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Text Dependent Questions

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Lisa Halvis

on 10 October 2013

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Transcript of Text Dependent Questions

Text Dependent Questions
What are TDQs?
Why TDQs?
Anchor Chart

Text Dependent Questions and the CCSS, Aspen Institute, 2012.
Fisher, Douglas. "Text Complexity: Raising Rigor in Reading." Text Complexity: Raising Rigor in Reading: Nancy Frey, and Diane Lapp, Douglas Fisher
Carole Mullins & Linda Holbrook, KDE


There is an illustration of the cocoon, and a sentence that reads, “He built a small house, called a cocoon, around himself.”

It took more than 3 weeks. He ate for one week, and then “he stayed inside [his cocoon] for more than two weeks.”

Was there ever a time where an animal scared you? (Personal experience)
Can bears really eat people? (Imaginative speculation)
Will Opal and Amanda ever be friends? (Opinion)
Explain how reading this story made you feel about visiting a library? (Background knowledge and personal experience)

Because of Winn Dixie—Examples of Non-Text Dependent Questions

© 2012 The Aspen Institute

“Close Reading” of a Stand-Alone Text

Require students to engage with text at higher levels.
Discover answers by extracting evidence from the text.
Are CCSS aligned questions (mirror CCSS aligned assessments).

Text Dependent Questions…

Differences in Depth:
Text versus Non-Text-Dependent Questions

Examples from Alice in Wonderland:
Are books without pictures or conversations useful?
How would you react if you saw a talking rabbit?
Would Alice have followed the rabbit down the hole if she had not seen it look at a watch?
What do you know about Lewis Carroll?

Non-Text Dependent Questions

Close Reading of a Sample Text

Questions must originate from the text itself
Questions focus on a word, sentence, paragraph(s)
Open, not leading questions
Provide learning opportunity for students
Require thought/discussion about the question (no right answer immediately provided)
Cause students to linger over portions of the text, looking for specific answers, not just “getting the gist”

Text Dependent Questions

Instruction should…
Focus on words, sentences, paragraphs that pose the biggest challenge to confidence, comprehension, and stamina
Ask text dependent questions that require students to closely examine the text
Ask students to make inferences based on evidence beyond what is explicitly stated
Pay close attention to a variety of text structures

Elements of Close Reading Instruction


Key Shift in CCSS from 4.1

Close Reading

Dr. Douglas Fisher
Close Reading and the CCSS, Part 2


Close Reading

Dr. Douglas Fisher
Close Reading and the CCSS, Part 1


Methodical investigation of a complex text through…
Answering text-dependent questions
Unpacking the text’s meaning
Directing students to:
examine and analyze text at a deep level of critical thinking
focus on word/sentence meaning
focus on development of events and ideas
extract evidence from the text
make non-trivial inferences based on what they have read

What is Close Reading?

A narrator tells the story, because he uses the words he and his. If it was the caterpillar, he would say I and my.

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?

Search for nuances in meaning
Determine importance of ideas
Find supporting details that support main ideas
Answers who, what, when, where, why, how much, or how many.

Key Details

What would these levels look like for kindergarten?
General Understandings
Key Details
Vocabulary and Text Structure
Author’s Purpose

Based on the covers of the books, what is the mood/tone of each book?

Why was Stellaluna embarrassed?

Based on the picture? What is BB Wolf planning to do?

What does “Fix-it-up” mean?

Text Dependent Questions

Looking at Pictures and Graphics

As you read this story, what do you think about plants and animals in Florida?

How can an older woman make her library safe from unwanted visitors?

This author has won prizes for her books. Why? Find a part of this story you think could win a prize. –- This of course asks the student to have a grasp of the criteria that publishers use in awarding prizes

In Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal tells about her experiences after moving to a new town. Think about a time that you were a newcomer to a place or situation. Now use vivid words to write a memoir about that experience. --- In addition to having very little to do with the selection this question assumes that all 4th or 5th graders have had that experience. More insidiously and as with all these questions it privileges students who have discussed these types of questions with adults- usually children from more educated families.

