Friday, March 28, 2014

text-dependent questions

The last post was dedicated to the Close Reading (CCSS Reading Standard 1) of complex text (CCSS Standard 10), which is a way to teach students to read a text which enables them to do the work required in the CCSS Reading Standards 2-9.

But in order to maximize a close reading, teachers need to prepare complex, text-dependent questions for students to answer. Questions that ask students to go back to the text for the answer, rather than their prior knowledge or experiences. Questions that probe the deeper meaning of text, rather than move to questions beyond the text before the levels of meaning have been uncovered. Engage NY has a great video to introduce the idea of text-dependent questions. As in the last post, we have been so good at teaching text-to-self connections, we sometimes leave it at that for comprehension. Students are left thinking that comprehension comes from their prior knowledge and experiences, rather than an investigation of the text. We need students to get lots of practice answering questions that require them to go back to the text to respond.

But writing thoughtful, complex questions requires planning. The first step is really understanding the benchmarks for your grade level. These benchmarks provide the framework for the type of questions to ask. Focus on key ideas and details, then the craft and structure, and finally, the integration of ideas, just as the benchmarks are laid out. Achieve the Core has a great Guide to Creating Text Dependent Questions, as well as a Checklist for Evaluating Question Quality of your own questions or those that come with your published materials.

Something that ALL teachers need to keep in mind is that these standards, the CCSS, can be met in all classes. Close reading of text and text-dependent questions can be a part of any content area. Indeed, any class that relies on text of any sort can keep close reading and text-dependent questions in mind throughout planning.


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