Progression of Text Dependent Questions to Engage Thinkers

Written by Rebecca Forchuk, Director of Staff DevelopmentDouglas Fisher: Visible Learning for Literacy on August 16, 2017
“TEACH complex texts, don’t just ASSIGNcomplex texts…”
(Douglas Fisher – August, 2017)
Regardless of the subject and grade we teach, all students will interact with complex texts, which means complex for the student, not the teacher. It is essential to remember this when using textbooks, books, videos, podcasts and others. Fisher makes a great point that we can no longer assign complex texts, such as ‘read Chapter 2 and answer the questions at the end’, or ‘google search the topic’; we must teach students how to make meaning from these texts. This requires teachers to teach differently. No longer do we simply teach content; we must teach students how to acquire information and make meaning from the texts we provide in class.
One high impact strategy [1]Fisher explained is one that many teachers have used for years:
ANNOTATION. It is important to understand that annotation is not highlighting but “slows down the reader in order to deepen understanding.” As teachers, is deep understanding not our goal for students? Annotation becomes more effective when it is used throughout a school as a routine where students develop the habit by practicing it over and over and over again with common understanding and expectations.
Similarly, we can improve students thinking by developing surface learning and deep learning while they read or view text. Fisher suggests that can schools adopt the same three questions that all teachers, regardless of grade or subject area, use when requiring students to make meaning and annotate to deepen understanding of content:
From Douglas Fisher Professional Learning Session, August 16, 2017
Some examples of questions from the speech from Chief Joseph (find the speech found here):

What does the text say?(Literal) How does the text work?(Structural) What does the text mean?(Inferential)
Who is delivering the speech? What does Chief Joseph mean when he says “From where the sun now stands…”? Chief Joseph succeeded his father as leader of the Wallowa band in 1871. Before his death, the father said to his son….How does this second passage help you to understand the speech? What inner conflict would Chief Joseph have experienced?
What happened? What is the tone of the speech? What words and phrases support your claim? Where do you see evidence of conflict in the speech?
Without knowing who Looking Glass and Toohulhulsote are, what can we say about their roles in the decision?
What concerns does Chief Joseph have about the health and welfare of his people? How do you know? How does the text structure convey Chief Joseph’s mood?
What is it about the use of the word forever in the last line, “I will fight no more forever” that makes this statement so memorable?

From Douglas Fisher Professional Learning Session, August 16, 2017
As you have students read and view text in your class, ensure that you are teaching them how to read complex texts rather than just assigning complex texts. Using these levels of questions will help develop strong readers and thinkers at the universal level. Focusing on structural questions has also proven to improve writing of students as well!!
[1] High impact strategy refers to a strategy where the effect size is equal to or greater than 0.4, which results in at least one years worth of learning for one year of schooling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *