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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.

The power of questions

ANet blog

As a mission-driven nonprofit organization, our primary concern is helping ensure equitable opportunity for all students.

Working alongside schools, we’ve learned that great teaching is grounded in standards, data, and insights shared among educators. We believe a blog can help us make a difference by spreading the ideas and effective practices of educators we work with.

We’re proud of the expertise our team has built over our ten years, and we'll be featuring contributions from ANetters across the org on topics in which they’ve immersed themselves.

Help us spread opportunity for all students: please share posts that you find valuable with your colleagues. And please add your thoughts in the comments: we would love this blog to facilitate knowledge-sharing in all directions.

The power of questions

Jeff Odell

by Sarah Tierney

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 practice these skills:

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.

Click below to learn how to craft a powerful series of questions that will support students as they delve into text-centered reading, writing, and discussion.

We’ve spent ten years learning from thousands of leaders and teachers across the country about the things that make a big difference for schools. Now, we want to give you the opportunity to do the same. We’ve organized these Lessons From the Field in a new section of our website by our main areas of focus—everything from harnessing the power of formative assessments to fostering a culture of adult learning.

Sarah is a director of new partnerships and former coach at ANet. She’s leading the Lessons From the Field project.

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