Text Dependent Questions: Chapter 4

Chapter 4 focuses on using text dependent questions to teach students strategies for understanding what the text means.  I have to say this was an amazing chapter!  The authors deepened my understanding of the ELA Common Core Standards and the purpose of close reading. Lots of A-HA moments! I’d like to thank Mrs. Wills’ Kindergarten for heading up this book study.

text dependent questions what does text mean

Using Text Dependent Questions to Teach “What Does the Text Mean?”

Skilled readers can look at all of the parts of a text, similar to working on a jigsaw puzzle. They understand how the parts and the whole work together and can arrive at a deep understanding of the text. This is not an easy, or automatic skill. Using close reading processes, teachers lead students into an understanding of how to infer and synthesize text, so they correctly interpret the meaning of the text.

The authors point out that easier texts have a higher cohesion (the way the parts of the text work).  These texts make relationships and inferences explicit.  Rigorous text requires students to make the jump to interpretation and synthesizing. The amazing thing is our students can make this jump, and they thrive when our expectations convey our faith in their abilities.

By leading our students into making connections between multiple sources and working across disciplines, their knowledge is further deepened. Close reading at its finest guides students into taking the time to comprehend text and provide evidence for their opinions.  

text dependent questions what does the text mean   

We read some wonderful books about diversity, acceptance, and kindness last year.  I know that most of these are familiar, but the lessons and cross-curricular topics are perfect for close reading. 

Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson, is fabulous for discussing issues of bullying, friendship, acceptance, and regret.  It would be a perfect book if you were going to incorporate random acts of kindness in your curriculum. My second graders really had a hard time getting the deeper meaning of this text.  They missed the author’s purpose and I basically explained the story to them.  Of course, I know now, that is a big NO, NO!



Set in the deep south in 1964, just as at the height of the anti-segregation laws, two young boys, one white and one black, learn that friendship can be a catalyst for change.  My kids LOVED this book.


The last book I will share, also by Jacqueline Woodson, was adored by my students!  I can’t tell you how many times we read it, they read it, and we watched the YouTube production.  If you haven’t read this book, then you are missing out on a treasure! 

I can’t wait to read the next chapter and look forward to your comments!



Text Dependent Questions: Chapter 2

Welcome back for  Chapter 2 of Text Dependent Questions! I hope you are enjoying Fisher and Frey’s text on successfully using text dependent questions in the classroom. I was excited to jump into Chapter 2 which focuses on “What Does the Text Say?” Mrs. Wills’ Kindergarten is hosting this book study.  Be sure to check out her post where she delves into planning for a lesson with a mentor text! 

Close Reading Text Dependent Questions Book Study. What does the text say?

Literal Level Questions

Fisher and Frey stress the importance of literal questions as a precursor to deeper level and inferential understanding of text. Student responses to these questions are a clear indicator of their foundational understanding of the text. The authors refer to these questions as scaffolds to access complex texts. 

“But understanding the literal level of a text is the gateway to analysis and conceptual thinking” p 26

I loved the validation for using literal questions with my students.  I teach in an area where the students lack receptive and expressive language skills. As we are pushed into increasing the rigor of our questioning, I realize that these literal questions set the stage for my students to gain access to the meaning of the text.  In addition, they allow me a quick check into their initial understanding. 

Text Dependent Questions. What Does the Text Say?

Close Reading What Does the Text Say


This chapter focuses on using questioning to uncover the literal meaning behind text.  Of course the authors point out that close reading and true understanding is best developed through the social contexts of student discussion.  I did use partner and small group discussion in my classroom last year, however the authors highlight important considerations when using these strategies.

  • It is not an “endless round of Q and A” neither is it frontloading all of the background or meaning of the text.
  • Using challenging tasks, be sure to have students explain their ideas, not just facts.
  • Teach students how to elaborate 
  • Discourage elaborated personal experiences and picture cues, as students can lose the whole meaning of the text.

These tips are going to be in my mind this year as I circulate during my student led discussion groups.  I plan to create an anchor chart to assist my students in discussion starters for elaboration.  I love this free chart found at Learning at the Primary Pond. 

Ways to respond to a partner during reading discussions.


Final Thoughts


Text dependent questions book study hosted by Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten.


