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225 Friend Street, Suite 704
Boston, MA 02114

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ANet is a nonprofit dedicated to the premise that every child in America deserves an excellent education and the opportunities it provides. We pursue our vision of educational equality in America by helping schools boost student learning with great teaching that is grounded in standards, informed by data, and built on the successful practices of educators around the country.

Crafting text-dependent questions to guide reading, writing, and discussion

We use thought-provoking questions to push students to find evidence in the text to support their ideas.

When someone asks you a question, the ball’s in your court. Your brain  engages in a deeper, more active way than if information were being fed to you. Teachers take advantage of this phenomenon when they ask thoughtful questions that push students to cite evidence and make inferences based on the text.

Reading Standard 1 explicitly calls for students to be able to do this: 

Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. 

Teachers can help students learn to think and reason this way by using text-dependent questions to guide how students engage with texts.

Watch this video of 2nd grade teacher Lucy Makuro, from Alain Locke Charter School in Chicago, IL, to learn how she uses text-dependent questions to guide her lessons and give her insight into students' learning.

It's important to remember that the goal is not to ask text-dependent questions for the sake of asking text-dependent questions but rather, to use scaffolded, sequenced questions to help students understand and make meaning of the text. Crafting your questions ahead of time, as well as follow-up questions you might ask if students struggle, ensures everyone stays on track, driving toward the questions that will help students unlock the meaning of the text.

We created this guide to help you take a text-dependent approach to planning, emphasizing the importance of text-dependent questions that offer students opportunities to write and discuss their ideas. If this approach is new to you or your team, watch this screencast to learn more about the why, what, and how of text-dependent questioning.