TDQ: Beware of Basals

… which wouldn’t be necessary anyway since most of these basal readers include a high proportion of non-text dependent questions (including the writing prompts for basal texts)…
… and required students to perform multiple tasks that are irrelevant to understanding the text being read (i.e. focus on using comprehension strategies as an end in themselves)

Text-Dependent Questions and Basal Readers

© 2012 The Aspen Institute

Text-Dependent Questions and Basal Readers

Basal reading programs by the four major publishers comprise 80% of all the texts used in elementary and middle school
Most of these texts rely heavily on non-text based pre-reading activities that “digest and regurgitate” the primary text and eliminate the need for close reading…

Beware of Basals!!

Write your own Text-Dependent Question for the MKL piece.

Text Dependent Question

Creating Text-Dependent Questions for Informational Text

From Martin Luther King’s note to “Letter from Birmingham Jail”:
Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly Negro trusty, and concluded on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to leave me.

© 2012 The Aspen Institute

Guidelines for Creating
Text-Dependent Questions

Why did the author choose a particular word?
Analyze the impact of syntax of a sentence
Collect evidence
Test comprehension of key ideas/arguments
Analyze how portions of the text relate to each other and the whole
Look for pivot points in a paragraph
Track down patterns in a text
Notice what is missing or understood
Investigate beginnings and endings of a text

Framing Text Dependent Questions

Determine ideas or themes and analyze their development(Standard 2)
Summarize key supporting details and ideas (Standard 2)
Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact (Standard 3)
Analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone (Standard 4)
Interpret technical, connotative, and figurative meanings of words and phrases (Standard 4)
Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics (Standard 9)
Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style (Standard 6)
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats (Standard 7)
Assess the validity of the reasoning (Standard 8)
Assess the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence (Standard 8)

Text Dependent Questions and CCSS

Text Dependent Questions

Do NOT rely on…
Personal opinion
Background information
Imaginative speculation

Text Dependent Questions

What kind of books does Alice find useful?

How did Alice react when she saw a talking rabbit?

Why did Alice follow the rabbit down the hole?

What does the reader know about the rabbit?

Text Dependent Questions

80 to 90% of the ELA Reading Standards in each grade level require text dependent analysis

One of the first and most important steps to implementing the ELA Common Core Standards is to focus on identifying, evaluating, and creating text-dependent questions

Deep Reading, the kind encouraged by the common core standards, asks students to “read like a detective”, looking closely for details

Rather than asking students questions about their prior knowledge or experiences, the standards expect students to struggle with text-dependent questions


Why Ask Text Dependent Questions

Can be used to…
Identify key ideas in complex text

Should cause students to think at higher levels by…
Make logical inferences
Draw conclusions
Engage in arguments based on what the text syas

Text Dependent Questions…

Low-level, literal, or recall questions
“right there” questions
Focused on comprehension strategies
Just questions…

Rigorous Text-Dependent Questions should not be…

A teacher should…
Focus on a sequential/integrated line of inquiry
Synthesize and organize evidence, demonstrating understanding both orally and through writing
Become aware of nuances in word meaning AND
Acquire knowledge of general academic vocabulary to understand a range of complex texts

Elements of Close Reading Instruction

Anchor Standards for Reading
Prioritize close reading skills of:
Extracting evidence (Standard 1)
Making inferences (Standard 1)
Reading complex text (Standard 10)
Determining central idea/theme (Standard 2)
Building knowledge by comparing two or more texts (Standard 9)
Citing evidence to support conclusions (1 & 10)

Close Reading and the CCSS

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

The CCSS Requires Three Shifts in ELA/Literacy

Who tells the story—the narrator or the caterpillar?

Author’s Purpose in Kindergarten

How does the author help us to understand what cocoon means?