This chapter clarified my understanding of key details as defined by the common core standards.  Understanding that key details in narrative text refer to story grammars such as plot, character and setting, and in informational text refer to organizational patterns such as cause and effect, will help me hone in on the standards during my ELA block.  My next step is to locate texts to use in my classroom and develop questions as I work through this text.  The authors state to have a range of literal level questions ready to accompany each text.  However, they state that doesn’t mean you have to ask EVERY. SINGLE. QUESTION!  Once your students demonstrate literal understanding they are ready to move on to “How Does the Text Work?

Thank you for stopping by! Be sure to join in on the lively conversation happening at:

Mrs. Wills’ Kindergarten Blog

The Kindergarten Collaborative Facebook Group




Close Reading Text Dependent Questions: Chapter 1

Close Reading Text Dependent Questions Book Study


I’m excited to be linking up with Mrs. Wills’ Kindergarten and participating in her Text Dependent Questions Book Study. Fisher and Frey link research to practice in this easy to understand text.  You can join in on the collaborative conversation by joining the Kindergarten Collaborative Facebook Group! If you want to learn more about building close and critical reading skills with your students, grab this book and join us as we discuss our reflections on this professional book. You can get your copy of the book by clicking the link below.



Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Book Study Text Dependent Questions


My Reflection Points

As Mrs. Wills pointed out, educational practices cycle, but the idea of reading closely has been around for quite awhile. As best practices shift, it is always wise to take the best parts of what we learned in the past, and combine them with the new ways to bring success to our students.

Stamina, Persistence, and Confidence

As a former inclusion teacher, now teaching second grade, I have not received training on close reading, so this text is a huge help for building my understanding of the process. Two big ideas that stood out in the first chapter were the realization that a major tenet of close reading is student collaboration and limited front loading when introducing new text. Recently teachers have been proponents of building schema prior to reading any text.  While this is appropriate at times, Fisher and Frey warn us to use this strategy with caution when introducing a text for the purpose of close reading. Removing all obstacles defeats the purpose of close reading, which poses an age appropriate struggle for students. Removing all struggles from our students doesn’t allow them the opportunity to practice and “own” the reading strategies we are teaching them. Appropriate struggle helps our readers build stamina, persistence and confidence.

Social Learning

The act of close reading in the classroom is social learning guided by carefully constructed questions posed by the teacher. The process allows for students to learn from each other through discussion and collaboration.  Reading this section brought to mind number talks which I have begun implementing in my classroom.  This part of the math block mirrors the foundation of close reading. It is important to note that although the teacher guides student questioning in the beginning, the ultimate goal is that students eventually develop the ability to ask and answer questions during their own independent reading.   

Close Reading Text Dependent Questions Book Study

Students need scaffolding and support in learning to develop collaborative processes. In this case my students took turns talking based on who was holding the ball.


Be sure to join us at the Kindergarten Collaborative and post your reactions and reflections on the text!  

Close Reading Text Dependent Questions Book Study


Happy Reading!



Winter Fun Hop and Rain forest Writing in the Primary Classroom

We’re having a Winter Fun link up hosted by Mrs. D’s Corner. You can participate in the fun by downloading our free Winter E-Book and entering the rafflecopter below for the chance to win a fabulous prize!

Birthday Celebration

To beat the winter blues, we dove into our informational writing unit with the topic of the rain forest. Interesting topics are a sure fire way to engage students in informational writing in a primary classroom. Since we recently read about the rain forest, I introduced informational writing using a fascinating rain forest bird. Our rain forest writing project was a huge success in our classroom.  

Informational writing in a primary classroom

One of my favorite mentor texts for teaching point of view in reading is The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry.  If you aren’t familiar with the text, it is basically a story which depicts the deforestation problem in the rain forest as told through the voices of the various rain forest animals.  A second grade standard is understanding point of view and being able to read texts using different voices to depict characters.  It is so much fun to share this wonderful book to kids of all ages by reading the various voices of the rain forest inhabitants.  You can grab the book at Amazon by clicking below.  This is an affiliate link, but does not add any cost to you. 

Informational writing is our focus this grading period.  To kick off the unit I introduced my students to a simple layout to plan their writing.

informational writing

I selected a passage from Enchanted Learning about the Toucan.  You can find it by clicking the word Toucan.  We did a close read using this passage. I built their schema through the use of google images and a You Tube video of the Toucan singing. Did you know that they croak like a frog! 

