TEXT-DEPENDENT
QUESTIONS
Professional Development Module
Adapted from presentations available at achievethecore.org and fisherandfrey.com
Grades 6-12 Reading Standards
The CCSS Requires Three
Shifts in ELA/Literacy
O
Building knowledge through content-rich
nonfiction
O
Reading, writing and speaking grounded in
evidence from text, both literary and informational
O
Regular practice with complex text and its
academic language
Shift # 2: Text Dependent
Questions
1. Building knowledge through content-rich
nonfiction
2. Reading, writing and speaking grounded
in evidence from text, both literary and
informational
3. Regular practice with complex text and its
academic language
“Read like a detective,
write like a reporter.”
Time – In and Out of the Text
• More instructional time spent outside the text means
less time inside the text.
• Departing from the text in classroom discussion
privileges only those who already have experience
with the topic.
• It is easier to talk about our experiences than to
analyze the text—especially for students reluctant to
engage with reading.
• The CCSS are College and Career Readiness
Standards.
Text-Dependent Questions are
not…

Low-level, literal, or recall questions

Focused on comprehension strategies

Just questions…
Text-Dependent Questions...
• Can only be answered with evidence from the text.
• Can be literal (checking for understanding) but must
also involve analysis, synthesis, evaluation.
• Focus on word, sentence, and paragraph, as well as
larger ideas, themes, or events.
• Focus on difficult portions of text in order to enhance
reading proficiency.
• Can also include prompts for writing and discussion
questions.
Three Types of Text-Dependent
Questions
OWhen you're writing or reviewing a set of questions,
consider the following three categories:
•Questions that assess themes and central ideas
•Questions that assess knowledge of vocabulary
•Questions that assess syntax and structure
“Every book
has a skeleton
hidden
between its
covers. Your
job as an
analytic reader
is to find it.”
Adler and Van Doren, 1940/1972
Non-Examples and Examples
Not Text-Dependent
OIn “Casey at the Bat,” Casey strikes
out. Describe a time when you failed at
something.
OIn “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr.
King discusses nonviolent protest.
Discuss, in writing, a time when you
wanted to fight against something that
you felt was unfair.
OIn “The Gettysburg Address” Lincoln
says the nation is dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created
equal. Why is equality an important
value to promote?
Text-Dependent
What makes Casey’s
experiences at bat humorous?
What can you infer from King’s
letter about the letter that he
received?
“The Gettysburg Address”
mentions the year 1776.
According to Lincoln’s speech,
why is this year significant to
the events described in the
speech?
Progression of
Text-dependent Questions
Whole
Across texts
Opinions, Arguments,
Intertextual Connections
Inferences
Entire text
Segments
Author’s Purpose
Paragraph
Vocab & Text Structure
Sentence
Key Details
Word
General Understandings
Part
Key Details in Kindergarten
O How long did it take to go from a hatched
egg to a butterfly?
O What is one food that gave him a
stomachache? What is one food that did not
him a stomachache?
It took more than 3
weeks. He ate for one
week, and then “he
stayed inside [his
cocoon] for more than
two weeks.”
Foods that did not give him a
stomachache
O Apples
O Pears
O Plums
O Strawberries
Foods that gave him a
stomachache
O Chocolate cake
O Ice cream
O Pickle
O Swiss cheese
O Salami
O Oranges
O Lollipop
O Green leaf
O Cherry pie
O Sausage
O Cupcake
O watermelon
Vocabulary and Text Structure
O Bridges literal and inferential
O
O
O
O
O
meanings
Denotation
Connotation
Shades of meaning
Figurative language
How organization contributes
to meaning
Vocabulary in Kindergarten
How does the author help us to understand
what cocoon means?
There is an illustration of the
cocoon, and a sentence that reads,
“He built a small house, called a
cocoon, around himself.”
Author’s Purpose
O Genre: Entertain? Explain? Inform?
Persuade?
O Point of view: First-person, thirdperson limited, omniscient,
unreliable narrator
O Critical Literacy: Who’s story is not
represented?
Author’s Purpose in
Kindergarten
Who tells the story—the narrator or the
caterpillar?
A narrator tells the story,
because he uses the words he
and his. If it was the caterpillar,
he would say I and my.
Inferences
argument in persuasive
text, each idea in informational text,
each key detail in literary text, and observe
how these build to a whole.
Probe each
Inferences in Kindergarten
The title of the book is The
Very Hungry Caterpillar. How
do we know he is hungry?
The caterpillar ate food every day “but
he was still hungry.” On Saturday he
ate so much food he got a
