Note: This is the third post in a series which takes a look at the implementation of Close Reading, authored by Heath Kelley.
Click here to revisit parts 1 and 2.
Effective questioning can be powerful and motivating. The right questions promote curiosity, risk-taking, and foster a culture of learning. In close reading, the right sequence of questions can help students go further into a complex text.
Steve Peterson, Andrew Ellingsen and myself got together a few weeks ago to discuss the close reading process. We decided to choose a complex text and write questions with the purpose of discussing the text. We knew that this would help us in understanding the process and creating close readings in our classrooms.
Before writing the questions, we studied the text carefully and attempted to understand it as deeply as possible. Then, we wrote text-based questions that would elicit a rich discussion of the intricacies of the text. One of our goals was to create questions that were textually dependent and would lead us continually back into the text. With students, we would scaffold these questions to begin with the key details of the text and later move into more of the subtle choices, structure and themes of the text.
Here are some of the questions we came up with from the text “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes. Students may need an additional prompt such as “use evidence to support your thinking” to ensure they are going back into the text. However, we found that the questions below naturally brought us back to the text and contributed to a rich discussion of the characters in the story or the author’s intended themes. It is also important to note that deciding on the right questions to ask helped us sort through what was most meaningful or that struck us as readers. We could foresee students within a close reading process also asking their own questions to prepare for a discussion or other task. Wouldn’t it be great to have students creating their own text-dependent questions?
Thank You Ma’am Text-Based Questions:
In my research of text-dependent questions, I came across this video of a discussion about text-based answers. In the video David Coleman, lead author of the Common Core, and others discuss utilizing questions to dig deeper into a text. They make several important points including the need to step back and not frontload information or “activate prior knowledge”. Instead, they argue for the need to encourage discovery, inquiry based learning in order to study the author’s original purposes. Take a look!
Here is a list of additional resources from achievethecore.org that provide more information on generativing text-based questions.
How about you? Have you used text-dependent questions in your classroom? What have you found to be most helpful?
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