Next I used this graphic organizer to develop the topic and details students would add to their writing.  You can grab it for free here!

graphic organizer informational writing

After completing our writing we did a directed drawing activity which you can find at We Draw Animals.com. To get the students started on their page I created a body template for them to trace using a file folder.

Tucan directed drawing activity

We loved how unique and cute each one turned out!






Be sure to enter the rafflecopter below and hop on to the next blog for more great tips to use in your classroom this winter! Just click the free Winter E-Book image to grab this fantastic prize!  You will find my secret word below.




a Rafflecopter giveaway



Year-End Blowout Sale on Educents

Are you busy planning for the coming months?  I know I am!  I was excited to see these deals coming up on Educents and thought I would share them with you.  Be sure to use the code SAVE15 or FREESHIP on  orders 49 dollars or higher!

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Out with the old, in with the new! Our friends at Educents have come through with an end if the year blowout sale that’s too good to miss! These deals won’t be around after the first week of 2016, so you have to act fast.


Shop the Educents Year-End Blowout Sale

On top of these already awesome deals, you can use the code SAVE15 for an extra 15% off sitewide, or FREESHIP for free shipping on orders over $49.


Life of Fred Elementary Math SeriesThe wildly popular Life of Fred books are a great way to get your child excited about math. I know it sounds crazy, but kids everywhere love the misadventures of math genius Fred.


National Geographic Kids World Atlas | Space Encyclopedia – National Geographic is one of the most trusted names when it comes to education about our world. Through brilliant photography, the National Geographic World Atlas can help educate your entire family.


5 Kit Magic School Bus Variety BundleThe Magic School Bus has spent decades educating children about all facets of science. Now, with this variety bundle, the lesson can continue in a fun and engaging way. Perfect for kids aged 5-10, this bundle will be more than enough for a whole school year of learning fun.


Freestyle Building Kit – Children have loved building toys as long as the simple wooden block has been around. The Freestyle Building Kit pushes that creativity even further with this kit. The kit includes thousands of blocks of various vibrant colors; the kit will be more than enough to help.


Spanish Course – Buy 1 Get 1 Free – Learning another language is one of the most valuable skills you can have, and countless studies have shown that the earlier you start, the easier it is to learn. This buy-one-get-one-free Spanish package is already a great deal, and now you can get it for even less.


Scholastic Beginning Reader Boxed Sets – When it comes to supplying books for young students, not many do it better than Scholastic. From LEGO, to Star Wars, to Clifford, these books are a great way to get your littlest learners excited about reading.


Scholastic Young Reader Boxed Sets – And for the slightly older readers, you can continue their education with some more classic books. With topics ranging from Harry Potter to Minecraft, any young reader will be sure to find something they like.

Whether you are a parent hoping to turn playtime into learning time, a teacher stocking up supplies, or a homeschooler starting new lessons in January, there’s something on Educents for you.

Shop the Educents Year-End Blowout Sale


Note: This post contains some affiliate links which do not add any cost to you.

Currently January 2016

Currently Jan. 2016


I’m happy to be linking up with Farley at Oh’ Boy Fourth Grade for this month’s Currently Linky!

Listening:  to silence and loving it!  My grandson, whom I love, is back home and soon I’ll be back in the noisy hub bub of learning with all my sweet second graders.  Until then…I’ll take some quiet when I can get it!

Loving:  the extended break teachers have over the Christmas holidays.  The time off gives me time to relax, reflect, and refresh for the remainder of the school year.  I feel I accomplish so much and enjoy my family to the fullest knowing I don’t have to set the clock or be on a tight schedule.

Thinking: I need to review resources I purchased over the break and plan some fun, yet meaningful, learning activities these last few days of break.  I need to print, laminate and cut out materials for centers too.  Oh boy, it makes me tired just thinking of all the cutting and organizing.  Glad I still have a few days!

Wanting: yes, another week would be totally awesome!  I know you want that too!  Since that isn’t happening, I better get motivated to start all of the laminating and cutting!

Needing: to keep in mind that there are so many things to enjoy in life!  I want to keep a healthy balance between work and home so that I enjoy my time spent with my “littles” as well as my family. 

One little word: Hope. New Year brings a promise of hope and renewal.  I plan to do so many positive things in the coming year both in my work, personal, and business life.  Knowing that success requires hard work, I am willing to do what it takes.  My hope is that each and everyone of us will be blessed this coming year!

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