Going Deep with Award Winning Books:
Close reading and text-dependent questions
What are text-dependent questions?
Text-dependent questions are exactly what they sound like: questions that depend upon the text itself for answers. They do not depend on information from outside sources. You can look to the standards for some direction about guiding students through a close reading with questions. Standards 1-3 in reading address basic student comprehension of key ideas and details. You will want to craft questions for complex texts that start here, with literal comprehension. Questions that ask who, what, when, where, etc. will assure that students understand the key ideas and details, that they “get” what the text says. In this way they will gain some confidence and be ready to tackle more difficult questions.
Standards 4-9 build upon the first three standards. On successive readings of the same text you'll ask more challenging questions that go beyond basic understanding. Question stems like the following draw the reader back into the text by asking them to search for specific clues and evidence, to examine the author's choice of particular words or phrases, to zero in on a section and analyze how it connects to the whole, etc. In other words, they deal with standards 4-6 (Craft and Structure) to figure out how the text works, and 7-10 (Integration of Knowledge and Ideas) to determine what it means.
Examples of question stems:
What clues show you...
Point to the evidence or part of the text that...
How does the author describe X in the paragraph? What are the exact words?
Share a sentence from the text that...
What is the purpose of paragraph X? What clues make you think this?
What does the author think about X? What is your evidence?
Close Reading In Action • For Younger Elementary • For Middle & Upper Elementary • Resources