Tag Archives: Questioning

Close Reading, Common Core, and State Assessments

Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey define three phases of close reading and the aligned Common Core Standards in their text, Text Dependent Questions: Pathways to Close and Critical Reading (Corwin, 2015):

I. What does the text say?

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3
Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.1
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.3
Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.6
Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

 

How does the text work?

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4
Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5
Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6
Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.3
Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.4
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases based on grade 8 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.5
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.6
Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

What does the text mean?

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9
Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.1
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.3
Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.6
Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
If we look at the most recent test questions on the New York State Exam (ELA Grade 7), the questions asked on the reading comprehension section fit seamlessly into these three phases of close reading.
What does the text say?
What does _______ mainly represent to ______?
Which detail would be most important to include in a summary of the article?
Which line best reveals the change in attitude towards . . . ?
Which claim can be supported by evidence from the article?
Which evidence from the article best supports the author’s claims in these lines?
How does the text work?
What does the word ______ suggest about _______?
Why does the author most likely include lines X through X?
How do lines X most affect the meaning of the story?
Which quotation best supports the author’s claim?
How do lines X  through X develop the central idea of the article?
How des the setting affect the plot of the story?
How do lines X through X mostly contribute to the story? (By describing, revealing, suggesting, showing)
How does the author organize the ideas in the article? (By explaining, showing, relating, describing)
Why are lines X important to the article? (they explain, emphasize)
What does the text mean?
Which question best expresses a theme developed throughout the story?
Based on lines X, readers can conclude . . . ?
What is the main significance of the ______ in the story?
Which inference do these sentences best support?
What does the phrase _____ suggest?
These questions represent the New York State’s interpretation of the Common Core Standards and can be used to inform teachers and students of how the state portrays close reading. I am not going to address the ambiguity of many of the questions asked nor include the uninteresting reading passages that went along with the reading comprehension questions. Rather, I wanted to make public the questions that students are being asked on these standardized tests for teachers to utilize.
Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

What did you ask? Driving Questions for Critical Thinking

Driving questions guide curriculum and steer student learning. As teachers, we need to step back and think about the types of questions that we ask in our classroom. Do our questions “elicit student reflection and challenge deeper student engagement?” (Danielson, 1996) Or are the questions lower level questions that require students to recite and recall basic knowledge and information? Carefully crafted questions synthesize, evaluate, and require students to reflect on their understanding.

Driving Questions should be:

  • Provocative – Interesting to hold students’ attention and challenging to inspire students to go beyond the surface
  • Open-ended – Has more than one answer and requires students to use their higher order thinking skills and synthesis of different types of information
  • Complex & Challenging – Encourages students to examine ideas new to them, encourages questioning and risk taking
  • Linked to the core of what you want students to learn and consistent with standards

(From 8 Essential For Project Based Learning by John Larmer and John R. Mergendoller)

Question Starters are effective for students and teachers. Most students are familiar with the question words who, what, where, when, why, and how. To help students begin to formulate higher level questions, extend the stems that initiate and focus the inquiry. Examples include:

  • What caused…?
  • What are the characteristics of…?
  • What if…?
  • What does the author mean when…?
  • Would you agree that…?
  • Would it be better if…?

In my quest to design thick, text dependent, driving questions I created a reading challenge for my students that builds on Bloom’s Taxonomy questioning. Students worked with partners during class time to answer the questions about their reading of dystopian fiction.  Students earned Classcraft Game points for all the questions they answered correctly with depth and textual evidence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged , ,

Designing Writing Assignments and Prompts

I just finished Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey’s Close Reading and Writing From Sources (IRA, 2014) and there are so many great ideas for teaching reading, writing, and discussion in the classroom. The last chapter addressed designing an effect writing assignment or prompt to foster precise writing and critical thinking. The authors state the basic components of a writing assignment or prompt are:

1. The Topic

2. The Audience

3. The Rhetorical Structure or Genre to be Produced

Students should be able to determine the following when a writing prompt is clear and simply stated:

What is my purpose for writing this pieces?

Who is my audience?

What is the task?

Fisher and Frey cite The Literacy Design Collaborative for effective prefabricated task templates for teachers to customize. For example, the following argumentation task template invites students to compare two conditions:

[Insert question] After reading _____________ (literature or informational texts), write a/an __________ (essay or substitute) that compares _______________ (content) and argues ___________ (content). Be sure to support your position with evidence from the text. 

[Insert optional question] After reading ________ (literature or informational texts), write ________ (an essay or substitute) in which you address the question and argue_______(content). Support your position with evidence from the text(s). (Argumentation/Analysis)

It is important to remember that the writing assignment or prompt should not be an afterthought, rather all reading and discussion tasks should be aligned with the culminating task so students can engage in critical inquiry and investigation throughout the unit. The Common Core Learning Standards have drawn teachers’ attention to how to read closely. At the same time, teachers need to develop strong text-dependent questions that guide students’ thinking while their reading closely and write using evidence from the text they’ve read to show their reading and writing capabilities. 

Tagged , , , ,

Asking the Right Questions to Promote Learning & Understanding

There are two types of questioning that teachers employ in the classroom:

Low-level questions tap students’ knowledge. These are the recall questions that address basic knowledge and comprehension of terms, facts, names, and events.

High-level questions require students to expand their thinking and relate to comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. These questions typically begin with How and Why. 

Both types of questions are necessary and important. Professor of Education, Dr. R. Ouyang states, “The primary issue is not to be rigid in defining question levels but rather to ask questions at a level appropriate for the learner and learning activities.”

To be effective in the classroom, the questions teachers ask students must be adjusted to fit the needs of the students. 

Prompting is one technique when a student does not answer a question or gives an incorrect response. Prompting questions use hints and clues to aid students in answering questions or to assist them in correcting an initial original question with clues or hints.

When a student’s reply is correct but insufficient because it lacks depth, the teacher can ask Probing questions to initiate the student to think more thoroughly about the initial response. Probing can ask follow up questions such as, “What do you mean by that?” or “Can you tell us more about . . ” or “How does this connect?”

Wait time is always something teachers ponder and can be a powerful question technique. Students need time to think. If teachers wait 3 seconds or longer for the answer to a question, the quality of students’ responses increases.

Here are some other questioning guidelines:

1. Ask clear questions. Ask something in simple, clear language that students can understand. 

2. Ask your questions before designating a respondent. Ask a question. Wait for the class to think about it, and then ask someone for an answer. 

3. Ask questions that match your lesson objectives

4. Distribute questions about the class fairly.

5. Ask one question at a time

As teachers we need to set the stage for meaningful discussions and model our questions so that students can exchange information and ideas with one another, not just for the sake of the teacher or a grade. 

 

 

Tagged , ,