Vocabulary in Kindergarten

Bridges literal and inferential meanings
Shades of meaning
Figurative language
How organization contributes to meaning

Vocabulary and Text Structure

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?

Key Details in Kindergarten

Retell the story in order using the words beginning, middle, and end.

General Understandings in Kindergarten

Overall view
Sequence of information
Story arc
Main claim and evidence
Gist of passage

General Understandings

Practice with your own texts.

Writing Text Dependent Questions

“Letter from Birmingham Jail” demonstrates that:

An effective text dependent question delves into a text to guide students in extracting the key meanings or ideas and events found there.
Text dependent questions begin by exploring specific words, details, explanations and arguments.
Teachers investigate the text through utilizing the Anchor and/or Grade-level Reading Standards to generate the question.

Creating Text-Dependent Questions for Informational Text

From Martin Luther King’s note to “Letter from Birmingham Jail”:
Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly Negro trusty, and concluded on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to leave me.

Creating Text-Dependent Questions for Informational Text

From Martin Luther King’s note to “Letter from Birmingham Jail”:
Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly Negro trusty, and concluded on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to leave me.

Read the opening of Brian Lies’ Bats at the Beach
With a partner, write one Text-Dependent Question for each stanza aligned to a CCSS anchor standard
Share your question with others at your table

Evaluate your TDQ based on the samples provided


© 2012 The Aspen Institute

Tools for Creating Text-Dependent Questions:
Text-Dependent Question Worksheet

A systematic approach to creating text- dependent questions for complex texts while aligning them with the demands of the CCSS.

Sue Pimentel, Lead Author of Common Core State Standards for ELA/Literacy

80-90% of (CCSS) reading standards require text-dependent analysis yet over 30% of questions in major textbooks do not.

Which of these books would you rather read? Why?

© 2012 The Aspen Institute

Text-dependent questions:
Draw the reader back to the text to discover what it says.
Have concrete and explicit answers rooted in the text.
Frame inquiries in ways that do not rely on a mix of personal opinion, background information, and imaginative speculation.

What are Text-Dependent Questions?

Close reading instruction:
Requires careful attention to how the text unfolds through asking text-dependent questions.
Focuses on building knowledge through the strategic use of text-dependent questions.
Can prepare students for the kinds of reading tasks they will encounter after graduation.
Despite its name, close reading has a lot more to do with writing than reading! (Fisher)

Why Depth through
“Close Reading” Matters


Year 3

Year 2

Year 1

Which of these books would you rather read? Why?

© 2012 The Aspen Institute

Tools for Creating Text-Dependent Questions:
Basal Reader Review Worksheet

A systematic approach to revising Basal reader questions to align them with the demands of the CCSS.

What words gave you some
meaning to this text?

Creating Text-Dependent Questions for Informational Text

From Martin Luther King’s author’s note “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

Reflect on this question then explain to an elbow partner how you could teach this skill to your students.

What did you do as a “Close Reader” when you read the excerpt from


Educational Leadership, March 2012
The Challenge of Challenging Text
Timothy Shanahan, Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey

Vocabulary: Knowledge of word meaning
Sentence Structure: How the words operate together
Coherence: How particular words, ideas, and sentences in text connect with one another
Organization: The patterns authors use to communicate complex information
Background Knowledge: The reader’s prior knowledge

What Makes Text Complex?

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.


Moves from literal to interpretive

Requires students to return to the text to formulate responses

Text-dependent Questioning
(Another Specialized Piece of Equipment)

Foods that gave him a stomachache

Green leaf

Foods that did not give him a stomachache


Not 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?

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?

Non-Examples and Examples




Across texts

Entire text




Progression of
Text-dependent Questions

Increasing Range and Complexity

Standard Ten

Standard One

Standards Two through Nine

Increased Ability to Use Text Evidence

How to TDQ?
Reading A-Z
Shared Reading
Full transcript