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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. Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction

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text dependent questions
Text-Dependent Questions

Professional Development Module

Adapted from presentations available at achievethecore.org and fisherandfrey.com

the ccss requires three shifts in ela literacy
The CCSS Requires Three Shifts in ELA/Literacy
  • Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction
  • Reading, writing and speaking grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational
  • Regular practice with complex text and its academic language
shift 2 text dependent questions
Shift # 2: Text Dependent Questions
  • Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction
  • Reading, writing and speaking grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational
  • Regular practice with complex text and its academic language
time in and out of the text
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
Text-Dependent Questions are not…
  • Low-level, literal, or recall questions
  • Focused on comprehension strategies
  • Just questions…
text dependent questions1
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
Three Types of Text-Dependent Questions
  • When 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


Non-Examples and Examples

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?

  • In “Casey at the Bat,” Casey strikes out. Describe a time when you failed at something.
  • In “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.
  • In “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?
progression of text dependent questions
Progression of Text-dependent Questions



Entire text






key details in kindergarten
Key Details in Kindergarten
  • How long did it take to go from a hatched egg to a butterfly?
  • 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 gave him a stomachache






Green leaf

Chocolate cake

Ice cream


Swiss cheese



Cherry pie




Foods that did not give him a stomachache

vocabulary and text structure
Vocabulary and Text Structure
  • Bridges literal and inferential meanings
  • Denotation
  • Connotation
  • Shades of meaning
  • Figurative language
  • How organization contributes to meaning
vocabulary in kindergarten
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
Author’s Purpose
  • Genre: Entertain? Explain? Inform? Persuade?
  • Point of view: First-person, third-person limited, omniscient, unreliable narrator
  • Critical Literacy: Who’s story is not represented?
author s purpose in kindergarten
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.

Probe each argument in persuasive text, each idea in informational text, each key detail in literary text, and observe how these build to a whole.

inferences in kindergarten
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
Opinions, Arguments, and Intertextual Connections
  • 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
Opinions and Intertextual Connections in Kindergarten


Is this a happy story or a sad one? How do you know?

How are these two books similar? How are they different?


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?

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

core understanding and key ideas
Core Understanding and Key Ideas
  • Reverse-engineered or backwards-designed
  • Crucial for creating an overarching set of successful questions
  • Critical for creating an appropriate culminating assignment
  • Which words should be taught?
    • Essential to understanding text
    • Likely to appear in future reading

Which words should get more time and attention?

    • More abstract words (as opposed to concrete words)

persist vs. checkpoint

noticed vs. accident

    • Words which are part of semantic word family

secure, securely, security, secured

structure and text dependent questions
Structure and Text Dependent Questions
  • View the clip of the close reading of “Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke.
  • How does the teacher in the video focus the students’ attention on the structure of the poem and its importance to the central theme?
  • What text dependent questions does he use to accomplish this?
reading strategies and text dependent questions
Reading Strategies and Text-Dependent 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
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:
    • “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.
  • 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!