makes your writing/argument/topic much stronger!
Here are the two biggest problems I noticed when introducing using evidence from the text with direct quotes & how I fixed them.
1. The quotes made no sense
I think some students get a little overwhelmed with having to not only write an essay but also pick out and cite quotes.
Evidence from the text has to make sense to the students writing so picking quality quotes is more important to me than the quantity of quotes.
How I fixed it- During the brainstorming process students are required to pick out the quotes they would like to use in their essay. I usually had them make a web surrounding the quote with their explanation. If their explanation and quote didn't belong in the web together, then it wasn't the right piece of evidence for their essay. The web made it very apparent to them.
2. They didn't cite correctly
This is a big one because if they don't cite correctly, they are just stealing the author's words.
How I fixed it- I created a detailed lesson showing them how to use a quote in their essay and then we practiced over and over and over again on white boards (white boards are magic aren't they?!?). Each morning when they came in the room, I had a question ready for them to answer based on the novel they were reading. They provided an answer to the question using a direct quote. We did it together at first, then as individuals where we shared good and poor answers as a class, and then we moved to checking them with partners. Finally I had a few "expert" quote masters who walked around the room helping the rest of the students.
We spent TWO WEEKS on this. Yes, that is a lot of time. But they sure were masters after that. When it came to end of the year testing/assessments, they were pros!