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




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