stomachache! Then he was “a big, fat
caterpillar” so he could build a cocoon
and turn into a butterfly.
Opinions, Arguments, and
Intertextual Connections
O
O
O
O
O
O
Author’s opinion and reasoning (K-5)
Claims
Evidence
Counterclaims
Ethos, Pathos, Logos
Rhetoric
Links to other texts throughout the
grades
Opinions and Intertextual
Connections in Kindergarten
Narrative
Is this a happy story
or a sad one? How
do you know?
Informational
How are these two
books similar? How
are they different?
A Secondary Example
27
A Close Reading of
“Salvador, Late or Early”
Cisneros, S. (1992). Woman Hollering Creek. New York: Vintage
Establishing Purpose
To examine how the author sheds
light on the interior life of this
character using poetic language in
order to deeply affect the reader.
First Reading:
Students Read and Write Independently
Read with a pencil to annotate text
• What powerful words or phrases
affect you? Circle
• What confuses you? Underline
Quick-write
What are your impressions of Salvador
and the people in his life?
Discussion:
Partner Talk to Check Meaning
Describe your impressions
of Salvador and the people
in his life. Remember to
use accountable talk
(asking questions,
providing evidence from
the text) to compare and
contrast your impressions
with one another.
Second Reading:
Teacher Modeling
Read the entire passage
aloud, without
interruption. Be sure to
orient students to the
text and ask them to
follow along.
Text-dependent Questions
What are his strengths? What
are his needs? What words and
phrases does the author use for
each?
Key Details Question
Text-dependent Questions
How does Cisneros use color? To
what effect?
How does Cisneros use school
words? To what effect?
Vocabulary and Organization Questions
Text-dependent Questions
One sentence is more than 80
words long, and another is more
than 100 words long. Why?
Vocabulary and Organization Questions
Text-dependent Questions
Examine the use of contrasts again.
What does the author want us to
know about Salvador?
Author’s Purpose Question
Text-dependent Questions
Salvador means “savior.” Is he
the savior of his family?
Inference Question
Text-dependent Questions
Would a title change to
“Heather, Late or Early” change
your perspective? Why?
Opinions and Intertextual Connections
Question
Creating Text-Dependent
Questions
Step One:
Identify the core understandings and key ideas of the
text.
Step Two:
Start small to build confidence.
Step Three: Target vocabulary and text structure.
Step Four:
Tackle tough sections head-on.
Step Five:
Create coherent sequences of text-dependent
questions.
Step Six:
Identify the standards that are being addressed.
Step Seven: Create the culminating assessment.
Core Understanding and Key
Ideas
• Reverse-engineered or backwardsdesigned
• Crucial for creating an overarching set of
successful questions
• Critical for creating an appropriate
culminating assignment
Vocabulary
OWhich words should be taught?
O Essential to understanding text
O Likely to appear in future reading
Which words should get more time and attention?
O More abstract words (as opposed to concrete words)
persist vs. checkpoint
noticed vs. accident
O Words which are part of semantic word family
secure, securely, security, secured
Structure and Text Dependent
Questions
OView the clip of the close reading of “Papa’s
Waltz” by Theodore Roethke.
OHow does the teacher in the video focus the
students’ attention on the structure of the
poem and its importance to the central theme?
OWhat text dependent questions does he use
to accomplish this?
Reading Strategies and TextDependent Questions
• Text-dependent questions generally call on
students to employ reading strategies.
• Strategies are no longer taught in isolation.
• The text and readers’ need to comprehend it
should determine what strategies are activated not the other way around.
Final Thoughts
•There is no one right way to have students work with
text dependent questions.
•Providing for the differing needs of students means
providing and scaffolding supports differentially - not
asking easier questions or substituting simpler text.
•Listening and speaking should be built into any
sequence of activities along with reading and writing:
O “Re-read it, think it, talk it, write it”
•The CCSS require ALL students to read and engage
with grade appropriate complex text regularly. This
requires new ways of working in our classrooms.
Practice
• In small groups, read the brief handout from
the International Reading Association on
Text-Dependent Questions
• Select a packet of text for your group from
those available
• Work within your group to develop 2-3 text
dependent questions for each category from
your text.
• Be prepared to share and defend your
questions!
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Text-Dependent Questions